How to Part with Outgrown Baby Clothes
Advice for the sentimental
Give It Away
Sometimes engaging in a commercial transaction just to clean out your kid’s closet is a little overwhelming. Even if you try, the market may not snap up all you have to offer. You can always, however, feel great about giving your serviceable children’s clothing away.
There are nationwide charities with convenient drop-off centers, such as Goodwill Industries or St. Vincent DePaul. Some organizations will pick things up at your house, as do Big Brothers and Big Sisters or Disabled Americans Veterans in many areas.
If you live in a medium to large metropolitan area, there are sure to be shelters and family assistance organizations, which help people made homeless by fires, domestic abuse, or other calamity. Children’s clothes (and that last box of diapers unused since successful potty training) are welcome there. A little digging in local phone or online directories should point the way, or ask at a religious or community center. For all of these, your donation is tax deductible.
Also check out Freecycle, which is an international network of neighborhood or regional groups where people post items and services to give away (and get) for free. Great way to recycle with the least environmental impact and most personal impact!
It just may be that after reading all this, you’re still not prepared to give up all of those sweet snugglies. (My super-soft white jammies with the yellow ducks? Can’t do it.) But you can do more than stuff them in the back of a drawer.
If you are crafty, and it doesn’t break your heart to cut into these items, you can make a quilt or pillow cover from a patchwork of shirts or bodysuits. You can use any clothes really, if the cloth is of about the same weight and stretchiness. Another craft is to use a bodysuit, romper, or—ideally—blanket or bunting to create a pillow. Simply shape, stuff, and sew. If there’s a t-shirt, handmade sweater, or blanket with a pattern or image that you just love, it may be suitable for framing. More three-dimensional objects like booties or a hat can be mounted in a shadowbox. Most frame stores will do this for you, or carry the supplies you need.
Finally, you may want to save your very favorite articles of Baby’s wardrobe in hopes you can dress a grandchild in them one day. If you go this route, do it with care for ultimate satisfaction. Professional cleaners usually offer a preservation and storage service if you want to outsource the whole process. Otherwise, follow as many of these tips as you can:
- Get the clothes super clean, and run them through an extra rinse cycle. Don’t use starch or sizing. Treat stains even if you can barely see them. Stains from formula and breast milk turn yellow over time.
- Use a large Sterilite-style (cast polypropylene) container, and line it with acid-free and lignin-free tissue paper.
- Wash your hands and don’t use lotion before you handle the clothes from laundry to storage.
- Use a natural insect repellent, such as cedar or lavender, inside the box but don’t let it touch the clothing—separate it with the acid-free tissue.
- Store the box in a dark, dry spot where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate wildly. (Not the attic or basement.)
- Store away from heaters, air conditioners, or pipes.
- Check on your stored items once a year to ensure no insect or mildew damage is starting. If you’re fanatical, refold the items to reduce creases and fiber breakdown.
This will go a long way toward keeping your baby things nearly new until the next generation arrives. For detailed instructions on preserving heirloom baby clothes, check out the advice at Preservation Station, a professional conservator and consulting service.
There are times in your baby’s life you just can’t wait till she grows up. But with each batch of outgrown clothes, you realize it’s happening all too fast! Enjoy all you can and know the big sentiments are still there even when you part with the little clothes.
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