making room for #2

As soon as we found out we were expecting baby #2, I started thinking about exactly how we were going to fit another small human in our house. There’s not an obvious solution (like an extra room!), but people live in much tighter living situations with two kiddos so I feel confident we can come up with something that will work for us.

Last week, we learned that we are having another girl(!), so we thought we’d go ahead and post about our current ideas. Gender doesn’t really make a difference for our immediate spatial needs, but it is fun to scheme about long-term plans for growing in our house. In fact, the ultrasound technician may have been a little perplexed as Kyle and I excitedly chatted about doing a “someday” addition with a sleeping loft for the girls. (Girls!) But for now, the focus is making it work without adding on. Like we did with Avery, the new baby will sleep in our room for the first few months. Avery actually slept better in her crib (meaning we slept better!) so we might try making the transition even sooner this time depending on what feels right.

As for where the baby will go – the options really come down to Avery’s room or the downstairs bedroom/office.

nursery_existing

As a reminder, here’s the current layout of Avery’s room (above). It’s a decent size room, but with the two big sliding doors we really only have three walls to work with. This limits layout options and makes it largely impossible to add a second full-size crib (and I’m not sure that’s the best solution anyway). Spatial logistics aside, I think our biggest goal will be to encourage sleep which will translate to being flexible. Since we don’t know how their schedules will mesh (I’ve heard some kids sleep better apart and some together) we don’t want to back ourselves into a single solution. (Also, the distance from our room to either space is about the same, so that isn’t really a factor for us.)

So, two options:

nursery_new

Share a room – We’re big fans of room-sharing (we both shared with our younger siblings until we were teenagers) and I think this will definitely be the plan once the girls are a bit older. But until then, we will go with the setup that is best for sleep. This layout is cozy to say the least but I think it could work. The changes would actually be pretty minor and include:

Storage: the existing IKEA wardrobe and dresser have enough room to accommodate another kiddo for a while so I’m not too worried about that. There is some purging that can happen and we can replace the laundry basket (that currently sits on a shelf in the wardrobe) with a narrow hamper that sits between the dresser and wardrobe. I’ll probably remove another shelf and add two more drawers above the ones we already have. (I recently saw that IKEA no longer carries the plastic Pax drawers – I was bummed until I saw the replacement. Pretty!) The plywood toy/book storage boxes would still fit in this scenario but it would be tight.

Second crib: There’s really not enough room for a second full-size crib and I don’t think Avery will be ready to transition from hers anytime soon. (She has made no attempts to escape, so we’re not pushing it!) I tried rearranging to see if Avery’s crib could go somewhere else and free up more space, but it is in a good spot now as she can’t reach any switches or window shades/curtains. As a temporary solution, a mini crib makes sense. I think I would be completely sold on this idea if the one I wanted wasn’t so dang expensive. From what I’ve read, the reviews are mostly positive with the exception of just how long the crib can be used for (some babies outgrow it by 12 months and others can last until two). I think if we got at least a year out of it then Avery would be ready to transition to a “big girl” bed and baby #2 could move into the regular crib. I also feel confident that we could easily resell it on Craigslist and recoup some of the costs. Of course, the more pragmatic and logical side of me says to just use the Pack ‘n Play that we already own. It is bigger in size (somewhere between a mini crib and regular crib) but could probably fit. (It would be more cumbersome to move up and down the stairs, but I’ve done it before.) That said, it just feels too temporary to be a 12-month+ solution. #2 is already getting all the hand-me-downs from Avery so my less frugal and design-focused side says that we can afford to splurge on a few new items.

But I digress…

nursery_basement

Set up a satellite nursery in my office – If we find that it works better to have the girls in separate rooms, then the downstairs bedroom will become a guest bedroom/office/nursery. I’d have to do some purging and organizing (it still looks more or less like this, just messier), but I think we could make this work too. Because the space is already serving dual purposes, we keep all of our shared resources in Kyle’s office so I don’t actually have that much stuff. The desk and sofa bed would stay, leaving us enough room for a mini crib (or Pack ‘n Play, I guess…), the glider and the IKEA cart that’s already in the space. We would still keep most of the baby clothes and supplies in Avery’s room, but store extra diapers/wipes/clothes/etc. in the cart. We could also set-up a makeshift changing station on the chaise portion of the couch. Although we expect to use this room for visiting family after baby arrives, she would be in our room at the time so I think the overlap could work. And if we had guests later, we could just move the mini crib to our room or another part of the house. (I’m building a good argument for the mini crib, right?)

