the domestic tales of four sisters

The Ultimate Baby Gear List (For Small Spaces)

Other posts in this series…

 The Ultimate Postpartum Recovery List 

The Ultimate Labor Prep List

The Ultimate Baby Essentials List

I’ve seen a ton of these lists on Pinterest, and I actually pinned a few of them when I was pregnant with our daughter. Honestly, I skimmed them, and then bought whatever I wanted anyway. Because that’s how middle children roll, apparently.

Truthfully, I talked to my sisters and mom about what I should and should not have. We prepped for our daughter before moving and it just so happened that my slimmed down “essentials” list was perfect for the size of the home we would be moving into. Because we live in a western boomtown the cost of living is outrageous and we did have to downsize significantly. A good majority of our things still reside in storage and we cut back significantly on what we would need for the next few years. If we were still in our home in North Carolina I honestly, without a doubt, would still want exactly what we purchased for our daughter and no more. Well, maybe more bibs. Yeah. Definitely more bibs.

This list is GREAT for those of you who are making it work in a smaller home, but honestly for anyone looking to trim down on what they are purchasing for their baby. So definitely pin this and come back to it! And please pay attention to the “What you won’t need” list below! 🙂

A couple of notes before we begin!

  • SECONDHAND! There are people out there (me) who are obsessive about keeping baby gear clean. We sanitize toys and we take care of gear. When our kids grow out of these items we may look to sell them secondhand. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check local yardsale websites, yardsales, Craigslist, and secondhand stores. With that said, you should purchase secondhand items with caution.
    – DO NOT PURCHASE CARSEATS SECONDHAND. I know, this may be a difficult task for you simply because carseats are not cheap, but I highly encourage you to purchase your carseat new with any gift cards you may receive from your shower and then stick to secondhand for the remainder of your gear. Secondhand carseats could be expired or have been involved in an accident. You will not find anyone more pissy about carseat safety than my husband and I. I am here to tell you though they are not something that you should mess around with. My husband and I have this carseat by Chicco. I love it. Many, many friends and family members of mine have purchased this carseat by Graco and are quite satisfied as well. (You’ll also note the positive reviews on Target’s website.) *End carseat rant.*
    – One of the beautiful things about the internet is this little website Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you’re going to purchase a secondhand item do a quick check to see if that item has made a recall list. If an item you are looking at is a recalled item, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you let the seller know.
    – Now, if you smoke, this might not bother you at all. Without offending anyone I want to say, even if you do smoke you shouldn’t purchase baby gear that comes from a home where the owners did smoke. Secondhand smoke sticks to everything, embeds in fabrics, among other things. Not only is it next to impossible to get rid of the odor, it’s just not a safe bet. Always ask if the item comes from a smoke-free home. If it doesn’t, I encourage you to pass on that item, even if it is the deal of the century. Secondhand smoke is not good for anyone, let alone a child.
    – After purchasing your item give it a thorough cleaning. Some things are a little harder than others, but one disinfecting/sanitizing/deodorizing product I love (and would probably advertise for if they asked me to) – VitalOxide. You can use it on almost anything and it is perfect for disinfecting toys and gear. BONUS: It removes ALL scent. I have two labradors – my yellow one was hellacious, I mean HELLACIOUS, to house break. VitalOxide did me a lot of favors through that process. And I cannot imagine how it is going to save me with a vomiting child one day.



The Ultimate Baby Item List (For Small Spaces)

1) Crib and Crib Mattress

My mom purchased our crib set for us. Sami has had her son in it pretty much since the day he came home. My daughter didn’t start sleeping in it until she was about 2 months. We will cover why here in a minute. Just make sure you have one and it is all ready to go before the baby arrives. Purchasing for a small space you will be tempted to buy a mini-crib. I’m not sure where this idea came from, because I think it’s an awful one. My one year old somehow twists herself around in the middle of the night and can just barely stretch out in most positions. And she’s in a standard sized crib! Sacrifice the few extra feet and buy the standard size. Your kid will thank you for it! (Plus, I imagine finding crib sheets is a bit of a challenge with those mini-cribs.)

