Does your little angel really need that new top? Probably not, but like so many other parents, you buy it anyway. It was just way too cute not to buy! But your little one is going to outgrow it quickly. Can you keep it after they get too big for it? Should you even be keeping old baby clothes?
Whether or not you should keep clothes your baby has outgrown will depend heavily on your specific situation. The primary considerations when making the decision are personal (do you plan on having more children in the future), sentimental (very special clothes may be worth keeping even if they’re never worn again), and practical (storage space).
Once you decide to keep your baby’s clothes, you need to figure out what to do with them! Keep reading below to find some valuable tips on storage, possible uses, and more for those old baby clothes.
Should you keep old baby clothes?
Especially with your first (or last) child, every piece of clothing can feel incredibly special. When your little one outgrows a shirt he looks particularly cute in (and isn’t that all of them?), you may be tempted to hold on to it.
If there is a realistic chance you will use the clothes again, especially if they are particularly high quality or especially cute, you may want to hang onto them. There’s no reason to hoard clothes that could be donated, gifted, or otherwise repurposed if it would be easier to replace them than to store them.
Let’s dive deep into the reasons you should or shouldn’t keep your baby’s old clothes.
Reasons to keep old baby clothes
Some parents may find themselves storing away each size and season of their baby’s clothes without really thinking through why – at this point, they’re just used to having baby clothes around!
Here are some good reasons to keep your baby’s old clothes:
- You may need them again – If you’re planning on having more children, planning for hand-me-downs is a good idea. It’ll save you money in the long run, plus you’ll be able to get great pictures of your little ones in the same outfit through the years.
- For the extended family – If you loved seeing your little one in an outfit, pass it on to a niece or nephew. It can be stress relieving for some first-time parents in your family to get those extra clothes. Plus, it shows them you’re thinking about them and will be there to help!
- Keepsakes – Those of us who are a little older can remember getting a box of pictures down from the closet and discovering a wealth of forgotten memories. The picture box is sadly going the way of the wall-mounted phone. But saving your baby’s old clothes can give you this same feeling. Years later, you can pull down a box of your now-grown baby’s clothes and sort through them with your adult kids and their partners.
- For the grandbabies – My kids loved seeing their daddy’s old baby clothes on a little baby doll. Their grandma had saved and put a couple of my old outfits on some little dolls just to show my kids. I believe she had this planned since I was their age! You could do that, or save your kids the embarrassment later and just let the grandbabies have the clothes.
- You want to – This is the best reason to keep your baby’s old clothes! Your babies will grow up fast, and as much as you may want to slow down time, you can’t. And while every stage of their development will become your new favorite, nothing will replace that little bit of time when they were so small and helpless in your arms. Saving your baby’s clothes can be a special way to hold onto memories you never want to let go of.
Reasons not to keep old baby clothes
While it may seem like a great idea to keep piles of clothes just in case you have a baby in the future, there are some solid reasons to not worry about saving everything.
Here are some good reasons to let your baby’s old clothes go:
- Current styles – Styles change fast! Today’s popular styles could be considered stale and boring in a short amount of time. So if you’re a fashion-forward type of parent, you may want to ditch those old clothes and upgrade your toddler’s style to what the cool kids in daycare are wearing!
- Toddlers’ unique styles – You may not care if your little one is rockin’ the latest “it” trend, but your older toddler might! I have one child that we could send out in a potato sack, and they wouldn’t care at all. While our other child, well…everything has to be perfect and match what the other kids on the playground have on!
- Be a blessing – You have been blessed to have your little one and plenty of clothes for them. Everyone isn’t that lucky, sadly. Instead of storing them, you could donate them to shelters or give them away to others that you know in need. You could sell them to a consignment shop to make a little extra money for yourself while providing supply for others to get on the cheap!
- Running out of room – Parents tend to accumulate a lot of stuff! Between a well-meaning family and our lack of willpower to walk away from a cute outfit in the store, storage can quickly become a problem. You may find that you simply have too much stuff and not enough room to save anything for later.
Which baby clothes are worth keeping?
Whether you’re saving your baby’s clothes for future use or keeping them for memories, you should be clear about your motive and make some choices.
Baby clothes that you are keeping for sentimental reasons should be in good condition and have a specific memory attached.
