Raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment… with a dog? Yes, we did that!
Prior to getting married, my husband and I agreed that he would move from his condo to my condo, although his condo is about 100 square feet larger than mine, because his condo was downtown and I would have to rent a parking space on a monthly basis. My dog also has allergies and his carpeted floor would be an issue (although not that big of an issue as we could have always removed the carpet). His condo also doesn’t have much in the way of a balcony which is a must for me to not feel claustrophobic.
When we got married we found out shortly after we were expecting and then the panic ensued. I started fretting about how we were going to make a one bedroom 450 square feet space work for two adults, a baby, and a small dog.
Related: Working During Maternity Leave in Canada: What Happens
We started looking at two bedroom spaces to rent, but the rental prices were just too much for what was available compared to my mortgage and maintenance fees I was paying now. One place was a ‘garden level’ suite which was really a euphemism for a basement suite and you could hear the kids upstairs (at least 2-3 kids?) stomping around and screaming. Another place we looked at seemed nice but they had a strict pet policy and bike policy (my husband refused to leave his bike in a bike locker).
Related: How to Fight Back Against the Motherhood Penalty
Therefore we felt that since we have always been wanting to make small spaces work and we embrace the idea of minimalism and throwing things away (I was obsessed with Resource Furniture and their functional designs), we would try to make this work. It would be for short term anyway until the little one was 1.5 to 2 years of age.
Related: Financial Checklist for New Parents in Canada
When I tell people I know that we are making 450 square feet work I usually get incredulous looks. So far, 450 square feet has worked for both of us and one dog and we haven’t wanted to strangle each other yet, so hopefully adding a baby to the mix won’t be too bad.
I was inspired by 600 Square Feet and a Baby who now has two children in 600 square feet and makes it look effortless and very Instagram worthy and has a Resource furniture Penelope Wall bed.
So then the idea was born of getting rid of 365 things in my condo (of my stuff, in my personal finance goals for 2017) and my husband did his fair share of getting rid of his stuff (though he still has all his Berkshire Hathaway Annual Reports that he treasures) to fit into the apartment.
Living in a one bedroom apartment with a child is definitely doable at least for the first year or two, but you have to make some changes initially. I think living in a studio apartment with a baby would be more difficult.
Raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment, you need to go vertical. This is how we were making room for a baby in one bedroom apartment:
Thankfully my condo has some pretty highish ceilings so we went vertical. Nothing fancy but it’ll do temporarily.
- We fixed my Dyson Vacuum onto the wall (I swear I should have done that eons ago, it’s so handy when it’s hung on the wall!)
- We put up a shelf to hold the baby stuff (toys, extra diapers, books)
- We put an Ikea rack in the bathroom to put our extra towels and supplies for baby bath time (it looks crooked but it really isn’t!)
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- We bought a two person dining table that folds into the wall
- Hung up a changing station with diapers, washcloths, and wipes
When you are sharing a room with baby and raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment, there was a lot of evaluating whether we needed things that we currently own and a lot of getting creative. There’s a lot of organizing.
- Turned my printer area into a change table by adding a changing pad on top of it, moving the printer off it (obviously haha) and getting rid of books etc. in the cabinets and putting baby paraphernalia in it instead
- We dedicated a drawer in our bed to baby clothing, 0-6 months and have other clothing tucked away in a Rubbermaid tote
BOUGHT COMPACT BABY GEAR
Raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment involves getting things that could be stored away or folded. There was no real nursery for baby and that was okay with us.
- We bought a Babyletto Origami Mini Crib on Amazon for $269 that has wheels and is in my favourite colour, which they call Lagoon. We are hoping the mini crib will last until the baby is 1.5 to 2 years old. It was much cheaper to buy on Amazon than at the local stores in Canada (over $400 for the same crib). When buying a crib in the United States you have to make sure they sell the same crib in Canada or else the customs officials won’t allow you to bring it over.
