November 23, 2017

Clutter Countdown: Parting with Sentimental Baby Clothes


Clutter Countdown - great ideas for parting with sentimental baby clothes

As this new year hits, I’m continuing on with my Clutter Countdown Challenge. It’s so easy for me to get sidetracked and yet, slowly but surely, I will conquer this. Just last year, I finally got rid of our boxes of baby clothes. Yes, I still had outfits from our eldest, he just turned 21.

Today Katie from the storycatching shop,,  is sharing her ideas for parting with some of those baby clothes. 

My mom keeps a very small box in her basement that’s labeled baby clothes. As a child, I didn’t understand why she would hang onto it when I knew she was done having babies. “We don’t fit those any more,” I’d mention in my childhood innocence. “No,” my mom said. “It’s a box of my memories.”

Today, my baby boy is nearly a year old. I fully understand the power of my mom’s keepsake box now.

I remember so many little moments, just by glancing at a piece of his old clothing. If I feel like I can finally part with it, my husband Martin will see it in the donate pile, and he’ll feel that nostalgic wave of emotion. We could easily wrap ourselves in this crazy cycle of keeping all those clothes.

Parting with sentimental baby clothes

Can you relate? Here are five ways we’ve managed to whittle down the number of old clothes we’re keeping.

The key to parting with baby clothes is focusing on the recipient instead of your nostalgic memories.

 1. Pass the clothes on to someone with a younger baby. On the surface, this idea sounds so obvious. But you’d be amazed. Have a specific person in mind, and box up everything you think that person could use.

2. Donate to a very specific cause. If you’re dropping your baby clothes off at any old thrift store, you’re more likely to hang onto things you don’t need. Pick an organization that needs your specific items. I picked the battered women’s shelter and a center that helps teen mothers. I wanted to help those women. I saw a specific need for the things I had; it made me want to give more and keep less.

3. Get it out the door. I have boxes of baby items for several friends. They were just sitting there, waiting for when I’d actually see those friends again. Winter is coming. I just mailed the packages, unannounced. And gosh were they a beloved surprise! Don’t keep waiting for one day. Get those goodies out the door!

4. Don’t look back! As I was on my way to make my donations, I made the mistake of looking in my boxes just one last time. You know–just in case. Don’t do that! I pulled out cute little socks and sleepers. I decided to hang onto fuzzy fleeces and a silly little monkey hat. We didn’t need them. Why keep them? I drove back the next day to surrender those donations.

5. Finally, decide just how many baby outfits you want to keep. Set a specific goal when you are NOT looking at the clothes. For example, I think my mom kept five items from each of her children. Sort through the items in your keep pile. Pick what’s most significant to you, then repeat steps 1-4 until you have your target keepsake number.

Do you have any idea how many baby clothes you’re hanging onto?

31 Days Clutter Countdown

I’m starting back with our Clutter Countdown Series. Have you followed along?

Take just 15 Minutes a day and we will make a huge change in our home.

Katie Clemons is a storycatcher and journal crafter. She helps people celebrate their stories with her award-winning writing prompt journals and free workshop at Gadanke. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana, USA.

how to declutter baby clothes


  1. DeLana White says:

    The best idea to me is to make a keepsake quilt out of them. I can do that if you are ever interested. Great post though!


    Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life Reply:

    @DeLana White, DeLana – this is the plan I have for my baby clothes. Do you make quilts for others?


  2. Melanie Jarman says:

    We kept the outfit they came home in and their baptism outfits. All other clothes were given to friends or donated.


  3. You hit that nail on the head. Years ago, we had a yardsale & put out a lot of the baby clothes & toys. No sooner did someone pick up a piece to buy it than I apologetically explained that the item wasn’t meant to be out for sale (must have been a mistake). I ended up keeping almost all the baby items & storing them in the basement. Years went by and by the time we pulled out the boxes for a donation run, the mice had destroyed most of it. They were probably in 7th heaven with all the nesting material the clothes provided. Have to admit that in spite of being sad at the damage, it made throwing the clothes away easy. I do wish they had blessed another baby instead. Lesson learned the hard way.


  4. I just ripped that bandaid off this week actually. I have 4 little ones, and knew we are likely done. If not, family and friends are so generous with their gifts we would still have plenty if that did happen. I found a bag that I had set aside of things I wanted to keep, and then a whole tub full I forgot I had. I found their coming home outfits and sent the rest off. I thought about a quilt, but they already have quilts that I have made for them… plus others. A house only needs so many quilts. I am trying to look at it through the viewpoint of: if my house burned down tomorrow, what would I actually replace. We had literally a trailer and Suburban load to go to Goodwill. My husband knew I would have a hard time actually seeing it go out the door so he did it while I was napping (I had already gone through everything, twice, so it needed to be done… I would have started having second thoughts though). I also am trying to limit my sentimental attachment to STUFF. I see our parents’ houses and dread the day we have to sort through all of it. We went to a relative’s auction and it was sad yet humbling to see everything that they cherished for so many years get sold off to total strangers – even his military medals (sore subject in the family).