Consider this: your little guy’s first serious girlfriend asks what he was like when he was little, and you grab your memory box and pull out a tiny, generic white onesie. It’s cute, sure, but wouldn’t you rather have saved the outfit he came home in, or the jacket he wore to his first baseball game (and the picture of him in it!)?
Baby clothes that you’re saving for future children have a little more leeway, but you want to try and keep clothes that are in good condition, are useful, and aren’t likely to be dated in a year or two.
Some good clothes to store include:
- Boy’s & Girl’s T-Shirts
Clothing that you choose not to keep can be great donations or hand-me-downs to friend’s babies. That being said, it’s not the best idea to pass down or save your baby’s burp cloths or cloth diapers. Some items are best left in the past!
How many baby clothes should you keep?
If you’re saving your baby’s old clothes to pass on to friends or family, you’re going to want to keep more than if you were just keeping them for the memories.
If you’re going to pass the clothes on later, keeping five or six of each different clothing type feels about right: onesies, tops, pants, gowns, and so on. As you give clothes away from each stage of your baby’s growth, you can start saving five or six pieces of clothing from their new sizes. This frees up room for you and helps out others as their babies grow.
You probably won’t keep as many clothes if you’re saving them for keepsakes. A pair of socks and shoes with a handful of tops will usually be enough to bring memories and possibly tears, flooding back years later.
How long do baby clothes last?
If you have been a parent for any amount of time, you know babies grow quickly!
Saving more than five or six sets of clothes for friends and family may not really benefit them a whole lot. Babies who start out in the Newborn size will typically outgrow their clothes in as little as three to five weeks. Since they grow so fast, there is a good chance babies won’t even wear a lot of the clothes they are given.
Baby clothes don’t have to be given away quickly, though. If stored and preserved correctly, your baby’s old clothes can last for years!
What else can you do with old baby clothes?
Storing away old baby clothes or passing them on to others aren’t the only things you can with your baby’s clothes after they outgrow them.
Let’s take a look at some fun, unique ideas for your baby’s clothes:
- Repurpose them – Old baby clothes – especially cloth diapers, inserts, or worn-out bodysuits – can be turned into rags and dust cloths.
- Art – You can turn your baby’s clothes into a focal point of any room. You could take your favorite outfit and frame it. Or use it as a backdrop in a picture for another item. Either way, you will have a piece of your baby’s past hanging on your wall to remind yourself how much you love your teen when they’re breaking curfew!
- Quilt – This is a special one. You can take your child or children’s outgrown clothes and sew them into a quilt. A quilt creates a beautiful and memorable piece that your kids and grandchildren should cherish as they get older. It’s the ultimate way to show you cared enough to save the pieces and love them enough to create something lasting for them.
- Ornaments – You can take an ordinary Christmas ball ornament and sew pieces of your baby’s old clothes around it. Or shape it into a little figure, fill it with cotton, and hang it on your Christmas tree. Either way, it allows you to make your baby’s clothes a part of a family tradition for years to come!
How to store old baby clothes
Now that you know what and how much of your baby’s clothing you want to save, it’s time to actually store them.
Take a look below at a step-by-step guide to protecting your favorite outfits for years to come:
- Gather your supplies. You’re going to want to buy some archival tissue paper, cast polypropylene plastic boxes, or archival storage boxes. These prevent acids that are found in regular storage boxes from yellowing or breaking down the clothes.
- Before you get started packing, wash and dry your hands thoroughly. This will remove any lotions or other chemicals you may have on your hands.
- Fill any hats or socks up with the archival tissue paper.
- Wrap each piece of clothing in tissue paper. As you fold the clothing up, add a layer of tissue paper between each fold.
- Neatly place the wrapped clothing in the storage box of your choice.
- Enjoy lasting memories and keepsakes for years to come!
What is the best way to store baby clothes long-term?
As you’re storing your baby’s old clothes, there are a couple of crucial things to keep in mind. Unfortunately, skipping one of these tips could leave you with damaged or destroyed clothing!
- Remove any metal buttons or buckles on your baby’s clothes before you store them. If you don’t, the metal can rust and leave the clothes stained or completely destroyed!
- To keep hungry bugs from eating up your baby’s stored clothes, you can use mothballs or a bit of lavender. Obviously, the lavender will smell better!
- Store the boxes in a cool, dry place! Attics and basements usually aren’t the best places to store clothing long-term.
- Check on the stored clothing about once a year. If you stay diligent in this, you can head off any potential damage or stains that may be forming.