How to Simplify Children’s Clothes Storage

Sorting and putting away my kids’ outgrown clothes is probably my least-favorite organizing task. It’s more complicated than one might think. A size 2T on the label doesn’t necessarily mean that it fits a two year old or that it’s even similar to a 2T in a different brand.

You try clothes on a wriggling toddler with a short attention span and add a rush of sentimental feelings, and it’s a one-two knockout punch.

I have two kids, and I feel like I’m smarter this second time around.

My daughter was the firstborn, and we were given lots of clothes for her. I saved most of them because it seemed like they hadn’t been worn enough. Baby clothes become outgrown so fast, and maybe we will have another girl, or else there will be other babies to give them to.

I can type those words quickly, but really there’s a long pause while I sit here and wonder if there will be another baby.

And that’s part of why this takes me so long.

Anyway, it wasn’t until my son was born that I noticed how much less space the boys’ clothes section is given in the square footage of a Gymboree or Baby Gap compared to the girls’ section. Marketing efforts begin early, apparently. I realized how much of the shopping is more for the parents and grandparents. Having variety in clothes seems like an idea more suited for grown ups. Kids’ don’t need that much variety; they already get an entirely new and different wardrobe every six months!

I decided to buy fewer clothes for both of my kids, realizing that they normally want to wear their favorites and there would be less to store later, and it worked.

I plan to have about a week’s worth of clothes for each kid in the current size and season. (Somehow my daughter ends up with more.) If it’s a few weeks before birthdays or Christmas, I wait until after to buy more clothes since they receive some as gifts. When my son went through a baby phase at three months when he was spitting up all the time, I bought extra outfits for him to get us through the multiple outfit changes each day.

A week’s worth of clothes is typically enough for a little kid, though, and when a little boy has worn the same seven shirts for six months, by the time the season changes you’ve gotten a lot of mileage from them.

It’s also easier to put clean laundry away when the clothes that don’t fit are out of the way. I can always tell when it’s time to sort through the clothes because putting away the laundry becomes more difficult. My daughter’s clothes go into a dresser. My son’s clothes go in the closet in a hanging organizer.

But I think he has some clothes in the laundry right now because as I’m looking at this picture, I’m pretty sure he has more clothes than this. All of this was a long way of saying Suggestion #1: Buy fewer clothes for your kids so you’ll have less to organize and store later.

Suggestion #2 is to limit the storage space with boxes. Since baby clothes are small, you can fit a lot into a box (and you know I’m going to shove as many 3-6 month clothes into those storage containers as I can. Those are the cutest.) Having the clothes limited and divided by size is easier than having it all in one larger box because it doesn’t take much to become all disorganized. Bulky coats are stored separately. The storage boxes are stacked and stored in the closet.

Be sure the clothes are clean before you store them, and keep the boxes in a clean, dry area, especially if you are repurposing cardboard boxes.

Suggestion #3: Be particular about what you buy, accept, and keep. My husband and I have shopping guidelines about what types of clothes we buy for the kids, and the best rule is that the clothes have to look like kids’ clothes, not miniature versions of grown-up clothes.

I also pay attention to color and try to pick the colors that look best on them. My daughter, for instance, looks best in bright colors, and light pastels are too faint. When all of her clothes are in a bright color palette, she can mix and match everything. I look for these colors when someone offers us hand-me-down clothes because I can be pretty sure we won’t use the clothes in a color they don’t favor.

Keep only the clothes that are still in great condition. Nothing with permanent stains. If it doesn’t look good when it goes into the storage box, it will only look worse when you take it out later. Don’t keep more than will fit in the box, just the best stuff and your favorites.

You don’t have to keep any clothes just because they were given to you for free. Only keep the stuff that will make you smile when you open the box again, and the rest or any excess can be given away.

Because this is not an easy job for me, I just focused on the clothes for one kid. The other child will get her turn later, before school starts.

How do you store your children’s clothes, and what do you think is the hardest part?

clear the clutter

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. As I’ve mentioned before, the hardest part for me is that we were given PILES of clothes – as a loan. For each size we were given 1-2 trashbags jammed full.

    My very generous friend is still trying debating a 3rd baby. They gave us the clothes on the condition that we give ‘em back if they get pregnant. In the meantime, I’m running out of storage space. :P

    But, I was a little worried, because Eleanor is extremely tall for her age, and caught up to their daughter in size. I was flummoxed about having to actually BUY clothes, till luckily another friend just gave me a bunch of 3T stuff. So I continue with my “problem” – but since it’s not costing me anything I can’t complain too much!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Summer Reading Club: July Link-Up

    • I was just sorting through my girls’ clothes this week, trying t odecide what to do. I settled on the storage boxes. I only kept the items I LOVE and are unisex (as we are hoping for one more = 2).
      Rachel, you said that you pick the colours that suit best. I’ve done something similiar. For each season I have picked two colours e.g pink and grey (gray) for all her wardrobe. I find that this helps with limiting the number of clothes that I need and is much easier to mix and match. Another thing I have begun to do is purchase onesies for days at home and then only having 2-3 nice/fun outfits for going out. It’s wonderfully easy to do the washing now and dressing her up is much more fun.
      My girl is only 6 months, so I’m hoping this is going to work until she is about 2, then I’ll just drop the onesies and still continue with the rest of my system.

