calming the chaos (kind of): storage solutions for baby gear

9th October 2013

One thing that has come along with our new little lady has been a lot of stuff. You know, the baby gear. I don’t even feel like we have tons of gear at this stage, but boy does it ever seem to pile up. And I know it’s only going to get crazier as this kiddo grows and more actively wants to play with things!

In case you didn’t realize it already, I’m not one that likes things to be super un-tidy. I can totally deal with a dirty house (okay not forever… but I can let the chores slide for a good long while), but clutter everywhere? Nope. Really don’t like it. Drives me bonkers. So this whole baby gear stuff is throwing me for a bit of a loop.

Here are the few things I have done so far to try and keep it all under control (sort of).

Maya’s nursery is organized to the brim with clothes, diapers, books, blankets, her baby bathtub, carriers, etc – with a customized closet to fit her things perfectly. As you know, we live in a small two bedroom bungalow (with a basement that’s rented out), so storage space is at a premium.

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I use a bin on her dresser to keep diaper changing gear on hand.

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We have even used the space under the crib to store some awkwardly-sized items – like playmats with big overhead bars (you can see them poking out in the photo below).

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In the living room we have a bassinet on the floor which she has some daytime naps in, and a baby vibrating chair out in the open. I have done my best to give the smaller items specific homes that are out of the way. For example, all of the small soft toys are piled up in a basket that tucks under the coffee table.

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We have a small blanket and pillow that stays out on the floor (play time!), but the rest of the squishy tiles and mats live in the cabinet next to the TV. We have dedicated that whole cabinet to baby things, so there is an easy spot to put things away in at the end of the day.

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I have even managed a still-empty basket at the bottom of our bookshelf in the living room, ready to store board books and puzzles when we get to that stage.

Bottles and other feeding gear have been sorted into baskets and tucked between the fridge and the upper cabinet – easy to access and slide in and out.

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Our kitchen counter has a new bottle dry-rack (it looks like grass – cute!) to hold all of our bottle/pumping supplies. There is one bowl out dedicated to dirty bottle paraphernalia (I don’t always have a free hand to wash everything right away), and another bowl dedicated to bottle warming. Because we had some major breastfeeding challenges, I’m officially a “pumper”, so we always have a lot of bottle stuff on the go. The counters look so cluttered now and I definitely miss the white space.. but there isn’t much I can do about it with our wee little kitchen!

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As much as I have tried to give everything a certain place, there are still things that don’t have a dedicated “home”. The stroller lives in our entryway, where the car seat is also often hanging around.

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The bathtub usually just sits on the floor in the nursery when it’s not being used. The carrier, although sometimes hung up by the front door, is often just flung around wherever we last took it off. And our second bouncy seat that I use to entertain Maya in the morning while I’m getting ready sits in the corner of our bedroom.

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So that’s my attempt at keeping the baby gear under control for now. I know it’s going to just get crazier from here. You win some, you lose some, right? If all of these colourful things keep my little gal happy and entertained, well then I’m thrilled to oblige.

What about you guys? Do you have any baby gear organizational tips? I’m all ears!

  • Catherine

    I think you are doing a great job!! And I think sometimes we think we need more than we really do…. we just need to find balance!

    Our house is a little bigger, but we still struggle with storage space.. but you might be happy to know that I was able to still control baby/kid stuff/toys in our house! Léa doesn’t have a gazillion toys compared to other families we know.. and as she got bigger, we really limited her toys depending on the storage space we had for it!

    My kid is a book worm.. so we do have lots and lots and lots of kids books everywhere.. but I took that into consideration while planning her big girl room and she will now have lots of space in her bedroom to store many books… freeing space in the living room for baby toys since baby girl 2 is on the way..

    I also have dedicated space around the house for her… one cabinet in the kitchen for all her coloring/craft/sticker needs with a little table for her to work on.. A corner with her play kitchen (and all the kitchen play toys fit in it..no overflow!)

    I think it might get more challenging as baby number 2 arrives, but I really think if we stick to our rules of not having too many toys for the kids (I think its also good for developping their imagination and creativity) we should be able to manage! I can tell you more about that in about 6 to 10 months!! hahaha! The good thing is now as baby 2 will grow, I won’t need to store clothes and toys in case the next baby can use it… there will not be a next baby!! (Our basement crawlspace is full of rubbermaid containers full of baby clothes & items.. can’t wait to get them all… use them one more time and then pass them along to the next family!)

