Babies grow up quickly. They outgrow their belongings sometimes before they get a chance to try them on much less get extended use out of them. Especially as we currently live in a time of baby consumerism on steroids, we often amass a lot of stuff that babies will use just a small amount of time. Some new parents are fighting back against the culture of consumption when it comes to babies. Even still, babies do use their fair share of stuff. So what to do with it all once outgrown?
Know your needs.
Consider your budget. If you are on a very strict budget, perhaps it is better to keep. On the other hand, you could sell off a few pricey items to put toward something baby needs at an older age.
Consider your space. Do you have space to store all that baby stuff, much of it best kept in climate controlled areas? Closet space is often coveted. Last, will it store well? A nursing pillow may be a need but if stored in your dingy basement consider if you can get it clean.
Do you plan to have more children soon? You’ll take up space for storage for all that time until your next babe reaches the age of use. If you hope to have your next child in one year, keeping an infant car seat could be realistic. If that baby isn’t supposed to arrive for five more years, your car seat would already be expired.
Check your emotions at the door. It’s fine to have mixed feelings about parting with your child’s things, for whatever reason. Just try to become aware of those emotions as this may make sifting through everything more manageable. Some things may also lose value over time if you think to yourself “I’ll just sell it if I don’t end up needing it.” Even name-brand clothing may not be in style when you finally let go of it in 5 years after deciding you don’t want baby #4 after all.
Sift. Consider did you use the item enough to make it worth keeping? At the same time don’t assume your next babe will love or dislike, for example, the swing as much as your previous babe. Maybe you don’t want to get rid of everything so much as pare down. Perhaps you need three bibs but I highly doubt you need 25. Get rid of broken items unless you intend to mend—and mend now as I doubt your free time will increase as you add another child to the mix down the road. A flat nursing pillow, elastic-shot diapers, or mildewed bath toys will be thrown out once you pull them out again one day, so just throw them out now and save yourself the space. In addition, sanitize now. You can also always sanitize later too, but take the time to wipe down or wash all that you store.
Sift again. Do you love it? Keep it! We have a handful of items that I’ve kept for all three children to wear as they just bring too many warm fuzzies to my heart. Consider the specifics—you may find gender, holiday, or season specific items to not be worth holding onto. The bulky 12-month jacket may take up more space than the likelihood that your next babe will be that size in the winter. This goes the same with all those baby’s first outfits. “Dad’s #1 Little Man” shirts have a 50/50 shot of being worn again versus more gender-neutral clothing.
Weigh the cost. Some items are large and less expensive. For example, our jumparoo was $40 but it took up so much space. Pulled apart and stored it continued to cause me headaches (or foot aches) every time I dug through the closet for something. After the metal tube pieces fell on my feet one too many times I finally got the clunky thing out of my closet and saved my sanity for the two years until our last babe is nearing a time when she could use one. Worth every penny.
Give, Consign, Sell, or Repurpose
What to do with the items? Give to another family in need either through word of mouth, local buy-sell-trade groups, or donation. Sometimes knowing it’s going to someone who needs it can help you let go of things you no longer need. You can consign items that you can then cash out or invest in other items at the same store. Sell your higher priced items yourself or bag together less expensive, similar things (3-6 month clothes or first-year toys). People will sometimes just buy by the bag, giving you a little green in your pocket while at the same time giving another family a great deal.
Repurpose things. This is especially great for those things you just can’t let go of. Make a blanket or lovey from those cute outfits you want to cherish forever. And no matter what, in this game of stow or give away, remember that it’s your baby—not your stuff—that matters.
Lynette is a mom of three children from 10 months to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.