    • As soon as your child grows out of a size you can wash, pack and return it to your friend in case she’d like to lend them out again before she decides. Also, as Rachel said, sort through it and pick out only the stuff you love and return the rest. It’s really nice of her but if you can’t use it it’s not doing anyone any good in your storage. =D

      • Hm, this is true. I never thought about returning part of it!
        Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Book Review: Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson

        • I don’t think I’d ever accept children’s clothing on loan. I couldn’t handle the stress of remembering which outfits were on loan and keeping track of the individual pieces of outfits, trying to make sure nothing was lost…yikes. And then there is the stain factor. Thanks but no thanks. ;)
          Heidi @Adventures of a Thrifty Mom´s last post…Summer Fun

          • Pomegranate says:

            I just lay loaner clothing on the carpet and take a few digital pictures. Whenever I get around to uploading the camera, all the pictures of clothes get put in a separate file. After my son goes through a growth spurt I’ll pull up the pics – makes it easy to figure out what is mine and what needs to go back to my friend.

          • My mother-in-law wanted to give us baby clothes on loan, in hopes that she could resell them later after we had used them. It totally stressed me out- putting her initials on things, trying to pull those out separately when it was time to store our clothes- so I just stopped doing it. We put the brakes on any new clothes coming in for the kids (we have clothes coming out our ears!) and returned most or all of what she had given us. Yeah- it felt like more of a burden than a help, for sure.
            Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…All New Things

          • I agree with Heidi. I would never accept clothes on loan.

    • When we have accepted things on loan or to keep and those things have become more of a burden than a blessing, we give them back or give them away. I would rather buy a few outfits for my children in their current sizes than have dozens of outfits in each size that I have to store and return. I’m thinking back to Rachel’s post that said “even free stuff has a price” and this really resonated with me. Think of the storage space, management of the stuff, keeping track of it and returning it if they need it back, etc.
      Rachel´s last post…A Month of Doing More with Less – Week 2

    • I never accept clothes on loan… to stressful to remember what needs to be returned and what happens if they totally ruin an outfit. However, Rachel, this is exactly how I sort my clothes. We have only one weeks worth of clothes max, so it is pretty easy. I have one box per year so it makes the job fairly simple!
      Johanna @ My Home Tableau´s last post…My Children Are Individuals

  2. “Only keep the stuff that will make you smile when you open the box again.”

    So true! I need to keep this in mind as I pack away outgrown clothes. Your photo also reminded me that I need to purchase boxes. My daughters cloths are currently stored in grocery sacks. :)
    Jenni Mullinix´s last post…5 Foods You Can Cross Off Your Grocery List Forever

    • I kept some of the clothes in bags too while I was deciding if buying the boxes was worth it, but for me stackable boxes is key. (And since they were in a noticeable place in our last apartment, I wanted them to look nice too, so there was some vanity involved.)

  3. Oops. For the record, I realize that “trying debating” is not a real sentence construction!

    P.S. I like the dinosaur perched on the clothing boxes. :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Summer Reading Club: July Link-Up

  4. I do the same as you for storing kids’ clothes. I also limit myself to one box per size (a cardboard banker-style box). I think that helps a lot, because when you have girl clothes and boy clothes, those boxes really add up.

    I think the hardest part is sorting through them to box them up! I have lots of this to do right now.

    I agree about less clothes, too. That’s something I have learned in the last few years.
    Elizabeth@ReadySetSimplify´s last post…Cleaning and Decluttering Progress in the Kitchen

  5. I also use the same box idea you do. We have two boys 13 months apart. It’s amazing how many clothes we’ve been given! Last winter I had to buy a few shirts, some shorts were needed this summer for my oldest, but we’ve been so blessed!

    Anyway, one caution is using paper grocery bags. I did this with my first (before deciding to buy boxes) and they discolored many of the light/white items we had in there (especially cotton onesies). Most of them did wash out fine, but it was frustrating when I first discovered the problem.

    I am reconsidering my method though. I currently have about 15 or more boxes with clothing that is mostly outgrown. Clothing storage takes up the majority of my kids closet space and I’m just not sure I want to hang on to this many items long term. The though of adding to it makes me a little queasy.

    I also agree about limiting the number of clothes. We do keep extra shirts on hand for my youngest (15 month) since he is a SUPER messy eater…even with a bib. But you’re so right that they want to wear their favorite shirts over and over.

