The Nursery and Toys and Books
Think MIA socks were a problem before you had a baby? Try keeping tabs on booties the size of business cards. An infant comes with an overwhelming new wardrobe, but these clever strategies can help you keep his adorable duds corralled:
Wrangle footwear. Unlike your leather boots, Baby's kicks fit snugly into tight spaces. Why not line them up on a shelf where they can double as d?cor or pair them in the compartments of an over-the-door organizer? It can serve as a happy home for all those bodysuits and socks too.
Sort accessories. What's sadder than a miniature mitten that's lost its mate? Use a tool that divides your drawers into oodles of sections to make sure socks, headbands, hats, and other itty-bitties stay put.
Decide whether to hang or fold. If it can wrinkle, better to hang it up. "Go vertical with dresses, three-piece outfits, and collared shirts," recommends Brooke. Baby clothes are short -- if you're tight on closet space, you can mount a tension rod, and voil?: You've doubled your hanging area! No closet? An armoire can solve your problem. "Fold and sort bodysuits, pajamas, and other knit items in labeled baskets, on shelves, or in dresser drawers," Brooke says. To outfit your sweet pea in a flash, store folded outfits together, suggests Jaime Thompson, of Stuart, Florida, and mom of Aubrie, 2. "I started a drawer of matching sets, so in the morning, I don't have to dig around for tops that match bottoms."
Group garb by size. Even before baby makes her debut, you'll have heaps of clothing on your hands -- and odds are, sizes will be all over the map. To keep track, "hang and fold anything ranging from infant-size to 0-3 months," Brooke says. Store the rest of her togs in space-saver vacuum sacks or laundry bags, sorted and labeled by size. Stay one step ahead of a pileup by relocating duds as soon as your kid outgrows them, says Anne Chertoff, of New York City, and the mother of Rebecca Belle, 2, and Jack, 1. Label an empty box with your baby's size, and leave it in the closet so you can toss in clothes as they get too tight. If you plan on expanding your family, whisk the box up to the attic when it's filled; you can keep it on standby for the next baby. Sure the shop is closed? Identify a pregnant pal to be the recipient of your tot's too-small clothes as she grows, and pass them off every few months. No buddy to accept your bounty? Give it away on Freecycle.org. You'll feel like Mrs. Claus!
TOYS AND BOOKS
Once Baby becomes mobile, he can blanket every inch of your floor with books and toys in a moment. Avoid an eyesore (and a twisted ankle) by keeping playtime bedlam at bay.
Store kids' stuff in adult furniture. Skip toy boxes, which Brooke calls "big black holes where things get lost." If your nursery is tiny (and your playroom is nonexistent), prevent the living room from looking like Plasticville by investing in a stately piece of furniture with lots of drawers. Thompson uses an entertainment center. "This way, I can organize the toys and still have the space look like a functional, adult room." Alternatively, an affordable cube organizer, laid horizontally so it isn't a falling hazard, works. As your stuff grows, you can spring for a second cube and put them side by side. Hide toys in cloth bins, and switch to clear media boxes as your child gets bigger and his toys get smaller. Bins and baskets are better for storing all his great reads too, she says -- bookcases have a way of becoming disheveled.
Rotate toys. Have two containers, Crew says. Put one out and leave the other in storage. "Switch them once a month to keep things fresh." The "new" selections will suddenly seem more interesting to your tot, Crew says. More smiles, less clutter -- cool!
Know when to let go. Don't let books and toys sit ignored. "Be brutally honest with yourself," Chertoff says. "If your kid is no longer playing with a toy or reading a book, ditch it or donate it." You can recycle toys and fund future purchases through StorkBrokers.com (Like a Craigslist for kids' loot, it matches you with nearby buyers and sellers.)
Originally published in the May 2012 issue of American Baby magazine.
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