Whether you’re expecting your first baby or not, your home doesn’t have to be a mess. Learn practical ways to avoid baby clutter!
My husband and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment when we were expecting our first child. We couldn’t afford to let the baby items clutter our tiny space.
Even now, three kids later, I learned that our home—and our lives—would never be the same. It’s not unusual to see a toy banana, wooden trains, a Lego digger, a monster truck, dominoes, papers with drawings, and a ball—and that’s just on the coffee table.
And a baby seems to need so many items, and large ones at that. Cribs, car seats, and strollers are some of the basic gear we need to get, never mind the other “non-essentials” like swings, high chairs, and infant seats.
That’s just the big-item gear, too. So much of the baby clutter we end up with is from the “little things.” Baby bottles, bibs, boxes of diapers—these items need to find a place in your home.
How to avoid baby clutter
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep some order and tidiness, whether with three kids or one baby.
Maybe you’re dreading the explosion of baby gear as you prepare for your first child, or you’re welcoming another baby and don’t want more clutter. Or perhaps you don’t want to contribute to unnecessary purchases for financial or ecological reasons.
No matter your incentive, you can absolutely tame baby clutter to a reasonable level. We’ll talk about alternative ways to get baby items, as well as clever ways to store them in your home. Don’t worry: having a baby doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a cluttered space! Let’s take a look how:
1. Register for gift cards and diapers
A baby registry allows your loved ones to gift you with items you actually want so you can avoid baby clutter that would sit idle in your home. But what if you don’t need those items right away (a high chair won’t come in handy for a few more months after your baby is born)?
One simple way to combat the clutter is to register for gift cards. This allows your loved ones to still shower you with gifts, but you get to decide what to buy and when. You can also buy items that aren’t exactly “baby registry pretty” (butt cream, anyone?).
Besides gift cards, another option is to register for items that you’re constantly going through. Diapers and wipes are a great example since, while bulky, are always needed.
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2. Go for multi-purpose items
Living in a cramped space means getting creative with the items you buy. Ditch single-purpose items and go for those you can use in several ways, like a:
- Changing table with drawers below to store baby clothes. Look for ones with a flat top—that way, when your child has outgrown diapers, it can now serve as drawers and storage for the room.
- Convertible crib that changes into a toddler bed (and even a regular bed after).
- Bathtub for the newborn stage through toddlerhood.
- Stroller system that can attach a “bucket” car seat and transition to a forward-facing stroller.
3. Buy as you go
Wondering whether it’s a good idea to get a certain item before or after the baby arrives? Don’t feel compelled to buy everything beforehand. Instead, buy as you go. Settling in those first few days with the baby doesn’t take a whole lot.
Of course, you shouldn’t have to go to the store every time you realize you need something (especially with a newborn at home!). But buying extra means you’ll end up with things you don’t need and might forget to return to the store.
Instead, cover your basics and leave the extras for down the line and buy the item at the time you need it. For instance, you’ll likely plates, bowls, and utensils, but you won’t need them for several months after the baby is born.
4. Sell or give away old or unused baby items
After three kids, I’ve become more familiar with consignment stores, Craigslist, and eBay. From children’s books to old strollers, I’ve sold many items my kids have outgrown to avoid baby clutter. I’m happy to clear the clutter, and the buyer is glad to score a great deal.
Another option is to give outgrown items to willing friends. I’ve received and given away so many baby items and find it a fantastic way to make the most out of these items.
And if the items can’t be passed down, find ways to recycle them. Car seats for instance, shouldn’t be used past an expiration date, but some locations will accept them for recycling. Some animal shelters will also take your old baby blankets to reuse as bedding for animals.
Along those lines, don’t open items you’re not ready to use just yet. For instance, I had several food containers I didn’t end up using. But because they were never opened, they sold for a higher price than had I opened them (even if they were never used).
5. Use storage boxes and cubbies
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Not every toy will look pretty. You might even have a “toy” that’s comprised of 50 individual pieces, like building blocks. Maybe your child has a fascination with cars, trains and trucks and all their ensuing tiny toy models.
One fix is to buy large storage or canvas boxes, and stack those boxes into cubbies or shelves. You’ll have a permanent place for small items, ensuring that they won’t get lost, all while keeping your home tidy.
Get a few large containers for larger toys like stuffed animals (we have one with a cover that can double as a seat). You can also get an easy-to-reach toy storage organizer like this that make clean-up time easier for your child:
6. Rotate toys
Remember those storage containers I mentioned? Use those to rotate toys.
For instance, store a few current toys away in a cabinet to help clear the clutter. Then, when your child has lost interest in the ones available, store those and bring out the ones you had hidden. Not only will you reduce clutter, he’ll also feel like he’s getting “new” toys.
Your lives—and your home—will change with a baby, no doubt about that. You’ll likely have more stuff than you prefer, and even places you deemed off-limits will still somehow end up with a rattle or a children’s book.
Still, you can avoid massive clutter with a few strategic moves.
Register for gift cards or items like diapers and wipes that you’ll always need. Go for multi-purpose items you can use in many ways. Buy as you go so you don’t end up with things you don’t need. Sell, donate, or recycle outgrown items, and use storage containers to keep toys, from taking over.
And remember, your home should look like children live there. Yup, even if it means a coffee table strewn with a few toys here and there.
Get more tips:
- Everything I Wish Someone Had Told Me when I Was Pregnant
- How to Survive the Newborn Stage
- The Ultimate Newborn Shopping List
- Newborn Tips and Tricks for New Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
- Essential Things Your Body Needs After Giving Birth
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