    Curious…do you store pj’s? My kids are in a phase where they really don’t like wearing them, but they seem to wear out much more quickly than their other clothes (guessing it’s the poly in them).

  6. I was absolutely delighted when kid#2 was the same gender as kid#1. All those clothes I’d kept? Awesome. Except that Kid#2 is a totally different size and shape to his brother – slightly shorter and slightly chunkier, which means I always seem to have inappropriate for the season sized clothes or Kid#1 has skipped the size needed by Kid#2.

    Fortunately, we have a friend who has a son a couple of years younger than my two, and he’s been the recipient of a lot of generally worn only by one kid clothes over the last few years. And when I hand them over – it’s always “use what you want and pass the rest on”

    I tend to do a massive cull of anything I think is too small, followed by a go through of keep for #2/pass it on/op shop a couple of weeks later. Then I get rid of it. I haven’t kept many of the boys clothes from when they were smaller (and will be totally glad when every item with Ben 10 on it has left my house! Two hoodies to go…)

    It’s cull time this week, as Kid#1 has announced ALL his jeans are too short and can we go shopping please.
    Harriet Archer´s last post…Stuff an’ that…

    • How funny, I always secretly thought having kids of the same gender would make it easier, but I guess that’s not always the case!

      • Suzanne says:

        This is exactly my situation as well. I agree wholeheartedly with Harriet. My experience is that even the clothes that my older son wore and loved and are still in good condition may not be fancied by my younger son. So even more culling is necessary. One of the biggest indicators for me that a purge is necessary is when my kids are shoving clean clothes in their drawers. If they have to fight a job, it makes it worse. The timing on this post is perfect as it’s time to start pulling things for our local children’s consignment sale next month.

      • It was easier for me. My younger girl has almost always been able to wear her older sisters clothes, eventually. I keep two boxes of clothes…winter and summer. When the new season rolls around my younger daughter tries on clothes out of the box. Anything that fits and she likes goes in the closet, anything that is too small for her, or that she doesn’t like gets donated. At the end of the season, anything of hers that I’m sure she won’t be able to wear the next time that season rolls around gets donated. I’m to the point now where I can almost get rid of one of the boxes.

  7. I decided very early on that my children’s dressers were a perfectly acceptable size for their clothing and limit buying what can fit in them. Unfortunately I didn’t count on how many clothes my mother and sisters would buy for my daughter particularly! Now that my daughter is 10 and my son is nearly 7 I don’t keep outgrown stuff any more of course so it is easier. But I used to do just what you do. Only keep the best stuff to pass on (I knew I wasn’t having any more). I still have one box with a few favourites of theirs that I couldn’t part with. Now I just have to store some out of season clothes that they might still fit into the next time that season rolls around. I use their closets for that because I still only allow enough clothes as will fit in their dressers. Now I just need to follow that same advice… :)
    Catherine´s last post…Fabric samples from Spoonflower

  8. I know exactly what you mean, sizes differ greatly from brand to brand!! I don’t store too many of my preschooler’s old clothes, they are given away almost as soon as they are outgrown. For the rest, he has a little zip-up wardrobe of his own. Considering how expensive good quality kids clothes are, we believe in buying fewer pieces of good stuff. It also helps in reducing the ‘consumerism’ mentality in kids!
    fab´s last post…Journal Your Ramadan – Day 3

  9. We didn’t have tons of clothes for our daughter, and when we lost all our stuff, including clothing, and needed to replace our wardrobes, we just bought the minimum amount first. And then noticed it was enough. A week’s worth of tops and bottoms (plus a warm cardigan and a nicer dress) is fine for my 3-year old. Sometimes she can wear the same shirt for many days. Sometimes she needs three pants in one day. But we haven’t run out so far. We don’t know if we will have another child. I have a small box of saved baby clothes (that is okay because it was stored in the attic). My daughter wear mostly unisex clothing but as she doesn’t have much it will be very easy to store until we know for sure if we are having another baby.
    Pony Rider´s last post…Things as Thieves

  10. Lyndsay says:

    I have 4 (soon to be 5) boys. I finally got sick of seeing all of their laundry piled up either dirty, or clean waiting to be folded. My oldest is in men’s sizes and doesn’t get many hand me downs, so he was not an issue. The younger 3? Craziness! I finally cleaned out a 6 drawer dresser. They each have 2 drawers. 1 holds pajamas, undies, and swim trunks. The other, I fold together a shirt and shorts to make an outfit, and keep a weeks worth in their drawer. I sorted through and got rid of a ton of clothes to begin with, and I have been sorting through every time I put outfits together. If I never can find anything that seems to look right with it, or it has sat through 2 cycles of outfits, they don’t need it. Now if only I could sort the baby clothes like that!