I admit that having a PC in a nursery is not very soothing (for baby or me!) but I think there are strategies to reduce the techy vibe. This setup could also work well during my “maternity leave”. As of now, I’m planning on working a reduced schedule after baby comes and as I get into the groove of having a newborn again. We would still have our regular nanny come to watch Avery during those first three months, leaving me more time to focus on #2 and work. With Avery, although my schedule was a little sporadic I was able to do quite a bit while she slept so maybe there’s something to be said about the two of us being holed up together in the downstairs room.

The good thing about these two options is that really, we can do both. We’ll probably start with the satellite nursery and go with that until we’re ready for the girls to share. Once Avery’s in a bigger bed and #2 is in a full-size crib, we’ll have to readjust again. At that point though, I think we’ll have a better idea of our long-term office plans (we’re still toying with the idea of remodeling the garage into a shop/office space). If we end up doing that, then the downstairs room could become a dedicated second bedroom or we convert that to a sleeping room for both girls and use the upstairs nursery as a play area. And if we eventually outgrow that, then we’ll do a small addition off the back of the house – a large family room of sorts with a third bathroom and sleeping loft above.

Anyone else out there making it work in a small house with two kiddos? Anyone used the Bloom Alma crib? We’d love to know what has worked (and what hasn’t!). I realize that the success of either scenario will depend on the kiddo and that one week may be completely different from another, so another reason we’re trying to stay as nimble as possible.

Comments

25 Responses to “making room for #2”

  1. Katie says:

    I think that being flexible is important, it’s great that you have a few options and have the ability to adjust if needed.

    If you haven’t already, check out overstock for mini cribs. When I was crib shopping I actually found a crib that I really liked (gray, clean lines), not realizing at first that it was a smaller size. I think it was on overstock…

  2. Lilly says:

    I love seeing you work out the puzzle, and I did the exact same thing obsessively as soon as I got pregnant πŸ™‚ in our case our son was pretty close to being ready for a transition, so we made him a bed and he stayed in the crib until our baby girl was about 3-4 months old (she was in a bassinet in our room). She ended up not transitioning until 7 months or so and went right into the vacant crib in thier shared room.

    BUT for a while I was thinking she would be in our tiny office until she was sleeping through the night (as it turns out he sleeps through or copes with her evening crying), and I went through the same pack and play versus mini crib debate. I got the baby bjorn travel bed and sold our Chicco pack and play because the ‘mattress’ was a little more substabtial and it was less of an eyesore, but she doesn’t love it and just obsesses over scratching the mesh sides. I was really surprised to see the high price the bloom mini crib fetched used. Most of the craigslist listings were barely discounted and I’m conflicted on the idea of a used mattress too. You’ve probably seen it, but the Babyletto Grayson is very similar and slightly larger than the Alma. But of course it’s MDF which is a bummer (but the ikea mattress support is MDF too so not sure if this is a deal breaker for you… I was wavering myself and almost went for it πŸ™‚

    Long email, I spent way too much time pondering this topic. Good luck, can’t wait to see how you work it out!

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Lilly, I did see the Babyletto (which does look *very* similar) but it only came in brown and navy blue (on Amazon anyway) so I wasn’t as excited. I didn’t get far enough to see that it was MDF which I guess explains the cheaper price. I was hesitant with the IKEA support at first, but we assembled the crib and let it “air out” several months before she was in it (and put an organic mattress over it, haha).

  3. Lisa says:

    I am one month into having 2 girls in an 800 sq ft apartment. We looked at the Bloom crib too – have you seen it in person? It is tiny, almost 8″ less wide than a portacrib or pack & play mattress. Good luck! It’s too early for me to offer any advice, but it’s fun so far. Watching my older daughter cuddle the newborn is worth the price of admission.