Secondhand Tip: Always check the crib online to ensure it hasn’t been recalled. If it has, move on. There are some drop side cribs that HAVE NOT been recalled. All you have to do is go online and purchase an inexpensive repair kit that will prevent the drop side from functioning.
DO NOT purchase a crib mattress secondhand unless you are absolutely certain of who it has come from. If you are on a budget Walmart has crib mattresses as cheap as $26. Yes, they are firm, but firm is good when it comes to a baby mattress. And I have the $26 mattress and my kid loves it. Though when she graduates to her big girl bed it has memory foam on it … The kid probably won’t get out of bed.

2)  Swing/Vibrating Chair

I have both. With my first we only had this vibrating chair. All of my mommy friends said I would absolutely need it, and they were absolutely right. You do not shower without this. So unless you fancy having an au naturale scent for the first 3 months of your child’s existence purchase one of these. They do not take up that much room and they come in a variety of colors, styles, sizes, and prices. I absolutely encourage you to purchase one that does vibrate as it is great for soothing that little one to sleep. Furthermore, the incline is PERFECT for babies who do have a little bit of a reflux. My daughter, while she didn’t have a significant reflux, would spit up after feeding. There were a few times where she choked and it freaked me out enough to never lay her down after a bottle. She promptly rested in her vibrating chair or on her boppy. These also come in handy while you are washing dishes, showering, cleaning up your house, working on a project, and just not in the mood to hold your baby. (I know, sounds calloused, but you’ll see what I mean when your little one arrives. Sometimes you just need a break.)

*My daughter also slept for the first two months in her vibrating chair. I made sure she was fastened in and then I swaddled around the belt. This was more a me issue than a her issue. I was so afraid of SIDs I couldn’t handle it. Having her next to me like that made me sleep a a little easier.

As for my second baby my mother in law has purchased us this swing. It is the perfect size for a small space as it is not large and clunky. I wanted a swing with our second simply because our daughter will only be 16 months old when he arrives. I can imagine there will be many moments where having our son in the swing while I tend to his toddler sister will be vital. The swing will stay downstairs for daytime use only as to avoid any dependency upon it for sleeping.

Secondhand Tip: These obviously can be purchased secondhand. Remember to check the recall list before agreeing to purchase. Because both of these items are a good percentage of fabric it is definitely essential to ensure it comes from a smoke-free home.

3) Highchair

We have this highchair for our daughter and let me tell you what … I LOVE IT. It folds up and tucks in nicely between the wall and refrigerator. It is easy to keep clean as the “fabric” seat is actually vinyl and it comes with a tray that is dishwasher safe. I’m sure there are plenty of high chairs that have these same features. With that said I would have actually preferred to purchase this chair. The booster seat can be used as early as 1 month (according to Fisher Price) and it folds up entirely and attaches to an existing chair. The $30 pricetag and positive reviews aren’t too shabby either!

Danielle uses these in her daycare and for her own little man and she is clearly a satisfied customer. I think one bonus to these is no wheels that high chairs usually have. You might think I’m crazy, but I hate that my high chair has wheels because I have two very large dogs who whip her all around if I’m not careful.

Secondhand Tip: Definitely sanitize this item with Vitaloxide or bleach. My daughter is the messiest eater on the face of the earth. I rip her high chair apart weekly to clean food and other Lord knows what out of its crevices. I don’t even recall half of the stuff I find. I am starting to think she does it on purpose. I digress … Make sure you clean that baby and disinfect it thoroughly before using it with your child.

4) Diaper and Clothing Storage

There are these cute little bags you can buy that hang on the side of the baby’s crib and you’re supposed to fill them with diapers and wipes. And then it’s 4AM and you’re changing your kid’s diaper and cussing the maker of that stupid item because you knocked it with your hip and diapers went flying all over the floor and then your kid is SCREAMING at the top of their lungs. Lovely. Just lovely.