  11. I’m with you on limiting the amount you purchase to 7 – 10 days worth of clothing (I tend to lean to 10, as I have girls, and we dress them up for church, and then down again for the rest of the day etc). I find limiting shoes a real challenge though, it’s a weakness.

    One practice that’s been helpful for me is storing according to age, rather than the size on the tag, and keeping a small clothes hamper in the closet that I gradually fill up with the things that are outgrown. I find that process takes a few months, and I don’t want to be going back and forth between their closet and storage …. so when I notice it’s too small, I wash it and then throw it in that basket, and on a day when it suits, I box it all up together once I’ve sat down and gone through it carefully.

  12. Ha – We have the opposite rule. We only buy things that look like mini versions of adult clothes. We hate tacky kids clothes!
    Janine (Alternative Housewife)´s last post…Little Boys Skate Clothes – Under $20

  13. My younger son who just turned 2 has far too many clothes, since I went through laundry aversion while working when his brother was his age. I think it’s more difficult in the UK because seasonality is less practical, they need to wear sweaters 8-10months a year! But I barely buy anything, I had to get a couple more sweaters this time, that’s it.

    I’m more hopeful now my eldest is in school and wearing uniform. He has a weeks worth of that and then only 5 pairs of pant, 5 shorts and a half dozen short sleeve and same long plus a couple sweaters. It’s much more manageable, and I only seem to replace things a couple times a year.

  14. I quickly realized that cute as kids clothes are … I really didn’t need to buy any. I mean ANY!!! My first born was burdened with enough clothes to feed an army and I really wanted to buy him clothes but didn’t need to. Between grannies and hand-me-downs I don’t actually have a clothes budget. If my kids desperately need something then we’ll get it, but they are are literally covered by birthdays, grannies and so on!!! Now shoes, thats another story… eight pairs of shoes twice a year we have to budget for!!!
    Se7en´s last post…Se7en’s Celebrities: The Domestic Goddesque…

  15. I’m a foster carer, so storing kids clothes is just a part of the job. But doing it without holding on to too many or too few is a real art. So yes, I have the containers divided into boys & girls, summer & winter, and general sizes. I have all the newborn & premmie gear together and I also have a box for shoes and a box for hats & beach gear.
    People do tend to think that I can use all their de-cluttered clothes. I’ve been lucky to have been given some beautiful, quality items that many children have used over the years and they still look perfect. I’ve also been given a LOT of clothes that I just donate straight away (same day if possible). So my suggestion is to really have a look at what you are planning to pass on and do the right thing by donating or tossing before you pass them on.
    The other suggestion I have is to use your baby blankets or cot sheets as an outer layer to wrap the stored clothes in. Baby clothes especially will yellow if stored in plastic, but the fabric will stop this from happening.
    Rose´s last post…We Are Their Village

    • Good suggestions! I’ve heard from other foster care parents how essential it is to be so organized with maintaining a clothes system like what you have.

  16. My daughter wears the same dresses during summer- and wintertime. In winter she adds a t-shirt and leggings. This saves me a lot of money. My problem with her is that she is extremely tall. She is 8 and she has the size of a 14-year old, and she is the only girl in our whole family (from both sides) so we have no hand-me-down clothes for her.

  17. Jessica says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I was a nanny, there were about 300 times (especially when dressing a 10 month old baby in her THIRD set of blue jeans that day) when I swore that my kids were going to live in white cotton onesies until they were old enough to ask for something else. Trying to keep fancy clothes looking good is just absurd. If it isn’t a diaper blowout, it’s spitup or dribbled food or dirt or marker. Plus, the kid has less range of motion, which throws off balance, and the adult can’t focus on having fun because they’re following the kid, trying to ward off stains. I got in the habit of dressing her in sweats and changing her just before her patents were due home.

  18. Chrystal says:

    I have two boys and I feel the same. What if I have another baby? Since storage space is such a premium, we decided that if we were to have another we would start over. Having said that, I still have a baby car seat in our loft ! Clothes however don’t do well as hand me downs because they get so worn and tatty, there are very few that we can store for the unknown future. At least in our family…. Maybe it is the boy factor here but I totally agree with your storage system. I want to cull their clothes to look like your son’s wardrobe. It so can be done and laundry chores would be so much easier. Thank you s much for you blog. It is the absolute best for what our generation needs to hear. Keep going please..

  19. I used the same system as your first picture to store the handed-down clothes we were given for our first-born daughter. By the time our second daughter was born, I had realized what you mentioned about not all 2T clothes are the same size. So, I resorted the clothes by the age range that my oldest had worn them. This has saved me a lot of time when I go “tote shopping” for my younger daughter. As I was sorting by age, I also applied the principle of only saving what we would enjoy seeing our daughters where. More time savings!

