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When our daughter was born we lived in a 700 square foot, one bedroom apartment. We were trying to save as much as we could and so we opted not to move into a two bedroom before she arrived.
It took significant planning and lots of rearranging to finally figure out how we could fit a crib and a few other select items that we deemed essentials.
While going through this process I spent LOTS of time on Pinterest and Google trying to find some advice on making this happen. I thought surely we aren’t the only ones who have been in this position.
But shockingly, I found almost nothing. No one had any advice for fitting a “nursery” in a one bedroom apartment.
After figuring things out on our own I decided to put together this little guide to hopefully help out others who are in a similar position.
First Figure out the Essentials
This may come as a bit of a surprise but the first thing you should do is decide what the essentials are for your baby. This will vary from parent to parent but here’s a few suggestions.
A place for the baby to sleep should be your first and chief priority.
This could be a cradle, bassinet, or a full size crib.
We opted for a full size crib. Partly because someone from our church gave it to us for free.
If we hadn’t been given this we probably would have opted for a bassinet because of its small size.
The next item on the agenda should be storage space. Babies seem to come with a lot of stuff.
There’s diapers, wipes, onesies, sleep sacks, socks, hats, toys, etc.
We were lucky enough to have many friends and family who gave us clothes and toys for our daughter before she was even born.
While this was extremely generous of them it definitely created a bit of a problem. Where do you store all of those 6-18 month outfits and toys until your child is ready for them?
You’ll want to select some type of storage system for keeping all of these items organized. This could be something small like these under crib storage bins. Or you could use these simple storage baskets (we almost went with this). Or a dresser, which is what we ultimately chose.
You want to find something functional a.k.a. easy to get to, while also taking up as little space as possible.
Now the goal in this first step isn’t necessarily to pick out the sleeping item and the storage device but to simply examine what you think is essential and what you feel will fit.
The last step, which we’ll get to, is to pick out the actual items you’ll use.Once you’ve narrowed down your essentials it’s time to really examine your space.
Second Find the Right Space
The goal here is to decide where you have space for your essential items.
Looking at your apartment it should be pretty easy to decide where you have space and where you don’t.
You may need to rearrange things to help you decided. We moved our bedroom furniture and dining room furniture a few times before we ultimately decided where to put everything.
If you’d like to read our rationale for where to put our daughters things you can read on below. Otherwise skip down to the next section.
In our apartment, the spaces we had were our living room, dining room, bedroom, and bedroom closet.
We considered each of these spaces as places for the baby to sleep and to store her stuff.
Now this may sound like an odd space to put your baby but some closets are huge. There is more than enough space for a small crib or bassinet. Ours was large but we decided it wasn’t the right place.
If your apartment has one of those jumbo closets it might be the right place to keep your baby’s things.
Our bedroom was our second choice and our daughter did end up sleeping in here for the first couple of weeks in a small portable crib.
You’ll have to decide if you want your baby sleeping in your room with you or not. There are many, many blog posts debating the pros and cons of having your baby sleep in your room. We’re not going to get into that here but when you’re short on space the best option may be to have your baby sleep in your room with you.
The next place we considered was our living room. We ditched this idea pretty quickly because moving our couch, TV, and coffee table seemed a little crazy.
This is where we ultimately decided to keep all of our daughters things. It was big enough for a crib and dresser but it wasn’t in the way. And our dining room table and chairs we really easy to disassemble and store flat behind our couch and in our closets.
Third, Buy What You Need and Set it Up
The final step is to get what you need and set it up.
Now before you run to the store you my want to bust out the tape measure so you know the dimensions of your space.
We bought a small rug to go next to our daughters crib but didn’t measure beforehand.
The rug fit but definitely not the best.
You can try and decide your exact layout before you get everything but I recommend just setting things up and then rearranging to make them fit the right way.
We had to shift things around a few times before we finally got it laid out the best way.
Now that you know the dimensions it’s time to hit the stores/internet and find the things you like. You should also check out your local Facebook garage sale group, local baby resale shops, and garage sales in your area. You never know what you might find.
Even though you have limited space and a limited budget you can create a fun nursery space for your little one. Even if it’s simply a corner in your bedroom you can make it special with a picture and a bassinet.
My last tip is to get everything set up before the baby arrives. Your stress level will already be high when bringing your little one home from the hospital and if your bassinet is still packed in a box it will only make things worse.
Good luck creating your nursery space for your little one! And if you have any comments or are looking for some tips on making your nursery space feel free to email us or write them in the comments section below.
Originally published in 2017, updated in 2022.