The big stuff
[tip:] If you have a closet in your living room or nearby that you can clear out, it makes a great place to stash big toys that aren’t in use. (Try the coat closet—if you’re able to use a coat tree or hang jackets elsewhere in the house, it makes a nice hideaway for baby gear.)
[tip:] When purchasing large items such as swings, look for products that fold up when not in use. If you’re in a small apartment or just don’t have much extra room, consider buying travel gear for full-time use. It usually takes up much less space.
[tip:] Decide what you really need. If your baby isn’t quite ready to stand in that Exersaucer just yet, leave it in his room until he’s ready for it. If he isn’t showing much of an interest in the swing, stow it away—you can pull it out later and try again, but for now, there’s no point leaving an unused dust collector in the middle of your living space.
[tip:] If blending your baby’s toys into your living space is a big concern, then worry not!
[tip:] Look for decor-friendly gear. When buying or registering for gear, particularly bouncy seats, check out some of the modern options that aren’t as much of an eyesore as some of the older models.
[tip:] Look for a coffee table that has baskets underneath for storage, or create your own. You can toss the toys in and push them out of sight.
[tip:] It isn’t so bad to have a toy box in your living room, particularly if you can find one that doesn’t look too toy-ish—like a pretty trunk or large wicker basket. Keep it out of sight by stashing it against a wall or in a corner.
[tip:] Baskets can also make pretty toy catchers. Place a few in your living room under end tables or in other spots, and keep them cleaned out so they don’t reach the point of overflow.
[tip:] You don’t need all the tot’s toys out at once. Bring four or five toys out of your baby’s bedroom every day and put them back after he’s in bed for the night. The next morning, pick five more. Babies don’t need that many choices, and it will make old toys seem new again when they’re re-introduced after spending a week in the toy chest.
Keeping it clean
The toys: Don’t forget to disinfect your toys when you’re cleaning house—they’re an often-missed source of germs. Wipe them down with an antibacterial wipe (or even a baby wipe) once a week.
The floor: Keep your floors swept or vacuumed to limit your baby’s exposure to dirt and dust, since the floor is the place to be for people under 1 year of age.
The furniture: Everything you own is now fair game to sticky hands and spit-up, so think about investing in a washable sofa cover, and if you’re in the market for some new furniture, buy fabrics that are easy to clean.