  20. What a practical post! I see the logic to fewer clothes, worn harder. However, when we are given hand me downs, I usually keep any play clothes that aren’t tacky or terribly stained because I allow my children to get into quite rough, dirty play during the day. I would be annoyed if I had to go buy play clothes when I had turned down free ones.
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…Flip Flops and Jellies for Genevieve

  21. jerilyn says:

    I have 3 boys from the age of 5 to 5 months. The first was born in June, the second in August, and the third in February. Because of the shrimpiness of the first two and the third’s chunkiness AND being given so many clothes of all seasons, we’ve been set with clothing. Except now the oldest ruined almost all of his handme down pants and his new shoes but I guess with boys I should expect some things to not pass down. So far, my children have been like the same kid with a few slight variations so the clothing seems to work for all of them. :) I store the clothes in the XL ziploc bags- one bag per size. Now that we’re done having children, I am reusing those bags. Just got rid of the newborn and 3 month clothes and now those bags have been freed up for size 5 (winter) and size 6. I shop ahead in clearance and consignment 1/2 price sales. So I’m finished with size 6 and working on size 7. This saves a lot of money as long as I remember what I have boughten already :)
    We may have saved on clothing costs but our grocery bill is crazy expensive already!

  22. :) I use the exact same storage in the closet for my three boys–each has a hanging organizer with 6 slots…6 outfits. The (overflow) “rest” are in a couple of bins in the basement storage. The only time it gets tight is when it is winter and the clothing gets more bulky.

    My little girl-has a dresser….and it is messy. Same thing…people giving too many clothes of many sizes. :)

  23. I love this! Our best trick to keep one part of the clothing storage low was in the newborn department. We didn’t find out if we were having a boy or a girl so that all our gifts would be unisex. Now we are set for the next kiddo (someday) for a few months boy or girl! We have not had to buy any clothes for our son who is 2, and honesty have been given what will probably be a full wardrobe up to size 6! I do have that problem of keeping too much of the given stuff because he is extremely tall for his age and thin, so though he would need a 4t to get into footie pj’s he needs 24 m or 2t for anything with a waist-band…. hard to guess what will fit!

  24. Our daughter will be three this Fall and we’ve yet to buy her anything but shoes. We’re incredibly grateful for everything we’ve been given but I do need to remember that just because it’s a gift doesn’t mean I have to keep it…
    Steph´s last post…A Broken Record

  25. I just sat down last night with a big bag of clothes for my youngest daughter that was given to us by my sister-in-law. I was ruthless! I brought out a laundry basket for clothes to keep for her, and a diaper box for clothes to pass on right away. With my first I kept everything and just ended up with cluttered drawers, this time around I’m not feeling guilty if it doesn’t suit the style I like, or if it’s not the right season, I’m just passing it on.
    As for storage – Each child has a box in the top of the closet to put clothes in to keep for them forever. My Mom kept a box of my most favourite clothes and I love to put them on my daughters. But it is only a small-ish box so I’m being very picky about what goes in :)
    I’m not sure we’re done having children either and with 2 girls already we are hoping for a boy, but I do recognize the possibility of a third girl so I am keeping a few things, not enough to fully clothe a third child, but the supply of hand-me-down is still going strong, so I’m not worried. Other than that small amount of clothes to store – I’m giving them away to my neice and to a friend’s friend who cannot afford to buy a lot.

  26. This was such a great article (it was Pinned immediately!) Great reminder to continue ‘the good work begun’ with our kids’ clothes. We have four and it seems that I was overwhelmed with bags and bags of hand-me-downs from friends. My three year old is still working on getting to the potty, so we have to have quite a few sets of clothes for him but since I do regular laundry I also decided to root through the clothes and pick out everyone’s most favorite pieces and then donate the rest. This is when opinions are a good thing! This rule for a week’s worth of kid’s clothes can also be applied to school uniforms. Last year we had so many options that it was (dare I say) too many. This year I got smart and ordered one jumper for each girl, three blouses and one pair of pants. My son will have two pairs of pants, two pairs of shorts and 2 long sleeve, 2 short sleeve shirts. Hopefully this will eliminate the craziness. After I reduced our pile of clothes (and did the same to mine!) I see how much less laundry we are having to keep up with. We have been able to give away our clothes to a friend (with the understanding that she doesn’t have to keep anything!) and slowly but surely are coming out of the save-the-clothes-for-the-younger-kids phase! Thank you so much for your simple wisdom! I love your blog! Blessings!