    • Lauren says:

      Yes, we saw it in person at a baby store and it *is* tiny! I know they have a larger version (the papa?) that’s still a “mini” but it’s just that much more expensive. Congrats on your two girls and glad to hear it’s going well!

  4. Martha says:

    Buy the mini crib already!

  5. Lisa L says:

    I would go with the mini crib. I have 2 boys sharing a room (17months apart) and we didn’t put the baby in the room until he was 4 months old and he was a terrible sleeper but our oldest didn’t wake for the most part. If the younger woke at night and it was too much for brother I would take the baby out and co-sleep or camp out in the living room. My boys are 3&4 now and do awesome sharing a room. A mini crib would have been nice to move around because neither of my boys liked the pack n play. I like both your options and once little girl arrives you can get to know her style and know what will work best for everyone.
    On a side note: I love seeing pics of Bailey, he reminds me of my golden who passed away last year. I picture that they have similar voices(our animals have certain voices, lol). Love me some goldens.

  6. colleen says:

    Just my 2 cents – I’d go for the mini crib over the pack and play since it’s a more supportive longer term solution for her. We had our daughter (same age as Avery) in the pack and play until she was 6 wks old or so, and asked our pediatrician when to move her to a crib in her own room. She said NOW. The pack and play mattress isn’t as supportive or comfortable for them and they will sleep better on a real mattress. So we ordered our crib and mattress that day (I’d been putting it off). It’s worked great! They pack and play is fine for a week’s vacation or naps at grandma’s, but I don’t think she’ll be as happy in it long term. But in the end, it’s what’s best for your daughter’s personality, your budget, and your space restrictions. Good luck!

    Check out the comments section on this post for more input =)
    http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2013/03/help-where-should-new-baby-sleep.html

  7. Kara says:

    You have exactly the right attitude — flexibility. So much of it depends on the girls’ individual personalities and sleep habits. I was dying to move our girls in together so I could have a dedicated office, so right when the baby (Meredith) turned one we put her crib in my 3-year-old’s (Lydia) room. That was over Christmas. They are 2 years and 4 months apart. Lydia had been in a twin bed since a few months before Meredith was born because I didn’t want to buy a second crib, though I kind of regret that. It’s fine now, but it was a tough transition.

    Room-sharing has worked well for us. At first it was challenging because Meredith has always been a lighter sleeper than Lydia, who sleeps very soundly. We started out by putting Lydia to bed first because she was in a screaming phase and would wake up Meredith if she was already down, but Meredith couldn’t wake up Lydia no matter how much noise she made. Now Meredith has adjusted and sleeps through interruptions better (a HUGE plus for room-sharing) and Lydia has learned that she has to be very very quiet after Meredith goes to sleep (another benefit). They love sharing a room.

    In hindsight, I think we could have moved them in together sooner. I was just nervous about how it would actually work.

    FWIW, I don’t think that’s a terrible price for a good quality mini crib. I don’t think a pack ‘n play is a great long-term solution; plastic is uncomfortable to sleep on because it makes you sweaty, and my kids get hot at night as it is. And at 16 months Meredith still only takes up the top half of her full-size crib, so you might be able to use it beyond one year if Avery is happy in the big crib that long.

  8. Jenn says:

    Chiming-in the same as others, and confirming that it is great that you are so flexible with the arrangements for baby girl number 2. Our children share a room (boy 7 and girl 10!! can’t believe these ages), and have done so from about four-six months after baby 2 was born. Although we moved back and forth depending on what worked best at the time. Because the children are three years apart, our oldest was out of a crib by the time baby was ready to move into it. That being said, we had an apartment sized crib, I’ve often thought about updating and selling a model of the crib. Although up to code, the crib we used was my crib (and my older sister’s crib) that my parents brought with the when the emigrated from Scotland. The crib has a roll-top at the end of it, that stores diapers and clothes, and when ‘rolled-up’ covers the crib and can be used as a change table. It was handy, I didn’t use the change table option all that often. Anyhow, I’m digressing because I loved that crib so much.
    The kids share a room still, and we’re going to have to update the layout for their current room, as I had customized one of their beds to fit in the nook in the bedroom, thereby leaving more play area in the centre of the room, but darn those children, they keep growing and I’m going to have to reconfigure the room to accommodate two longer beds now! πŸ™‚
    Both of the rooms you’ve layout look great. The longer term plan of having the office in the garage sounds terrific. We’re still trying to figure out if we can fit a loft bedroom in, or do something to make the laundry room a third bedroom. Small homes take some clever finagling, but it is amazing what can be done in with the space.
    Good luck