    • gemma

      Great ideas, Catherine, and I’m glad to hear you have been able to manage so well. I’m definitely with you on now wanting too many toys — inspires creativity for sure!! I’ll look forward to hearing about how things go with #2!!

      xo,
      gem

  • jackie

    Hey Gemma,
    I started out in a condo and was the same with everything. Then we moved into a house and …KER-PLODE! People started buying him little and big dumptrucks, we bought him a train table, someone bought him a stupid plastic workbench, etc, etc. I became “that” person I never thought I would be with way.too.much.kid.crap everywhere. I mean, I can put it away at the end of the night, but the sheer enormity of what we have is scary and horrid, HORRID! lol. Hey, I pumped for 9 months and had to take a lot of a drug called motilium to keep my milk up as I pumped 1L/day (yeah, he was hungry). If you ever want to discuss the logistics of how to do it, please email me. It’s very challenging and I had really good tricks.

    • gemma

      Yeah.. the intentions are great with all of the gifts, but I know what you mean about overload! I am really hoping to avoid that.. we’ll see! And thanks for the sweet message about pumping. It’s a total pain, but we had so many breastfeeding challenges that it was our only real option. Unfortunately my supply is super low (I’m on the drugs too – my Mum had low supply with me, so maybe it’s genetic?), but I’m pumping what I can. I’ve got a pretty good system down now with a few tricks that others shared — thanks though!! I’m so impressed that you did it for 9 months, and were able to produce 1L/day. Go you!!

      xo,
      gem

      • Catherine

        I had so little milk myself that pumping wasn’t even really an option… I wouldn’t even get an ounce out after 20 minutes of the electric pump going… soo frustrating!! We were happy enough that breastfeeding wasn’t a challenge.. so I would breastfeed once a day, in the morning, supplement with formula the rest of the day and that was it… lasted for 6 months thanks to the drugs! I too think it might be genetic… My mom didn’t have enough for us and her mom didn’t have enough for her kids.. In the end.. my kid was happy and healthy and best of all, I could enjoy time away while others were feeding her… gotta find the good side of things!

  • http://shoes-off-please.com Gilit

    I totally feel you, we have the same situation! Two bedroom, no basement/attic storage, stroller in the entryway situation. I find the trickiest thing is as they get older, storing the clothes they’ve outgrown and managing the amount of incoming toys. Even when we manage it we have a very generous family and two kids with way too many toys that I sometimes try to discreetly donate if I feel they aren’t educational/necessary/loved.It’s been nice watching the transition into motherhood because it feels just like mine did. You’re doing great! (Wow that sounds like I’m saying I did great, well both kids are happy and healthy so that’s all I can ask for, right?)

    • gemma

      Aww thanks! Yeah we have been so lucky and people have already handed down bigger girl clothes, so LUCKILY I have been able to store some tupperware bins of them at my parents’ place, who don’t live too far away. Thank goodness!! And I’m sure you are doing fabulous… happy and healthy is what it’s all about!! :)

      xo,
      gem

  • Kat Riggs

    Hey Gemma
    Great to hear that you guys are doing so well. Your blog made me smile. I to hate clutter and too much stuff, but alas Caleb and baby # 2 are working on my letting go. Enjoy the organization now:) some days it will seem as though you just tidied up and everything is a mess again. Best thing I got was the canvas 3 sprouts bin. Cute and easy to chuck toys into quickly to make clean up fast and satisfying. It also replaced the smaller metal bin we had after Caleb decided to us that bin as a drum regularly in the morning.
    Take care kat and the boys

    • gemma

      Haha the letting go thing is what I’m trying to get used to! Glad to know I’m not the only one! I have seen those 3 sprouts bins – super cute. I’m all about the baskets/bins.. I think they are the key. Thanks Kat!

      xo,
      gem

  • http://www.smallhomebigstart.com Amanda – Small Home Big Start

    Great tips! Where did you find that black and white basket for the toys? I love it!

    • gemma

      It was from HomeSense about 6 months ago. They had a grey version too! Hopefully they are still there :)

      xo,
      gem

  • http://reuschinteriordesign.blogspot.com Laney Reusch / Reusch Interior Design

    Great post! When my little one (now 8) was a baby there was NO organization…it was all about just getting through. Good for you for taking the time!
    That closet is darling!

  • http://www.brooklynlimestone.com mrs limestone

    I have the same issues. Pre 6 months, it was pretty easy to keep her stuff contained in bins, etc but as she is getting older her toys are getting larger and harder to hide.

    ps: Maya’s close is so super cute!

    • gemma

      That’s what I’m worried about!! I’d love to hear any tips you’ve got :)

      xo,
      gem