  27. I had been doing nice labels on the side of nice, clear plastic storage boxes and pretty soon I was unhappy with how many I was filling up and how it was expensive to go buy more… and I had a lot of baby stuff I wanted to pack away still. So instead, I went to uline and bought 50 of their “book boxes”. Whenever I need a new box, I just make one up, fill it, and mark what’s in it on the side. I just do the overlapping fold thing on the top since I frequently get into the boxes and I don’t want to deal with tape all the time. I have an unfinished basement, so I just stack them about 5 high against one wall. It’s really easy to see which box I need and get it out if I want too. I just find it nice to have such an easy, cheap, modular storage system. I’m big on toy rotating so a lot of my boxes have books and toys. I also have a lot of fabric and I have quite a few boxes for that. Maternity clothes… breast pump… I keep a box marked for my son’s shoes ontop and just throw in each pair as he outgrows them. It works really for us.
    Amanda´s last post…Healing

  28. Joyfulmomof6 says:

    We have 6 children, so the amount of clothes could get overwhelming.
    I use those Giant Size (XXL) blue storage bags http://www.amazon.com/Ziploc-Double-Zipper-XX-Large-3-Count/dp/B003U6FMOK and save only one of those bags for every 2 sizes (ie 2T/3T). You can stack them higher than totes.

    It’s amazing how the Lord has always provided clothing for my all children. Except for now that my 3 oldest are teens, I have barely bought anything except shoes and socks. I always graciously accept the clothes, then pass on to Goodwill what I can’t use.

  29. Oh goodness, I’m hanging on to nearly everything still. My daughter is 15 months old and tiny, so at least we’re getting a lot of mileage out those 12 mo. (and 9 mo.!) clothes. When she was much smaller, I wish we’d actually bought a few more pieces of clothing for her because she spit up so much and we don’t have a washer/dryer in our apartment. Since we’ll probably still be in this apartment when/if we have another baby, I’m simply hanging on to everything. Some of her outgrown things are at my parents, and the rest are in her closet. Good thing her clothes are so small! I was given a lot of cute clothes, though, and I can’t wait to pass them on to friends or family when they start having kids.
    Jen´s last post…A womanifesto of my very own

  30. I keep my boys’ clothes in hanging closet organizers like yours. I love being able to see everything at a glance. And I too try to keep their wardrobes for each size pretty small. However, one thing I struggle with is a twinge of guilt when I pass up on hand-me-downs items because they’re not really our style or because we already have enough. Oh well!
    Erica {let why lead}´s last post…Letting Your Heart Go Walking Around

  31. Morning Sunshine says:

    Every 6 months I go through their clothes and trade out winter for summer, check sizing and wear. They all get 10 outfits – enough for a week + extra for kid craziness (potty accidents, throwing up, mud wrestling, etc.). They seem to wear the same 7 over and over, but I like having a few extra in their drawers.
    My boys are 10 and 3, and while I saved everything 10-yo wore while younger, he has gotten a lot harder on his clothes as he grows. So for now, and maybe another 3 years, younger can wear his brother’s hand me down.
    My girls are 8 and 5, and totally different body shapes: 8-yo is petit, 5-yo is not. The nice thing about the girls is when 8-yo grows out of it, 5-yo can wear it next season. Also, with my girls, we have been given a LOT of nice, good-quality clothes that are a season ahead of my oldest. Since they are different shapes, I keep everything we have been given from this person. I also have a newborn girl….
    I also shop at the end of season sales, so I buy lots of things big (mostly for the oldest boy). And with the HMDs, I have a lots of clothes waiting for someone to wear. I bought some big totes from Walmart and taped names on them. In each tote are the clothes that are either out-of-season or too big. If I find a good deal on underwear or socks, I buy them – we will use them at some point, and the price is just going to go up.
    When given HMDs, I also go through and pass along what we don’t want immediately.

  32. My stroke of genius came when I started storing pants and shirts in different boxes. My almost 3yo has a long torso and has been wearing 3T shirts all summer, but is so skinny she still fits in the 18mo shorts. I also like doing this in case we have a boy–I like unisex pants/shorts so about half of the pants should be usable.

  33. I have 3 girls and have a terrible time with old clothes. The 2nd doesn’t like the same things as the oldest and they have different coloring (one redhead and one blond/brown). I currently have a huge amount of clothes to sort out. I also dislike purchasing bins as I could reuse the currently worn bin for the previous size being stored, well if I had enough to begin with. I used so few of the stored clothes with the baby that I almost wonder why I keep them.

  34. yep, each time dd grows up a size, i sit down and pick out 5 of every category (short-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved onesies, long-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved onesies, jeans, leggings, dresses, pjs, skirts, shorts, etc. – depends on the season) and pass along the rest.
    oh, the sigh of relief after is well-worth it. yard sales can fill in the blanks if/when there’s another wiggly-one. :)

  35. No kids for us yet, but this is a great post. Maybe I need to organize MY off-season clothes better to get in the habit long before kids’ clothes are an issue!
    Kristin´s last post…10 days in – we’re 1/3 of the way done!