  5. I also had a hard time parting with my sons baby clothes (he had alot) as he was my only child also. I had to take baby steps. I kept the handmade sweaters and special outfits ect and some newborn clothes that i couldn’t part with yet. Then I donated a huge bag to a family in need. Then each year i would go through the plastic bins and donate more. The sleigh crib and comforter set took years also. It is a very emotional thing that my husband did not understand.
    It helps to know the clothes helped out other family’s and i plan on making a quilt and saving a few to show my sons children someday (god willing). My son is 16 now and i still have a plastic container. Like i said baby steps 😉


  6. Baby clothes are so hard to part with. I’m planning to take my favorite outfits and make a quilt with them, or have a quilt made (I’m really not a sewer).


  7. Karen Davis says:

    If you have kept them this long, they really mean something to you……so why do you want to now? Maybe I don’t get it. I kept mine. I would take time with this decision. Just my thoughts. Love your blog!!


    Katie Reply:

    @Karen Davis, my son is only a year old. It was actually easy to part with things when I focused on how they could help other people and how I could free the space. (Our home is 720 square feet.) I’d rather have the space for him to play. 🙂


    Sun Reply:

    @Karen Davis, I believe most of us find in time that the children don’t want their old baby clothes when they are grown up, especially perhaps if they are boys! We were given just 2 of my husband’s baby outfits when we had our first child. They were stiff and miserably uncomfortable to wear after more than 2 decades, but we felt obligated to put them on our child and take photos to please the grandparents…who after all didn’t really care. It turns out all of us were acting out of some imaginary obligation. Thank goodness those clothes are gone now, and all our baby clothes have been passed along to babies who are enjoying them now. I did initially save a few favorite outfits for the first two children, and when the first was born, we all wondered why we had saved those few things. They are all gone now. We have photos and memories to enjoy.


  8. Yay! I went through and cleared out half of maybe 20 boxes of baby clothes three years ago. And then again last summer to only what I would really need for another baby. AND AGAIN this summer (as my youngest is nearly 4) to only a few memories to pass down to each of my four kids someday. I think I have three boxes. 🙂


  9. I think the reason I was so ruthless was seeing the women in my husbands family and how overwhelmed they (their families and home) are with stuff. One attic is full of clothes from their children who range in age from 23 – 31. Car seats even! They are constantly buying more tubs, “reorganizing” by building shelves, etc. I don’t want it. I don’t want to deal with it. It’s not what’s important in life… and it’s so freeing to get rid of that clutter. You would think “out of sight, out of mind” but that’s not the case at all.


  10. I guess we were a “hand-me-down” sort of set over here. Once my kids were done with their clothes, there were plennnnty of friends’ kids who could use them. My kids lived in hand me downs, and my friends’ kids did, too, including diapers and diaper covers. I did save their coming-home outfits, and the holiday outfits I used to make for them every year for Christmas & Easter (would’t presume anymore), special baby blankets, etc. It all fits in a large-ish plastic tote. So maybe cultivating a network of “hand-me-down-ers” might be a good thing? My kids loved getting bags of “new” clothes (when they got old enough to care), and so did their friends.


    Renee Reply:


    When my oldest was born I had 6 boys worth of hand-me-downs come through. It was crazy how many clothes they had all accumulated (church families). I was so happy when one of the moms had another baby boy… but then I turned around and finished up the rounds. I think there were 7 totes of just 0-12 month clothes!! Not including all the new stuff she bought for him. Since we were the last ones for a while (we are the only couple in child bearing years at this point) I asked for permission to donate it all. For the most part they had already saved when they wanted. Hand-me-downs are such a blessing though, and my son still gets excited when they come his way (but they are few and far between since the one ahead of him is an 9 year old farm boy… not much survives long enough to make it to us).


  11. I keep their coming home outfits and a very select few others. I started to keep a lot, but I knew I just couldn’t. And it just adds clutter. It is actually harder for me to give away the boys clothes then my one daughter’s clothes because all three boys wore the outfits.
    I have memories three times over. 🙂
    However, I have been able to bless others and that is a blessing.


  12. My baby is 30 now…but I still remember the day I learned to let go of their clothes. My 4 year old daughter fell and got very dirty at my friend’s farm. She went into her basement and brought up a pair of shorts from her 15 year old girl. When we went to put them on the elastic had dry rotted and we had to use a pin to fasten the waistband. I washed them and she carried them back down to her packed basement.
    Clothes get yellow, dry rot…and could be used by someone who really needs them. I did keep their dedication shawls and the first pair of baby shoes they shared!
    We were beneficieries of my sister-in-law’s willingness to pass along the cousins clothes and we shared ours with a family that had adopted several special needs children!


  13. Guilty of this myself but no matter what I could not bare to part with my girls clothes. My husband would make comments here and there (usually during moving) about me hanging on to them but deep down inside he knew why I did it so he was pretty understanding. See from the time I was 16 I was told I would never have children, I can’t express how devastating that was but God saw fit to bless me with two:-) He truly is a God of love! Anyway I knew I had to do something with the many totes of clothes so it finally came to me,,,,,I made a quilt out of them and it lives on my couch:-) Problem solved!


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