In a recent questionnaire I posted on Instagram, so many folks asked me what our small space baby essentials are. Below is a little roundup of what we loved and used the most with West for the first 1-2 years, and/or products we discovered later on that we wished we’d known about from the start. (As always, please research what is best for your needs and tastes, while keeping safety in mind.)
Dock-A-Tots are multi-use “docking stations” where your baby can rest, lounge, play, and cuddle. (Throw a Gathre Mat over yours and it can become a changing surface, too.) They’re portable, and come in 2 sizes. We used ours as a bed-sharing dock for a year. I suspect that if we decide to have another child, we will use the Dock-A-Tot instead of a bassinet or crib.
The Hie Bag has almost everything you need for a mini or major trip, including a fold-out diaper changing pad, a cooler (as a add-on), a built-in charger, clips to become a stroller bag, backpack and shoulder carrying options, a wipe dispenser, a “kick stand” to make the bag sit upright when resting on a surface, an expandable bottle holder, a clip for keys, an an add-on changing pod for wipes, etc. You could use this bag as your primary changing station at home and/or when away.
These wonderful mats come in various sizes and colors/patterns. They are easy to roll up and wipe down, and are perfect as changing surfaces, play mats, under-the-highchair mats, picnic blankets, and more.
West is 2 and still adores his folding tub. We use it for his baths in our standup shower or in the garden, and he also uses it as a sensory/water activity basin.
The MamaRoo takes up less space than a traditional baby swing. West was constantly in his for naps and entertainment until he was around 7 months or so.
West was a big fan of this folding gym, which only takes a second or two to set up or collapse. We customized ours with little instruments and additional activities, too.
West uses his constantly— see a photo on this recent post. It folds up (as shown below) within about 10 seconds.
This set is lightweight and practical, and takes up very little space when collapsed. West uses it as a surface for a bit of everything, from activities to dining to sensory activities.
Rolling Book Cart
We very much enjoy our rolling book carts, which West totes all over our home and porch. Note: If your child climbs on everything, this might not be the best option for you, as these carts aren’t attached to a wall and can topple. (West is a climber, but has never pulled on his carts.)
Inserts for Cloth Diapers
We use Grovia diapers with bioliners, which catch solids for easy removal.
You can skip the stroller at first if you use a baby sling or carrier. I like the Ergo brand carriers, which grow/adapt with your child, lasting until they’re around 45 lbs.
Booster Seat with Tray Highchair
Highchairs take up a lot of space. Folding options aren’t a bad idea, but feeding booster seats strap on to your existing chairs and have a food tray, so you don’t need to make space for an entirely new, wideset chair.
Travel toys are great options for everyday use in a small home or apartment. I love the handmade offerings by SoHandmade, who I discovered on Etsy.
We first tried a suction plate and bowl, but West could always remove them within minutes. So we swapped those for a set of wooden bowls, along with handmade wooden plates by Timberchild. They’re so beautiful that I never mind seeing them out on the counter, drying or waiting to be cleaned.
PuraStainless Insulated Bottles
We prefer these bottles because they’re not made of plastic, and they have adaptable tops, allowing them to grow with your child simply by replacing the nipple/straw/cap.
Wonderfold Collapsible Wagon
I did an entire post about our wagon here. We’ve loved it from the start, and continue to use it daily.
Etsy was (and still is) my favorite source for handmade, wooden toys.
Custom-sized Table Tent
No room for a pop-up tent or play fort in your home? These handmade, custom-sized table tents are basically tablecloths that double as playful hideaways for your kid(s)! West and the pups have used theirs for about a year now, and I suspect it will get much more use in the years to come.
Books, Books, Books
First Months: Cloth Books (Buy new since infants chew on them.)
Months 6-12: Board Books (Buy new and/or get hand-me-downs from family, as these are chewed upon as well.)
Months 12+: Board and Picture Books (These are great to borrow from your local library once your child no longer rips pages.)