How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

Freya’s nursery is in a second bedroom in our very small (750 square feet) house. But luckily, babies don’t need a lot in the beginning. We tried a few different nursery layouts before finally settling on one that has served us very well over the past year. Read on to learn more details. Note: this post contains some affiliate links for products we’ve used and loved, thank you for supporting Our Natural Heritage!

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

Diaper Changing Station

Our changing area setup has been so helpful. We use the HEMNES dresser from IKEA as our changing table which works great! I bought lots of dividers for each of the three drawers, mostly from the closet organization section of IKEA but also larger a piece from The Container Store that I use for all of Freya’s onsies. On top of the dresser we have a changing pad secured with Command removable Velcro strips. I adore that seahorse printed changing pad cover, but for the first several months we threw washable puppy training pads on top so we didn’t have to take it on and off to wash it every day.

Also on top of the dresser is a custom made diaper organizer I ordered from Etsy which holds prepped cloth diapers and a wipe warmer that we use for cloth wipes (it also has a nice nightlight for middle of the night changes). If you’re curious, there are lots more details on our cloth diaper routine below.  Within arms reach is a wet bag that we use as a laundry bag, and an Ubbi diaper pail with a washable liner that we use for dirty cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I’ve found this setup very handy, even with a baby who’s trying to roll around in her own poop on the changing table.

The first dresser drawer has the rest of our diapering needs including disposable diapers and wipes (we just throw those out in the kitchen garbage), diaper creams, clean wet bags, clean cloth wipes, and more clean cloth diapers.

The second drawer holds most of Freya’s clothes (except for some items such as dresses, coats, and sweaters that are hung in a small closet on the other side of the room) and accessories such as socks and hats.

The third drawer contains her blankets, burp rags, bibs, and bath towels. I’ve found that if I switch out her clothes every three months or so I can fit everything that is the appropriate size in both the dresser and the closet. Extra clothes that she has yet to grow into are stored in a plastic container that slides under her crib.

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

On the opposite side of the room is her reading nook, which I adore. We bought the bookshelves/frame ledges from Target, though they sell similar ones in white at IKEA. I like the shelves but if I were starting from scratch, I’d recommend the book shelves that have the bar across the front because the books do tumble off it pretty easily. On her nightstand we have a reading light and a really great sound machine and nightlight that projects stars on the ceiling. The tiny closet is just to the right of the reading nook. In the closet, we have a great storage unit from IKEA (ALGOT unit with two large wire baskets) that hold extra disposable diapers and wipes in one drawer and random stuff in the other such as puffy winter coats and stroller bunting, etc. On top of the ALGOT we have a bin of extra books that we switch out from time to time.

When you are sitting in the glider, the door to the room is on your left and you are facing the crib, with the dresser to your right. Even though our options were limited, it still took a lot of furniture shuffling to find the best layout. But when Jeff moved the dresser to the wall opposite the entrance, instead of right inside the door,  it opened things up so much. Maybe it’s just basic feng shui principle, but if you are trying to figure out where to put your nursery furniture, I’d recommend keeping the entrance area as open and clear as possible, it makes for a much nicer flow, especially because you are in and out of this room so much.

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

How to set up a practical small space nursery layout and cloth diaper routine

Our Cloth Diaper and Wipe Routine

Before I begin, I need to make a confession. We do not use cloth diapers exclusively. In fact we have gone several weeks without even attempting to use a single cloth diaper because Freya kept getting stomach bugs. I am trying to use them more often now that I have finally figured out a good way to handle the solids, but we don’t use them when she is at daycare or at her grandparents house for the day.

I really geeked out researching cloth diapers when I pregnant. They seemed like an adorable way to help save money and the planet. I know it’s crazy but trust me when I say I am not alone. There are a ton of pages devoted to every detail you could ever want to know (and not know) about cloth diapering. If you’re a newbie, I’d recommend starting with Fluff Love University and Kelly’s Closet. Almost one year in, I can say that I don’t LOVE cloth diapering like so many others online claim to, but I am committed to continuing it, and I admit it’s pretty satisfying to reach for a cloth diaper knowing it was “free” and will be reused when it’s done. Plus, they are pretty adorable. If we are lucky enough to be able to have a second baby, I plan to use them again.

