Hand-me-downs are a big deal around here. With three boys growing at the speed of light, we are constantly washing, sorting and sharing their clothing. Just as it is important to us to make the most of every piece of clothing we purchase for the kids, it is also important to be able to easily locate those hand-me-downs when the time comes. This process has gotten much easier with age; they are closer in size now so clothes tend to just transfer from one boy’s closet to the next. But remember the baby clothes days? All of those little pieces to keep track of… and the sizes? Oy.
One second they’re tiny newborns napping in your arms – they next they’re on their way to toddlerhood and beyond, leaving a trail of outgrown clothes (and destruction!) in their wake.
For me it seemed one day I was announcing my pregnancy and designing a gorgeous girly nursery, then the next day I had a 2 year old on my hands!
As my daughter slowly got too big for her newborn onesies, I started what my husband called ‘my box of sadness’. I’ll admit – a few tears were shed each time a lovingly handpicked item was discarded into the box never to be worn again by my little girl.
But by the end of her first year it was no longer a box of sadness – it was an overflowing mess!
That’s when I got serious and decided these clothes needed to be organized for future use. And just a weekend later, I’m besotted with our gorgeous baby clothes storage.
Keep reading to see how I did it, and grab your own free printable labels.
THE SORTING GAME
Like nearly every other organization project, sorting was my first step. But with baby clothes, it’s like EXTREME sorting (I half expected Ty Pennington to jump out at the end).
DO sort all clothes into keep, donate/sell, repair and trash piles (see my handy hints at the end on ideas on where to donate and sell unwanted clothes).
DO wash everything. Soak out any stains, and – if you can - dry all items in fresh air and sunlight to ensure their 100% dry and clean before being packed away. Sunlight is a great bacteria killer.
DON’T worry about ironing, as everything is going into storage, but fold everything neatly and compactly for easy storing.
DO repair anything that is broken/missing buttons. The last thing you want is to be hauling these clothes out for the next baby and discovering you have a pile of sewing repairs to do when you’re in your third trimester!
DON’T keep or donate broken products, unsafe products or products that have been recalled. It’s just not worth it – safety first.
DO split your items in size and seasons i.e. SIZE 0-3 MONTHS, SUMMER. This will make it easier for storing.
DO include your maternity clothes when sorting. It’s a great time to clean out your own cupboard and organize your own maternity gear for the next time you may need it.
Once you’re done sorting you should have your keep pile ready to go into storage.
one | As my IHeart gal Jen says, “Measure, measure, measure” your space where you want your baby clothes to go.
Handy tip, try not to store your baby clothes in damp areas such as basements. You’re looking for a cool, dry place to keep these baby threads. Ideal places are top shelves of cupboards or under beds; I chose the top shelf in my daughter’s wardrobe.
two | Once you’ve measured your space, choose your storage containers. I chose clear plastic tubs as they stack well, are reusable for future projects, and I can see what is in them at a glance.
As a general rule, space bags aren’t ideal for long term storage. While they’re perfect for the short term – long term use invites mold so they’re best avoided.
three | Next step is labeling your tubs! You can print out our free Baby Clothes Storage labels HERE. (There are also labels for Baby Toys and Maternity Clothes Storage.)
They’re ideally printed on adhesive labeling paper which you can then stick on the outside of the container, but if you want to print out on regular paper and tape or contact to the box, that’s fine too. I used Avery White Shipping 2 per sheet Labels (size 199.6 x 143.5mm) and printed two labels to each page.
four | On each label, mark the size and seasonal range of the contents. Then in the Inventory List portion below, itemize everything there. While this may seem like overkill, when you’re looking for something specific it will come in super handy.
five | Archival tissue paper is your friend when storing clothes (especially sentimental ones like this!). It won’t break down like regular tissue paper and will protect your favorite items. I didn’t wrap every piece, but wrapped vintage, much loved and treasured items to ensure they survived well.
six | For other items, like shoes or accessories, I boxed them up separately so they would be easy to find in the larger storage container, while also not damaging other clothes inside.
seven | Lastly, I added a few sprigs of fresh lavender wrapped in a sheet of tissue at the top of each box. It acts as a natural insect repellant and keeps clothes smelling fresh. (And much better than moth balls!)
HANDY PLACES TO SELL OR DONATE BABY AND MATERNITY ITEMS
For those items you don’t end up storing, here are some great alternative ideas:
- Loved Twice collect gently-used baby clothes, sort these precious garments into boy and girl wardrobes-in-a-box, and distribute them exclusively to disadvantaged babies through social workers in hospitals, shelters, and clinics.
- Schoola turns your baby clothes donations into funding for schools.
- Baby2Baby provides low-income children ages 0-12 years with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. They accept gently used items in everything from baby clothes, toys and maternity items.
- Terra Centre is a non-profitable organization helping pregnant and parenting teens develop the self-reliance and skills to be successful parents. They accept gently used baby clothes and equipment.
- The Uplift Project accepts donations of maternity bras (and regular bras) where they are given to women in disadvantaged communities.
- Don’t forget your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- SELL baby and maternity clothes on local facebook pages in your area. Sell new or excellent condition items on their own, and sell used multiple clothing items in bundles. It’s an excellent way to give the clothes new life!
- If you’d like to use your unwanted clothes to do good, sometimes it’s better to sell them on eBay/Craiglist/Facebook then donate the proceeds to your favorite women’s or children’s charity. This way the charity themselves can get what they really need and don’t have to sort through physical donations.
- Try to check on your stored items every 6 months – just to make sure they’re staying in good condition in their current storage.
- If the time comes to say goodbye to your baby clothes and you can’t bear to part with them – you’re not alone! Grab your favorite items and make them into a keepsake baby clothes quilt. This way you get to keep all your baby clothes in a sentimental heirloom piece you can pass down to your kids.
- Don’t forget reverse storage! If you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of hand me downs and gifts for your child to grow into, use the same process as above for storing clothes. Download the printable labels and follow the storage steps above, so you can see at a quick glance the clothes you have available as your little one grows into them.
Hi! I’m Serena - self confessed neat freak, animal lover and baker of cookies. I’m the editor behind Pretty Fluffy - an online home for dog owners where dedicated animal lovers can find stylish products, modern advice, health tips, recipes, DIYs and inspiration for living well with their pets. I’m the author of the best-selling recipe book 52 Weeks of Treats, and have contributed to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Modern Dog, and many other publications - but my favourite will always be IHeart Organizing! If you like cute animals, pretty stuff and the overuse of dog emoji you can follow along with me on Pinterest and Instagram.
from IHeart Organizing http://www.iheartorganizing.com/2016/09/uheart-organizing-sweet-simple-baby.html