People were good to me and bought me varying sizes of diapers early on. I would store the sizes I didn’t need in one of these wonderful under the bed storage boxes. As far as the size that she is in currently, I designated one basket on her changing table to diapers, wipes, and toiletry items. After I started the under the bed storage I realized that it would be perfect for clothing as well. So I purchased another one and placed clothing items that she would grow into. Making sure to mark each one on the outside with the appropriate sizes so I don’t go crazy. 🙂

For  items that she grew out of I purchased SpaceBags and I was able to pack an insane amount of clothing in 3 bags. They now reside on a top shelf in her bedroom.

5) Boppy

I love Boppys. I think they’re a marvelous invention. And it always seems like someone is trying to unload them secondhand. As stated in my Ultimate Postpartum Recovery list, you can use these to sit on the first few days after you’ve had the baby. But they have even more uses! You can use it for your newborn to nap in, to feed the baby, to nurse while you pump on the other side, to help absorb the falls of your baby when they are learning to sit up. Truly, I love these. And BONUS they aren’t ginormous therefore they are perfect for small spaces.

Secondhand Purchasing: Obviously ensure this comes from a smoke-free environment. If it comes with a cover – great! Give it a good wash in warm water. If the cover that it comes with is a little beaten up and stained, you can buy inexpensive ones anywhere! I purchased mine on Etsy and it has held up beautifully. There are many vendors who make them in fun patterns and colors.

6) Carseat

“Duh…” I know. But if I don’t put this in here some Negative Nancy having a bad day will come mosey through here and be all, “WHAT YOUR KID DOESN’T NEED A CARSEAT BECAUSE YOU LIVE IN A SMALL HOUSE?!? GET A GRIP, LADY!” So, to protect my self-esteem … You obviously need a carseat. We have a Chicco infant carseat, but when she grew out of it we bumped her up to this Evenflo Symphony Elite Convertible Car Seat, Ocala The beautiful thing about the Evenflo carseat is it goes from 5 lbs to 110 lbs. We will be purchasing another one of these for our little man when he outgrows the infant seat.
(*I will be doing a review on both carseats in the future.)

As I mentioned above – if you are short on cash use any gift cards you may receive at your shower to purchase a carseat new. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT purchase a carseat secondhand. Obviously if one of my sisters were to offer me a non-expired carseat I would take it. Because I trust the source and I know that my sisters have not been involved in accidents with the carseats. Now, you may wonder what’s the big deal with buying secondhand carseats and all of the “accident” talk.” A carseat that has been involved in an accident, even one that appears unscathed, should absolutely be replaced. There are internal structures to carseat safety that we can’t see and those could be damaged. It’s like smashing the back of a watch with a hammer; structurally looks fine, but you’ll note that it is no longer working. Upon opening you will see that the internal working parts of the watch are busted to smithereens. The watch is useless.

You don’t need to spend $400 on a carseat for your child to be safe. Read reviews, check into the safety standards of the carseat brand, etc. The best way to make your child safe in a carseat is following all carseat safety guidelines, using the equipment properly, and ensuring your child is buckled in appropriately.

7) Carrier of Choice

I purchased a Moby wrap. Afterwards people were all, “I LOVED this one. You should have bought this brand. OH MY GOSH THIS one is the BEST!”  Here’s the deal … I liked my Moby wrap. My husband actually used it a few times and liked it too. It grows with the baby and it doesn’t require any inserts or anything of the sort. The truth, however, is you do have to make sure it is tied appropriately to protect your baby and your lower back. As long as you follow the directions you will be fine. Best part? It rolls up and fits in a draw string bag that is no more than 1 foot long. Awesome. Yes. Awesome. I usually never rolled it back up and put it in the bag, I just folded it neatly and stuck it in the diaper bag.

I never nursed with her in the Moby wrap, so I cannot account for that. (I’m a shy nurser. I never did it in public, always took a bottle along with me.) I have heard many people say it is wonderful for nursing, however, because it is very modest. The girls aren’t all out in the open.  PLUS you can apparently use ONE wrap for a set of twins. God bless you if you do.