The Brand We Chose
After considering this decision for months, and watching endless review on Youtube, I decided to go with Thirsties Pocket Diapers (with both types of closures). I chose this brand because I really liked how they looked, they got great reviews, seemed very sturdy and are made in the USA. I was not at all swayed by their adorable prints (kidding, I’m obsessed). Pocket diapers consist of a cover (the part that looks like a diaper) and an absorbent pad that you insert into a “pocket” in the middle of the liner. I liked the idea that once these diapers were prepped, you put them on a like a regular diaper and thought that would make them easier for us and any other caretakers to use. With the Thirsties brand the absorbant liner agitates out in the wash on it’s own which is so helpful! These diapers adjust to different sizes and can be used from when a baby is just a few months old until it’s time for potty training.

Almost every website recommends buying a few different types of cloth diapers and trying them out in the beginning, but I wanted to use one type to keep things streamlined and have it all set up before she got here. I am happy with my choice to use only Thirsties but admit it wouldn’t have been so bad trying a few different styles out in the beginning before investing.

We started using cloth diapers when Freya was about two months old and could fit into them. They do make cloth diapers for newborns, but I didn’t want to buy two different sizes of diapers and thought it would be too much too handle in the beginning on top of all the craziness of bringing a newborn home.

How We Wash Them
There seem to be two phases of cloth diaper use. The first is the newborn phase, before your baby is eating solid foods. I consider this the honeymoon period of cloth diapering because their poop (whether the baby is breast or formula fed) is water soluble – so you just throw the whole soiled diaper into the washing machine. 

When the baby starts eating solids, cloth diapering seems to require a renewed commitment. Once we hit that stage, I invested in a too expensive diaper sprayer that attaches to our toilet because I wanted to continue using the diapers but needed it to be as easy as possible. I have no idea why people rave about them, but I could not get these to work without sh*t flying everywhere, no matter how many weird spray-reducing accessories I tried. I ended up buying a roll of liners and have not turned back. The liners are thin, soft, flushable poop catchers and they saved my cloth diapering relationship. When she has soiled diaper I just carry it into the bathroom, turn the diaper over the toilet and the liner and solids get flushed away. If it’s a wet diaper I throw it (liner included) and any cloth wipes into the diaper pail.

Right before it’s time to wash the diapers, I will put on dishwashing gloves and sort through the diapers before I throw them into washing machine. I close the velcro tabs so they are more protected in the wash, and put any remaining bamboo liners in the toilet to be flushed. I use the simple wash routine for Seventh Generation detergent in high efficiency front loading washer (Lavender Eucalyptus scent) from Fluff University’s website and haven’t had an issue yet. You are supposed to wash cloth diapers every 2-3 days. I usually wash them every three days and they can get pretty stinky so sometimes I use Grovia Mighty Bubbles after the regular wash to get them extra clean smelling. After the diapers are washed I will line dry the covers and put the inserts in the dryer.

Cloth Wipes
If my relationship with cloth diapering is mixed, my relationship with cloth wipes most certainly is not. I freaking love them. I had no plans to buy a wipe warmer until one of my most sustainably-minded friends showed me her cloth diaper setup. I started researching them and realized it’s a great place to store cloth wipes and there are even solutions you can make or buy that contain essential oils to keep them from getting musty. 

The first time I made a batch of cloth wipes with the Baby Bits wipe solution, I used half of them on my own face – it was like a spa treatment! I bought three packs of Grovia cloth wipes (I later bought one additional pack) and fold them using this technique so they dispense like normal wipes. I can fit about 14 cloth wipes into the Munchkin wipe warmer at a time then pour the wipe solution on top. Since these cloth wipes are pretty thick, I do have to replace the stack about every two days, but it’s quick and I like using them so much that it doesn’t bother me. These Grovia cloth wipes are partly made of polyester which normally I am not a fan of, but I read in the reviews that it prevents them from staining and ours still look new. We also really like the Grovia Magic Stick (heh heh 50 Cent reference anyone?) and are still using the same one we were gifted before Freya was born.

So there you have it, way more than you probably ever wanted to know about how we take care of our little darling’s bum. Let me know if you have any burning nursery design or cloth diaper questions!