- We have a Brica Fold N’ Go Travel Bassinet (it’s mesh) and can be stowed away when not in use.
- We also got a Baby Box that we got for free from Baby Box Co that we use as a bassinet (and can use as storage for toys after the bassinet is not needed). Our baby liked this initially but then kept banging his hands and feet against the cardboard so doesn’t like it as much as the Brica Fold N’ Go bassinet
- We bought a Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bathtub (used, on Craigslist for $30) that folds relatively flat and can be tucked away. We actually hang it on that Ikea rack you saw earlier where it dries nicely after bath time.
Hopefully, the above tips will help you realize that you have more space than you need, and if I can raise a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment (two adults, one small dog, and one baby) you can too!
When our baby became a toddler, we had to keep changing our one bedroom apartment around to accommodate our growing baby.
We Got Rid of a Lot More Stuff
Including my computer desk. Initially, my computer desk was in the bedroom. This was somewhat fine when we were using the bassinet (except at night time I would sneak out my laptop from my computer desk so I could work on the blog).
We would put the bassinet or the baby box on the floor and baby GYM would sleep in that beside our bed. Then he got bigger and we had break out the mini crib. I initially had dreams of moving the mini crib (since it had wheels) in and out of our bedroom with ease so that I could use the room at night to work on the computer. I probably did that only twice. The mini crib did not fit well with the desk and our bed in the room. I had to walk sideways to avoid hitting the crib or the desk.
Because walking sideways and trying not to hit the mini crib and our bed was not working at all, I got rid of my computer desk and bought another one (about 1/4 of the size, it basically looks like a student desk) on Craigslist. The new desk is now located in the living room. It is within baby GYM’s play area but he’s not tall enough to grab my laptop off the computer desk yet, thankfully. In the bedroom is just the change table, baby GYM’s crib, and our bed now.
We also got rid of one of the fold-out futon chairs and opened one up so now it permanently looks like a futon in our living room (the cushion is placed to the side). It looks like this 100% of the time now (instead of folded up in a sofa):
We Never Got that Resource Furniture Bed
Raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment we thought about splurging on furniture like a wall bed. We were hoping that we could cosleep in the same room with baby GYM until he was 18 months or so. At around the 10-month mark, he started waking up at 5:00 every morning and would see me, stand in his crib, and wail. He would not sit back down. He would wake up for the day at 5:00 am. It went on for a few weeks and I was quite exasperated and exhausted (THIS IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!! I was the irritable woman from H*LL).
We went to Vegas on the YOLO trip and we attempted to start ‘sleep training’ him again there. He couldn’t see us from where his Pack N Play was in the hotel room and he actually slept better than he did at home!
Then when we got home we did an experiment and slept outside of the room. The experiment turned into a permanent arrangement. I once tried sleeping in the bedroom again but he woke up early for the day so I dare not try again. Now we sleep in the living room.
You know that beautiful Penelope wall bed from Resource Furniture that we coveted so much? We never ended up getting it. These wall beds range from $5000 to $10,000.
I really wanted one but we couldn’t justify the cost given that we will need the wall bed for a finite duration of time (as we are building a home ICYMI). In addition, there is a pendant light hanging from the ceiling and the wall bed would hit it when it opens up. I know that it can be fixed or the light can be adjusted or changed, but it is just too much work to look into or pay extra money for. We can barely figure out how to put the non-bucket seat car seat into the car!
An alternative is to get a sofa bed that pulls out but some of the ones we looked at weren’t that comfortable and we would have to get rid of my current smaller desk (the one that is in the living room) to accommodate the sofa bed.
Currently, we are making do with what we have. We are a family of 3 in a one bedroom apartment and are making it work.
And what we have is a Skip Hop Mat. LOL.
Yes, We Are Sleeping on The Floor. On a Baby Play Mat
This is what baby GYM plays on during the day (we bought it on Amazon but one of the best purchases ever, we bought it at the 6 month mark when I was worried that baby GYM wasn’t sitting up because we didn’t have a soft area for him to play in or fall on if he fell over while trying to sit). About 2 days after we got that mat, he started sitting up! Anxious mom (me) was relieved.