8) Stroller

Okay … let’s talk about strollers. First of all, until they invent a stroller that flattens entirely, they’re all going to take up space. Our stroller came in a travel system with our carseat. I love it. It folds up with the squeeze of a handle and obviously unfolds with that same handle. I don’t find it too heavy and my daughter seems to be a fan.


Okay. Maybe she’s ALSO enjoying the fact that she’s in Hobby Lobby. I ain’t mad.

I think strollers (because they’re all space consumers) are up to your personal discretion. Once our little man gets a little too heavy for me to carry him in the Moby we will graduate to a Combi double stroller. Those do fold into themselves and are relatively small, but again they still consume space.

The biggest thing with strollers is where you store them. We don’t keep ours in our home. It stays in the back of our Jeep or in our garage. Because obviously we aren’t using the stroller in our home. 🙂 I would recommend purchasing one that does close and open relatively easy, that way there is no temptation to keep it open thus making it easier to store. Ours stays closed therefore taking up less space.

9) Ottoman with Storage

This one is about to be purchased for our home before the new one arrives. I am struggling with toy storage in our small townhome and we don’t have an ottoman of any sort. I am purchasing an inexpensive one from Target so the kids’ toys can go inside and my feet can be propped up on the outside … with a glass of wine in my hand.

Haters gone hate.

Truth is any toy storage that doubles as something else will be perfect. I went the ottoman route because, as stated, we don’t have one (or a coffee table) and if I’m going to have something take up more space in my living area FOR TOYS than it better be a piece of nice furniture.

Optional Items Include: 

Pack ‘n Play (with bassinet insert)
Jumperoo (my daughter LOVED hers!)
Rocking chair for the nursery and late night nursing.
Humidifier. (Absolutely essential for those of us living in drier climates.)

Items You Don’t Need:
Space waster. If you’re hell-bent on it, however, purchase your Pack ‘n Play with a bassinet insert (my brother bought us this one) or purchase this little nifty item.
I purchased a Puj tub. She hated it. She liked being in water up to her chest. When she was a newborn I would line the bathroom sink with a dishtowel and she would bathe in there. She loved it!  When she was a little too big for the bathroom sink she graduated to the kitchen sink. After she was sitting up well, she graduated to the bath tub. I wish I would have never purchased the Puj tub. Not because I found it ineffective, but because I just ended up not needing it. I say stick with the sink. Then you’re not leaving some boxy baby tub in your bathroom or struggling to find anywhere to put the stupid thing.
Changing Table.
We have one of these simply because it came with the crib set that my mother purchased. The humdinger? Never, ever have I changed our daughter on it. Haha! It has actually been used for clothing storage. If it comes with your crib set then by all means. If it doesn’t, don’t blow money on buying one. Simply use the top of your baby’s dresser (if it is wide/large enough) to do diaper changing.
I’m sorry if this may rub some the wrong way. The truth is, your baby will learn to walk without the walker. It’s innate. We know how to do it without the help of a fancy toy. I support a jumper because kids love to jump. It has no benefit to their development though. (Nor do I believe it hinders … ) A walker isn’t essential on your list of needed items.

Well, hopefully this helps! I know the list is a slim one. But I made it through our first year flawlessly with only 9 items. Shocking, right?! The truth is right before we moved my Mammy (grandma) was holding our daughter. She spit up a little and Mammy asked for “a rag to wipe her mouth.” I tossed her the striped pink and white burp cloth my sister gave me and she goes, “What is this?’  My mom said, “A burp cloth. They’re fancy now.” My mammy’s response? “Shit all you need is a rag!” Color me embarrassed. My grandmothers would be SHOCKED at all of the crap we accrue for our children these days. Slimming it down wasn’t too difficult for me. And we still managed!

I like the fact that space forced us to simplify what all we would use for our children. I wasn’t forced to be overly creative or go to extremes to provide for my child, but I also wasn’t permitted to be lazy either. Plus, only relying on 9 items meant I had more money for diapers, wipes, and other miscellaneous things that a re MONEY SUCKERS. We’ll get to that later though. 🙂

Off to make chicken teriyaki for my sweets. Hopefully it’s delicious so I can share the recipe!

Happy Tuesday, friends!


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