Broke-Ass Mom: Making Room for Baby

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Living in an urban setting? Do you have a new squatter growing in your belly? Want desperately to retain your one-bedroom apartment from your bachelor days? Do it!  You’ll be seen as the “cool parents” on the block, and even the suburbanites will yearn for your life.  Just don’t let your baby’s first words be “Are you shitting me? This is it?”

Ask yourself this:

Does a 7lb 6oz 19 inch long person who literally only eats, sleeps, and poops REALLLY need its’ own wing complete with a full-size crib, chest of drawers, rocking chair, bookshelf, stuffed animals, mobile, changing table, and a walk-in closet?

If the answer to that question was yes, then you might be in the wrong place…this is BROKE-ASS, people. Once you realize how little a baby needs, you can free your mind and your wallet by letting go of decorating the baby’s room.

This is not forever.  Don’t freak out.

It will be okay.

Just take a deep breath.

Remind yourself that babies really only need places for two things: sleeping and pooping.

You can buy yourself about three months with a Moses basket as a temporary sleeping solution.  Craigslist has quite a few of these.  Then once you’re finished with it you can re-sell it, maybe even make a profit, why not? And by the end of the three months you’ll put your baby just about anywhere.  Hell, you’ll even consider the back porch if you thought your in-laws would approve.  But instead of risking a visit from CPS, consider a walk-in closet.

There are several cribs that will most likely fit into a closet and you can buy them used to save some cash:

  1. Baby Bjorn Travel Crib – great for bringing on trips or to friends’ houses
  2. Graco Pack N’ Play – same benefits as above
  3. Alma – a REAL crib just smaller and foldable
  4. Stokke Sleepi – also a real crib but transforms from a bassinet, to a crib, to a toddler bed (these are more expensive — but you can find one used for $400 and it lasts for about 7 years)

Leave the closet door open, hang some black out curtains to block the noise and light, and throw in a space heater to regulate the temperature (or a fan, depending on your climate).  A baby monitor with a temperature gauge can help you determine if the closet is too warm or too cold.  This isn’t entirely necessary, but if you’re going to purchase one anyhow make sure it has a thermometer on it.

You’ll be surprised, but the closet will work like a charm, and as they say in real estate it’s “cozy”.  If you don’t have a walk-in closet, use a room divider to create space for you versus your baby. Wal*Mart, IKEA, Amazon, and Target, to name a few, all sell room dividers

In terms of the changing table, there is no need to waste your money on an extra piece of furniture.  Find roughly 20’x 30’ of countertop space that you can screw/velcro a diaper mattress in to.  You can use a kitchen counter, or bathroom counter, or maybe your dresser.  Buy a diaper mattress from Amazon, screw it into a scrap of wood with a rubber rug mat or some 3M double sticky tape between the wood and the countertop to prevent the mattress from sliding.

And that’s it folks. Cop a squat on your lawn chair found on the street, crack open your PBR, and pat yourself on the back.  You have successfully averted the godforsaken experience of making an expensive trip to Babies R’ Us.  Your one-bedroom is officially a two-bedroom, and you didn’t even have to move to the ‘burbs.


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Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer has been a bit of a nomad having lived in seven different cities. Her life as a gypsy has settled down for the moment in San Francisco with her husband and two-year old son. Recently, she decided to throw caution to the wind, quit her job as an analyst to be a full-time mom while chasing her dreams (and the Pulitzer Prize). When she's not writing, she's aspiring to be a luddite (although blogging isn't helping), knitting the occasional hat, or running in the park with her son and his secondhand compost truck in tow.


  1. Lola
    September 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I love this! I had a one bedroom apt. ($425/mo) and worked at a locally owned punkrock shop (read: no benefits) when my son was born. I paid 6 months in full at my apt., set my son’s “room” up in the dining roomof my apt. (who really uses them anyway?) and took 3 months leave from my job. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

  2. Heidi Dittmar
    September 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I love this! Stay strong in your convictions.Your kids do not need as much gear and space as every tells you they do! I raised my two kids in a 2 bdrm. flat in the mission. My son’s room was the walk-in-closet, which he remembers fondly. It had glow-in-the dark stars everywhere, a mural and a futon that took up most of the floor. He and his friends used to drag all of the pillows in there and swing from the clothing rod onto the bed. My daughter had an actual room but often would sleep in a fort in the hallway or bunk with her bro. They had amazing fun in our 850 sq. foot abode, especially playing with the hose in our tiny shared yard, riding their bikes up and down the block, growing pumpkins in the community garden and hitting dolores park with the dog in tow every single day even when raining! (my son, now 19, almost started crying when he saw the playground torn up) ! All of their clothes and most of their toys came from swaps, goodwill or peek-a-bootique. The In-laws judged. many friends left for the white-picket fence lifestyle. I finally caved when they got to be middle school aged and rented a 1,000 sq. foot house in the excelsior, because we needed a little more separation from our room and the hoards of teenagers hanging out. But they still miss our little mission flat and so do I!

  3. Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks
    September 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I love hearing these stories! Keep ’em coming, they’re super sweet.

  4. ashleigh
    November 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    this is great info.
    i am expecting my first in May 2012 and our lease isn’t up til Jan 2013, so there will be three of us (and a dog and bunny) in our 1 bd apt (659sqft).
    we have a walk in closet we’ve considered using as a nursery/baby storage area.
    with enough planning i believe anyone can have a baby in a one bedroom apt.
    i love your suggestions for cribs. i’ve been looking at the arm’s reach mini cosleeper because of it’s size, but i love the convertible cribs you mention. so great. i may just go with one of those. THANK YOU!