How to Part with Outgrown Baby Clothes

Advice for the sentimental

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Baby grows so fast! You love to see her progress, but saying goodbye forever to baby things can be a bittersweet moment.

The super-soft white pajamas with little yellow ducks that my dear friend Lorraine gave the baby … the adorable red fuzzy my daughter wore to the beach that misty fall day … the stacks of printed onesies that launch instant deja-vu to sunny moments in the first days with my new baby…. How on earth do I let go of these things?

I admit it: I’m sentimental. I hold on to material goods not for their value, but for how they jog my memory, and link the present to the past. That may be lovely, but it’s highly impractical. Here’s some advice from one who’s had to walk the hard path of practicality in order to keep closets and attic from being just a personal museum.

Keep It in the Family

Hand-me-downs are the obvious postponement for parting with those cute onesies and teensy shoes. If you have more than one child (or are pretty seriously planning on more) you’re wise to hang on to the outgrown things. If storage space is at a premium, weed through the items that are hopelessly stained or missing snaps or that you only used on family occasions because Aunt Gertrude gave it to you but that you never really liked in the first place. Make those things into household rags or donate them if they’re in OK condition.

Otherwise, pack things away in boxes clearly labeled with the size range and season the clothes are suited for. Clear plastic boxes are nice because you can see approximately what’s inside, but if you’re buying disposable diapers in bulk, those boxes work just fine. Magical products like sturdy bags from which you vacuum all the excess air seem promising as they make the stored item about a third smaller than it started, but I’ve had mixed success with how long they hold the vacuum seal, and start expanding to fill the available space….

When you’re finished building your family, consider siblings, cousins, or friends who may be following close behind you on the baby-making trail. If you can hand over those closed and labeled boxes without another look, good for you! I saved my daughter’s little clothes thinking she might not be the last baby. Several years later, I’m giving her clothes to my dear friend who recently had twins. But I can’t quite do it without going through everything again, just as a trip down memory lane.

The key is to enjoy that trip without being too invested in the artifacts themselves. Your sibling, cousin, or friend may not feel the same way you do about these beloved items (at least not yet!). They may not like them, as clothes. They may, like my friend with the twins, be too frazzled to really focus on how fantastically adorable they are.

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