  36. Seasonal clothes went out in the garage in a Space Bag. My daughter’s new dresser is big enough that we don’t have to swap out between seasons if I don’t want to..we just have rainy/dry season here. We ship my daughter’s outgrown clothes off to the cousins. My son’s clothes..well he wears them until I sneak them into a Goodwill bag when he isn’t looking. No hand-me downs from him :)

    The photo of the hanging clothes organizer just inspired me for something entirely different..my sister and her kids might me staying with us for a few weeks and I was wondering where to have them put their clothes so they aren’t living out of a suitcase…I have a hanging sweater organizer that isn’t being used..so now I don’t have to go try to buy something! Thanks for the idea!

  37. So glad to learn your clothes shopping guideline that what you buy has to look like children’s clothes, not miniature grownup clothes. We have family members who dressed their son in little button-down shirts and tweed vests as soon as he could sit up, and it REALLY bugged me! It felt like they were in such a hurry for him to grow up that they couldn’t even enjoy him as a baby. What’s the deal with that?

  38. GingerR says:

    I have an outside of the home job and like to have 10-12 days worth of clothes. They go to daycare with a change of clothes and often it’s used during the day.

    Otherwise I’m scrambling with too much laundry during the week.

  39. I do one thing quite differently than you, Rachel, but it really works well for me. I keep everything for one year in one large plastic container. So all NB-12-mo clothing is together in one place. And when I have a new baby, it ALL gets hung in the baby’s closet, with size dividers, so that I can see everything all the time.

    The clothes that the baby wears currently are in the dresser. Everything she’ll grow into that first year is hanging. This way, whenever we get hand-me-downs, I can easily see what we already have on hand, then fill in the gaps with the hand-me-downs. I like being able to see everything for the year all at once.

    It solves the problem of a 12-month outfit actually fitting at 6 months, because you can see it coming! Near the end of baby’s first year, I get out the “Year 2″ bin and start all over again!

  40. jessica says:

    Good points!
    Here is my perspective, looking back after having three daughters:
    1. My kids do not grow at the same rate or have the same shape. I’ve found that, pants in particular, pass from #1 to # ok, but skip #2. She gets new pants that don’t pass to sister #3.
    2. By kid #3 we had WAY more clothes than were necessary. I culled it down to my favorites. When the new seasons’ box comes down, I only put in their closet what they like right away. Otherwise it just takes up closet space and never gets worn. I use that opportunity to get rid of any that have new “ghost” stains or that are obviously not going to work for the next kid down.
    3. Now that they are 12, 10, and 7 they already know which of their older siblings’ clothes they like so I can cull at the front end. I will only keep those if they are in good condition.
    4. By about age 10 they wear their clothes longer, have much stronger opinions and the clothes are more “well loved” so there is a lot less to hand down. I am primarily keeping jeans, pajamas, and dresses at this point.

  41. We have a lot of land and 2 boys that live to be outside, 3rd little one on the way. Our boys get so dirty and are so rough on everything that I was spending all my time fighting stains, rips etc. So… 2 sets of clothes for each. About 10 “nice” outfits (no stains, holes, etc) and 7 outside “outfits”. Pants with holes in the knees, cut off shorts, stained shirts, jackets with messed up zippers. I even wash these clothes separately so they don’t contaminate the rest! Stored clothing still feels like I have too much b/c we’re in the middle of an amazing hand-me-down chain but we have room in the attic so I don’t let it get to me too much. Sort into stackable plastic boxes by season and general size/age. Shoes have their own box. I do hate switching clothes for season or size but it never takes as long as I think it will ! :)

  42. I have really enjoyed reading these “Clear the clutter” posts. My husband and I just moved into our first house and have been trying to implement good strategies to prevent clutter from forming. We are also expecting our first child within the next few weeks.

    We have been totally blessed in the clothes department — I think I’ve spent a total of $6 on clothes (just at a couple garage sales). And we are totally stocked — sisters, friends, and gifts have me already trying to figure out how I should store. Since babies can grow so much faster than the labeled sizes, I’ve kept out clothes until about 9-12 months (12 months is more the really cute ones that I don’t want to forget about by the time she can wear them!) Everything else has been boxed up, labeled, and stored — though not as clean cut as I’d like.

    I think the hardest part is that I’ve also received a lot of clothing from my mother-in-law from her 11 year old daughter. So I’ve got clothes up to age 4 to store and I know for a fact much of it will never be worn…so I get to learn how to navigate getting rid of a lot of clothing that has sentimental value to her.

    All the advice on here is well appreciated!

  43. Suze G. says:

    What I’ve found interesting in this discussion is the dissemination of values – praticality, and economics, independence (kid’s selecting their own color/style choices, versus a parent’s decision about it), setting priorities and boundaries – how much is “too much,” passing on useful but not needed items – sharing our own abundance with others. And even free stuff has a price, requiring energy of some kind around it. Love hearing the different ways of handling the choices.