  9. Caitlin says:

    Congrats on #2! I don’t have experience with two babies in one room, but we did use a mini crib at first. We got the Orbelle Tina from wayfair.com (I liked the Tian design better, but it was sold out in black). It is bigger than the Bloom, but still small. By the time our son was 9 months old he was not sleeping well in it. He tosses and turns, sleeps all sorts of directions, and once he became longer than the depth (24″), he woke up a lot. We upgraded to a full size crib and it made all the difference. Hopefully the mini crib will work longer for you! Check out the Orbelle cribs. Ours worked great (although we did get a different mattress for it [Naturepedic Organic Cotton] the one that comes with it is too thin) and you’ll want to get a crib skirt since the plywood mattress platform isn’t attractive. We saved ours for future #2 πŸ™‚

  10. Brianne says:

    Congrats on your second girl – I can’t wait to see how she fits into your family and house (I’m sure it will be swimmingly!)

  11. Laura says:

    I had a bloom for my second baby. It is expensive, but a fair price for the quality. It is really nicely made and I am so glad we got it.

    We really only could use it for about a year, but we craigslisted it and it sold within 2 days, so the net cost ended up being comparable to a pack n play.

    I vote for getting the crib you really like.

  12. Colleen says:

    Hi – we are going through the exact same situation right now – we have a 16 month old daughter and are expecting a boy in the end of September. While we have three bedrooms we really want to keep one as a guest room because we have family visit and have even dabbled with making the third room have a murphy bed that folds up and keeping that room as more of a playroom…. as the toy collection begins to grow our small townhouse living room/dining room/ work area is getting more and more crowded. So we are hoping to put both kids in our smallest room which actually has a similar setup to yours with a large door opening (although we still haven’t put up doors/ we use ikea curtains πŸ™‚ and a window on the far wall. Our plan currently is to get rid of everything with the exception of the dresser and an ikea poang rocker and put both kids in the same room. Our daughter too hasn’t tried to climb out of the crib but I don’t see it far off and I just can’t bring myself to buy another crib. So we are going to give her a new hand-me-down toddler bed and put the new baby in the crib (after a hopefully short stint in our room). I would talk to your pediatrician about the transition as well ~ ours said not to make any changes to our daughter’s space unless the changes happened 2 months before or 2 months after the baby was born – that way she would have plenty of time to adjust. I just started reading your blog so looking forward to going back to read more and see how you continue to evolve the space!
    Colleen

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Colleen. I think we’ll have #2 in our room for at least 6-8 weeks and then more than likely move her downstairs until she’s at least 3 months, so hopefully there will be plenty of time to transition. But I totally hear where you’re coming from (and also another reason I’m not even thinking about potty training before then!).

  13. Jamie says:

    We also have two girls and are planning for them to share a room, which I think will be fun for them and also allow us to use the third bedroom as an office/guest room (though not the work from home kind). We did transition the older one to a twin bed before age two, but I think if the crib continues working for Avery, using a mini-crib is a great idea! We found teeth marks on our crib one day, so we actually transitioned to the bed earlier than we originally planned to. I thought the girls would be sharing a room way before now, but the younger one is still in a crib in our room. I just can’t make myself move them together and risk the extra wake-ups just yet. We put them to bed at the same time, so having two separate spaces for their separate bedtime routines is nice too. I think the flexible and “best for sleep” plan you have is great. I’m sure it will work out well.

  14. Jenna says:

    What wonderful news! We are so happy for you guys!!
    Can’t wait to meet her.
    πŸ™‚ Jenna (& Zeke)

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