Back to sleeping on the floor. We have been sleeping on the floor for a few months now. We figured there are plenty of people that sleep on yoga mats or sleep on Japanese futons or tatami mats (in fact, there are many touted health benefits to sleeping on the floor according to Elite Daily), why not a Skip Hop mat?
I mean, style idol Sherry from Save Spend Splurge sleeps on a minimalist Japanese futon and loves it- so maybe we are channelling her style and minimalism in a way 😉
Sometimes I sleep on the sofa/futon too but I find the futon worse for my back than the Skip Hop mat. The Skip Hop mat was not bad but sometimes my hips would hurt in the morning. I put my MEC sleeping pad on top of the Skip Hop mat (yes, like camping every day… but at home) and then this fixed the hip aching problem.
Is this another easy way to add a little minimalism to our lives, or perhaps sleeping on the floor has gone too far? 😉
Embrace Baby Minimalism
One key thing to raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment is to embrace baby minimalism. Like start by saying no to baby showers.
One way we’ve tried to keep ‘stuff’ from accumulating in our small space is my gently saying no to baby showers. Instead of a baby shower at my workplace, we had a ‘going away’ get together, no decorations, no gifts, and instead, guests could bring a small item of food for myself to freeze so I can easily heat it up in times of need (aka post partum).
It was great except for the fact that everyone was enjoying a glass of wine and I couldn’t haha. It was a nice experience and I’m not one for baby games (you know, guessing the chocolate bar brand in the diaper?).
I know some people really like to give gifts or baby clothes (trust me, I was one of them) and that’s fine but you can get the person organizing your ‘baby shower’ to ask for food or something else in lieu of gifts. When I organized a work baby shower for my colleague we collected money for a gift card to Baby’s R Us so they can choose what they want or what they need.
ask for a meal train instead
Before you deliver, instead of baby gifts, ask for food instead. There’s a website that’s similar to Doodle in a way and helps you organize a meal train for your friend. It’s called Meal Train and all you have to do is put in meal preferences and name and how to drop off the meals and days of the week, you can check out the link on how it works, and best of all, the basic option is FREE to do. Then send it out to people and they sign up for the day of the week. It’s great for new babies, people recovering from surgery, or other reasons people will need help cooking.
For inspiration, here are 10 Meals you should make for your friends with new babies from Pinch of Yum. My colleagues gave me chilli, chicken pot pie, tuna casserole and to be honest, it’s better than any baby gift- the gift of time and saving energy.
Their home cooked meals and effort they put into the meal is to me, more heart warming than buying a pacifier or $35 diaper cream.
remind yourself that you don’t need to buy new
Craigslist, LetGo, Varage Sale are your friends. Even better, your friends are your friends. Raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment we didn’t buy new. We basically didn’t buy any clothes at all for our new baby, we have some lovely hand-me-downs that are practically brand new since a lot of babies just wear something once and then can’t fit them anymore.
With buying something second-hand, when you have to search for something you really need for your baby it will increase your mindfulness about what you’re planning to purchase and decrease the risk of buying something for the sake of it.
avoid the baby stores if you can
Even though the Canada Child Tax Benefits payment dates are probably ingrained in your memory, you’ll probably want to spend that money on diapers and future child care instead of a portable bottle warmer.
Probably the easiest way to embrace raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment is to avoid the baby stores if you can. I’m not much of a shopper anyway but seeing the fancy boutique baby stores such as West Coast Kids makes you really want to buy everything in there. It is always overwhelming when I see the array of options available for a diaper cream.
“Oh isn’t this cute!!” is quickly going to manifest itself into purchasing something when you might not really need it.
Believe me, I’ve been in that store a few times and it’s really hard to walk out without purchasing something, especially when you get your Child Tax Benefit money!