  44. I hang all my daughters dresses, long tees and fancy short tees. Pants, leggins, skirts and plain tees go in the dresser.
    I hang my sons shirts and jackets but everything else goes in his drawers. When he was younger and had those matching sets I used to fold them together.
    For hand me downs, for which I am VERY grateful, I look through immeadiately and hand back the ones that I think wont fit or they wont wear, so I’m only taking what is neccessary. They can then pass on to another friend, or donate, and I am not overwhelmed with clothes.
    I tend to buy similar colours or matching shades for my daughter so I can layer her clothes, it helps when I can layer under and over her summer clothes for winter (esp as winter here is not really that cold).
    My son though, is toilet training (or not!) and some days I go through 6 pairs of long pants (and undies and socks and SHOES). I’m lucky to have received the hand me downs to get me through those days.
    When I hand on, I try and give clothes in a style that I think they like their child wearing. I always let them know not to feel obliged to take them, or them all, and I donate the leftovers to charity.

    • Morning Sunshine says:

      yes, we also have 3x the number of clothes for the potty training size :P

  45. Absolutely agree with this method of sorting by age. I have three boys, and it works well for pulling out hand-me-downs.
    Rhonda´s last post…Yes, It is Okay to Laugh About Parenthood

  46. Can I throw in one more suggestion that I read from Mandi at Life..your Way that I’ve found SO helpful for storing kids clothes? For clothes that are labeled 2T, for example, but aren’t actually a 2T, mark the correct size on the tag with a sharpie. Then you can place it with the clothes that are more similarly sized. Some clothes are big, some are small, but you know what it actually is and can store it in the right place.

    We are storing a bunch of clothes right now, mostly due to the debate of if we should have another child. I’m not going to give it away until we know, because it doesn’t make sense to have to repurchase or find things we already had!

    Thank for the practical hints and great ideas!

  47. I find it pretty easy to be selective about hand-me-down clothes. I accept them with much thanks, sort through, and then ask if they’d like back the ones that didn’t “fit.” Even kids the same height can have different body proportions or strong preferences about how their clothes feel on their bodies. Often by “doesn’t fit” I mean it doesn’t fit my aesthetic tastes, or doesn’t fit my family’s values, but there’s no need to be that specific. I just say “thank you so much, would you like back the things that don’t fit or should I pass them on?”

  48. I’d like some clarification on buying only clothes that look like “kids’ clothes” rather than “adult clothes.” I can think of some examples (jeans on tiny babies, mini leather jackets) of adult clothes that are just plain impractical or uncomfortable for small children. But for the most part, boys’ clothes in particular can look an awful lot like my husband’s wardrobe! (khaki pants, polos, plaid shirts, jeans) so I’m not sure exactly what the distinction is.

    We have a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. I’ve been saving some unisex things (solid-coloured shorts; pajamas) for my daughter to wear, but as my son gets older there are fewer and fewer unisex options. We are not having any more children, so as my kids outgrow things, they immediately go out the door to friends with younger kids or to Goodwill.

    We don’t get very many hand-me-downs these days, and if we do it’s generally things like dress-up clothes and shoes that never had much wear. I’m constantly trying to figure out what the ‘right’ amount of clothing is for each child — so that we have enough clothing to feel like we can go a few days without doing laundry, but not have so much that it doesn’t get worn or takes up too much space. Right now I have three pairs of pajamas for my daughter, and I’m finding it isn’t quite enough: she basically gets only one night’s wear out of each pair (because she gets breakfast mess all over them in the morning) so I have to keep on top of laundering them.

    Now I’m trying to plan what the kids will need for fall/winter.

  49. Before our third boy was born, we decided to be ruthless in going through the clothes. I finally figured out that if I hadn’t put either of the first two boys in an item, I sure wasn’t going to put a 3rd in it. I know what my style is finally, and I stick with that. I was storing everything in large ziploc bags, and those were a huge pain. So now I’m storing everything in paper boxes that my husband got from his office. The shelves in the big boy’s room are just the right size to fit them. I typed up labels for size and season and taped them to the fronts of the boxes. Also, I made up a list of clothes that I needed more of as I was taking inventory, so I can look for those at yard sales, etc.
    Ellen´s last post…getting ready…

  50. Very good idea. I love your blog.
    Andreja

  51. FABULOUS, SIMPLY FABULOUS! Thank you and I love your blog!

  52. The hardest part is that every time I go through the clothes, I get a flood of memories. She wore that when she ate solid food the first time Or this when we had this or that happy adventure. I solved this problem by taking digital photos of the outfits before I gave the clothes away. I needed to separate the memory from the clothes. I want the memory, but I don’t have space for all the clothes.

  53. I think the hardest is dealing with the extra. We have very generous family members – which is much appreciated! – but we have MUCH more than we need. Our first is 19 months old, and while her things are neatly packed away, there are so many boxes that it is obvious that I need to take another pass at it. If she only wore it once – or not at all! – the first go-round, there’s really no reason to keep it, right?!
    Jennifer´s last post…Planning