Creating baby play spaces around the home is one of those tasks that parents tend to both enjoy and dread. For us, we didn’t want our home to be “too baby” but we also knew we needed areas in each part of the house that would entertain her and facilitate her learning. While we do have a game room that is the catch-all for extra toys and games, we have created kid-friendly play areas around the house too that are safe and don’t make our house look like a preschool exploded in our living room.
The first thing we did was decide we would not allow plastic toys in our home. This was for two reasons: first, I just don’t “believe” in plastic and choose to live more sustainably than to use a non-renewable resource; second, I only want items in my home that I find aesthetically pleasing. So big plastic walkers and exersaucers were not about to be a part of the decor because in my opinion, they’re not a tasteful addition to my home. It is absolutely not impossible to incorporate beautiful toys into your home without it looking cheap, overdone, or preschool-ish.
The first stop on our home tour is the living room. We have done two small areas in the living room that are both functional and not over-the-top. The first area is a living room “relax” corner. This is an important part of our home and in the baby spaces that we decided to create. It’s a place where my daughter feels safe and secure. If she is upset, she can go lay down, she can look at herself, and she can play with the sensory and latch board. They typically help her calm down and unwind. Our family does not have a nursery because we practice safe bedsharing. This means, we have the floor mattress in the living room as if it’s her own special couch. This served us very well when she was too little to get up and down off of the couch herself.
Also in our living room is a selection of books that are currently in circulation or that she is really loving at the moment. They sit inside of a bookshelf that is turned on its side. This not only means that we can put baskets on top of it, but it’s safe and doesn’t tip and covers electrical outlets. However, my favorite aspect is that it allows her to explore books on her own. We have done this since she was 5-6 months old and it has been a great way for her to gain a love and appreciation for books even as a baby and toddler. I love to see her search for her favorite book or even find a new one that I tucked in for her to find. Books are so full of endless possibilities that it was an important part of our planned environment. (Not to mention it typically takes 1,500 books read before becoming literate. Therefore, that early appreciation can pay dividends in the end).
The baskets on top of the shelf are divided into three separate types of toys. All of the toys are allowed to be in the living room at that time, but for easy pick up and clean up, the baskets allow us to just throw it in there at the end of the day.
To include her in kitchen festivities, we have a small PLAN toys wooden kitchen that sits in the dining room and is easily moved as needed. We also have one of our lower cabinets cleared out so that she can play in it, store her own goodies, and more. In creating baby play spaces, this one was one of the most important to me because I felt like she needed to stay occupied while I was cooking but also to feel like she was welcome in the kitchen.
Our game room, like I said was a baby play space that we created to have a go-to space for playing when all else failed. I know that we are fortunate to have this kind of space to offer her. At one point, however, these shelves were in our living room because we couldn’t put them in our converted garage. I absolutely love these shelves because the top shelf allows me to store things I do not want her to get into, but the bottom two are easily accessible.
We have a music boom box, a music station, a baby doll station, a book-only shelf, and more. This is just a fun area that we love using. We also have some blankets and rugs on the floor with different depictions like a map of the US.
Finally, our storage areas. No, they are not really baby play spaces, but they are an important part of planning it. In fact, I have a toy-rotation post where I discuss this. I created a library and resource area in a wasted hall space. My husband put up wire shelves and I filled the top section with all of my homeschool books and materials. The middle shelves are toys that we use occasionally but not enough to be out all of the time, and the bottom two have toys that she is allowed to explore and get into at any time.
Also, in the game room, we have an arts and crafts closet that included ribbon, upcycle materials, toilet roll tubes, and more. Next to it I have 4 large tubs that organize and separate toys and prepare Learning Theme Resources for the weeks to come.
Hope you enjoyed your mini “Creating Baby Spaces” Tour of our home — Tell me what you think in the comments!
Check out more play spaces and nursery ideas from great bloggers participating in the Ultimate Baby Blog Hop.
Ultimate Guide to Baby Play Spaces, Nurseries and More ~ Lemon Lime Adventures
Displaying Baby Photos in Your Home ~ BPhotoArt
The matress in the corner – La Cité des Vents
Sharing the master bedroom with Baby – The Colored Married Life
For more on our planned environment, check out an older post to see what’s changed over the past year!
And check out how we have organized our Montessori shelves in the past and how we continue to organize our toy storage!
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!