Of course, it can be hard to say no to free baby stuff in the pursuit of a minimalist lifestyle with baby, but you can always give stuff away to friends with babies too if you don’t need the things you get for free.
We will see what the next few months have in store for this family of three living in a one bedroom apartment with a dog. So far what has helped is that we go outside every day with baby GYM (well, I have to walk the dog anyway) and he loves going outside, or to the library, or just for a stroll. We have less than a year before we make the move to a bigger place. It will be interesting to see what other changes we will make to our limited space in the meantime.
If you are living in a one bedroom, hopefully by the time your child qualifies for the free $1200 in RESP money from the BC government through the BCTESG, you will be in a larger space.
What has your experience been raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.
14 thoughts on “Raising a baby in a 1 bedroom apartment: A How-To”
I *really* love how you decorated your space! It looks quite spacious, and I think going vertical with storage is a fantastic idea. Congrats on the little one! 🙂
@Mrs. Picky Pincher- Awe thanks!! That compliment means a lot because what we have is so basic and we are trying to make do with what space we have. His changing table is basically beside my shoes hung behind the door and also beside my computer desk lol.
Wow, 450 square feet. This makes my old house (1030 sqft) look like a mansion. Having two kids myself, such a small space will definitely be a challenge. Just curious, with such a small space, do you entertain family or friends in this space?
@Leo- It would definitely be difficult to fit two kids in here lol. We’re both pretty introverted so we don’t do much entertaining, that being said we’ve had a few friends at a time over (like 1-2) where we make dinner etc.
Wow, you really figured out a lot of ways to save space! I particularly like the idea of hanging your vacuum cleaner on the wall – I wouldn’t have thought of that.
You’re inspiring me to want to downsize from our 1,150 square foot apartment! Our lease is up in March, so we’ll see whether we decide to stay or downsize more.
@Mr. Freaky Frugal- I tried! It still feels a bit cramped to be honest. The vacuum cleaner I have (Dyson) came with a wall attachment so it was only natural, it wasn’t my idea really haha. I think 1150 square foot for two people is perfect (actually apparently the recommended minimum space per person is around 250-400 square feet an adult), and if you have children/grandchildren wanting to stay/visit it makes it better for that too!
Ohhh you just gave me some interesting furniture porn to browse. I didn’t know of them at all…and I like the furniture, not for small space but for overall an open space. Open space to be uncluttered and feel big and free in. No show room in Seattle sadly ;(
@Lily- Haha furniture porn. I followed Resource Furniture on Instagram just yesterday! I hate clutter, it makes me feel irritable. The side effect of living in a 450 square feet apartment is that I get into a cleaning/decluttering frenzy at 9:23pm at night.
This is impressive. You have made such efficient use of your square footage and met all of your family’s needs. It’s hard to imagine making that amount of space work for a family of three, and it looks like you are thriving! Thanks for sharing!
@Hailey- I wouldn’t say “thriving” 😉 Right now we are sleeping on the Skip Hop Mat and twin futon haha. We are managing that’s for sure. It’s easier when they are smaller and non-mobile, that’s for sure!
It is no issue to have a baby in that size space. Babies don’t know and don’t care about this stuff. When my son was a baby we rented a unit so small that our son’s crib was in the closet with the door removed. Seriously we laugh about it now and we had a wonderful time.
Kids don’t care- until they are around Grade 5ish or so and their snobby friends might come over.?
@Dr. MB- Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 Hah, we had contemplated putting our baby in the closet too (with the door removed).
Very impressive, it is amazing that you live in 450 square feet! I understand why you might get the incredulous looks but it is an experience you will never forget!
For baby stuff I completely agree avoid baby stores. Before the pandemic they used to have outgrown it sales a few times a year. Those were the best place to get baby stuff. As it was parents reselling their kids stuff from clothes to toys. I know we got amazing deals at those events and would recommend them to everyone.
@FF- Not anymore, this was before. We would not be able to survive with two kids in a 1 bedroom, I don’t think. I love hand me downs for kids too!