When I was preparing for the arrival of my first child, I spent hours scouring the internet and books, learning everything I could to prepare for her arrival. The more I read, the more I felt we needed – it seemed like there were millions of things we’d have to buy to create a comfortable home for her. But in reality, we live in a small DC townhouse and just didn’t have the space (or the budget) for all of that. All we had on day one was a carseat, bassinet, diapers and wipes, and clothes (lots and lots of clothes), and we figured we’d get other things as we needed them. Here are the things we ended up getting for her that were most helpful – my top 5 essential pieces of baby gear for small spaces.
Baby Gear for Small Spaces Item #1: ErgoBaby 360
The ErgoBaby 360 was probably my favorite purchase. We live on a cobblestone street, so I was terrified to use the stroller for the first few months out of fear of giving our daughter shaken baby syndrome (my pediatrician thought this was crazy). So, we brought her everywhere in the ErgoBaby – on walks around the neighborhood, to grab coffee, to walk to the grocery store.
I loved it because it worked like magic for her daughter, and she’d fall asleep almost immediately after being put into it. She was born during the peak heat of late July, so we used it with this cool mesh infant insert for the first few months, then took the insert out and continued using it until she was almost a year.
My favorite practical aspects of the ErgoBaby 360 are:
- It’s machine washable, which was essential during those early spit-up months
- It’s fully adjustable, and fit my husband’s tall frame better than any of the competing brands
- It can be worn however is most comfortable for you and baby – on your front, back, or hip; with baby forward-facing or facing in toward your body
- It can fold up to be very small, perfect in a house with limited storage
Baby Gear for Small Spaces Item #2: Wooden Play Gym
I read a lot about baby gyms, and how they can safely help your baby explore while promoting sensory development, hand-eye coordination, and other essential skills. But, I hated the over-the-top gyms I saw in the baby stores. They were so bright and in-your-face, and if I felt overwhelmed by them, wouldn’t they be overstimulating for my baby?
Instead, I opted for this wooden play gym. With a sleek, minimalist design, I felt comfortable having it anywhere in my home without feeling like it was an eyesore. My favorite aspect of it was that I could change the toys out regularly, giving my daughter the opportunity to explore new things. At first, we hung high-contrast, black and white flashcards. Later, we switched them to these rattle bug toys that made different sounds when she swatted at them. The possibilities are endless!
If you go this route over the brighter, bigger play gyms, I recommend getting some of these links to hang the toys, which allow you to adjust the height as your baby grows or learns to reach further. They’re multi-purpose – we also used them to attach toys onto her carseat and stroller, plus they’re BPA free and safe for teething.
My favorite practical aspects of the wooden play gym are:
- It’s just 2 feet wide by 2 feet tall, so it takes up minimal space
- It can be folded to be almost flat for easy storage in small spaces
- It’s a more earth-friendly choice than the plastic alternatives
Baby Gear for Small Spaces Item #3: BabyBjörn Bouncer
When our daughter grew a little bigger, we got the BabyBjörn Bouncer, which was a total lifesaver. I finally felt like I could take her out of the ErgoBaby or put her down to do basic things like showering and cooking, which had fallen a little to the wayside in the early months. As a bonus, it was just the right height to set up in front of her wooden play bar, so she could sit in the chair and practice reaching for her toys. As far as baby gear for small spaces goes, this was a winner.
This is NOT one of the battery-powered bouncers that rocks your baby to sleep (we never got one, although they sounded pretty amazing). At first, we’d bounce it for her, and she eventually figured out how to do it on her own, which was really fun to watch. She was so proud of herself when she finally did it!
My favorite practical aspects of the BabyBjörn Bouncer are:
- It can be used at a very early age – once your baby is over 7.8 lbs.
- The fabric is removable and machine washable
- It can be adjusted to three different angles, depending on your baby’s age and head/neck support
- It can fold completely flat for easy transport and storage
Baby Gear for Small Spaces Item #4: Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center
Okay, so the Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center, isn’t exactly small… but it’s smaller than other similar exersaucer-type toys. I also found it to be the most attractive and neutral-looking out of the other options, which was essential in our small home since it was in the living room rather than a tucked away playroom you may find in a larger house.
It was the perfect amount of stimulation for my daughter, whereas some of the others we saw at friends’ houses seemed totally overwhelming for her. She loved playing with all of the pieces, but especially the little keyboard that plays music. The toys can be easily moved around the table or removed completely, so we could switch them out when she seemed bored of one. While Skip Hop doesn’t sell other toys that can attach here, anything with a suction cup on it will stick (we used bead mazes and high chair toys).
My favorite practical aspects of the Skip Hop Activity Center are:
- The seat is removable and machine washable
- It has a diameter of 31”, making it one of the smallest exersaucers available
- The toys are removable, so you can adjust them according to your child’s interests
- When your child outgrows the exersaucer concept, the activity center can be turned into a toddler table, extending its use
Baby Gear for Small Spaces Item #5: BRIO Toddler Wobbler
We got the BRIO Toddler Wobbler when my daughter was first trying to walk, at around 10 months. It was amazing for her – it helped with her stability and strength, and eventually gave her the confidence to walk on her own.
I chose this walker over the other options out there because it was adjustable and seemed like the safest option. The handle can be set in two different positions, one for early walkers and one for faster children. The wheels are adjustable, too. You can tighten them up to slow it down while they’re first learning, then loosen them as they get better at walking and maneuvering with it.
When I bought this, I had no idea what a hit it would be – I figured she’d use it to learn to walk, then lose interest. But, it’s actually one of her favorite toys and she still uses it even though she’s almost two. She loves bringing it on walks with us and pushing whatever toys she’s into at the moment. It’s definitely the toy she’s used the most.
My favorite practical aspects of the BRIO Toddler Wobbler are:
- The handles and wheels are adjustable to fit your child’s physical ability
- Its rubber wheels don’t damage our wooden floors or carpets
- It’s made of beech wood, so it’s more sustainable than its plastic counterparts
- It’s base can double as a place to keep toys, ideal for small spaces with limited storage
Have you found any great baby gear for small spaces? Let me know in the comments!
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