Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Do You Do with Baby Clothes When You No Longer Need Them?

As my youngest, who just turned four months, begins to outgrow his clothing, I'm finding in myself an unexpected sentimentality. Many of the baby clothes we have were originally my oldest's (now seven years old!) and have been handed down to each of the boys in turn. There are several outfits that all four have worn, and every time I bring out a box of the next size up, I am heard to squeal, "Oh, this was my favorite! No, this was my favorite!" I look forward to putting certain outfits on the new baby as he grows into them.

I do buy the occasional new bodysuit or sleeper, or sometimes I see a little outfit I love and can't resist purchasing, but this handing-down from one kid to the next means I don't ever have to buy anyone a whole new wardrobe...except the oldest. In fact, I'm so used to being able to just go into the garage and pull out the box of next-size-up clothing that I'm actually resentful at having to buy new clothes for my oldest as he outgrows or wears out his clothes.

Since we've basically decided that four kids is our limit, I no longer need to keep clothes to hand down once the youngest goes up a size. My baby is quickly growing into the 6-9 month size clothing, and I have retired the newborn and 0-3 month stuff. As I put the box away, I realized, I don't need to keep any of these. I have no one to save them for. I can throw them away, or give them away, but I don't need them in my house anymore.

It's a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, it'll be nice to finally free up some storage space by getting rid of these giant tubs of clothes. On the other hand, it's an odd thought that, after seven years, I don't have to save things.

And I'm finding that I want to preserve the memories attached to some of the outfits. I pulled this yellow duck outfit from Baby Y's drawer and realized it's the outfit my oldest came home from the hospital in.

Baby N, four days old

Baby G, six weeks old

It was too big for the 9-pound Baby N when he first wore it, over seven years ago. We had forgotten to bring a "going-home" outfit with us to the hospital, and someone had brought us this outfit as a gift, so we dressed him it in for the occasion.

But when I put it on the 18-pound, four-month-old Baby Y, it was a smidge too small. The top snap is missing - torn off in some washing in a previous lifetime. I put it in the "too small" tub and brought in the next size up, 6-9 month. I rummaged around to find a "new" outfit, which fits Baby Y perfectly. This, too, was originally N's. I remember S wearing it. I'm not certain if G wore it.

Baby N, three months old

Baby Y, four months old

But this tub, again, is full of seven-year-old outfits, well loved and well worn, but still usable and adorable.

Baby N, five months old.
Baby S, four months old

I just spent quite a while combing through old pictures, hoping to find that I had a picture of each kid in the same outfit, but so far I've come up empty. I have N and S in the same outfit, or even N and G in the same outfit, or S and G in the same outfit, but not all three or, better yet, all four.
Baby S, six months old (with Grandma)

Baby G, five months old

I've read of people craftier than I who have made quilts out of old baby clothes or found other ways to create lasting or useful mementos from them, but I am not that crafty or creative. Still, I like the idea of keeping some of the outfits, somehow, in some form. I don't want to keep tubs and tubs worth of clothes I don't need, of course, but I think I'd like to save a couple of outfits. Part of me likes the idea of giving an outfit to one of my sons, fully grown and a father himself, and saying, "You and your brothers wore this as a baby."

It's as if the clothes in some way carry the memories of the babies who wore them. Most of the clothes, I remember who gave them to us, or when I bought them, or where they came from. I remember a specific instance or photo when one of the babies was wearing a particular sleeper or overalls. Clothes that weren't bought for my kids but were handed down or over from friends whose babies outgrew them somehow feel less "mine." They have other babies' memories attached instead, other parents' styles.

Some outfits have been thrown away over the years because they were irrevocably stained, or torn, or lost too many snaps or buttons. Some can't be passed along anymore because they're almost unusable or simply worn out. But a few of them have held on, going from baby to baby and staying in relatively good condition. In a way, I'd hate to cut those up to make a quilt or something anyway, since they're still wearable. I'm still thinking about what I'd like to do.

Have you saved your babies clothes as they're outgrown, or do you prefer to pass things along as soon as you don't need them? What creative ways have you seen to preserve the memories attached to baby clothes?


  1. Darren Alvarez10/21/16, 2:59 AM

    This is really a good question, most mothers are facing this question in their motherhood. What do they do with baby unused clothes; when baby clothes are no longer in use, then it is quite better to recycle it. Recycling of cloth is an old method and we can easily give a perfect shape and proper utilize of baby clothes.
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