Preserving Baby Clothes for the Future

Chelsea Day

Babies grow so quickly, and it’s easy to find yourself with a large collection of baby clothes. Whether you choose to donate them, sell them, or store them for your childrens’ kids to enjoy someday, you’ll want to make sure they’re preserved correctly.

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Buy Good Baby Clothes

First comes the fun part: shopping for baby clothes. From the adorable outfits to the tiny socks, there are so many cute things to buy. And you can’t help but want to get it all. When it comes to clothing, it’s easy to overlook the basics. What do you do with those tiny socks? How do you keep them from falling down? What’s up with the weird zippers and snaps? We’ve got answers for you!

You want your little one to have a wardrobe that is comfortable, safe and stylish. And you want it to last through all of those messy diaper changes. Here are some potentially mystifying things about baby clothes that are actually totally handy – and they can help make it easier on you when it comes to preserving baby clothes for the future!

  • Folds on the top of onesie sleeves may look frivolous, but they serve an important purpose. Those seemingly random extra seams are there to widen the neckline while keeping the onesie securely in place. This is so you can fold it off of their shoulders and down their body, sliding the onesie off of their legs as opposed to over their heads in case they have a blow-out.
  • Snaps in the crotch of onesies are for quick-and-easy diaper changes!
  • Elastic in the waistband of some pants serve the handy-dandy function of tightening and loosening as babies grow in their midsection. Babies tend to be like little slinkies – gaining and losing weight in the middle repeatedly – so it’s helpful to have flexible clothing options that cater to their current size. This is especially crucial when it comes to baby items that may be passed on to other babies who may be smaller or larger than your own in terms of weight and height.
  • Fabric matters. Cotton tends to shrink, so look for pre-shrunk cotton or more modern, durable options such as bamboo or hemp baby clothes.

Prparing Baby Clothes for Storage

The most important thing to consider when storing baby clothes is to thoroughly remove all stains. Use baby-friendly detergent along with oxygen-based additive such as OxiClean to thoroughly remove any set-in stains before storing baby clothes for the future. If you've tried everything you can think of to get stains out of baby clothes and they're still there, then it's time to turn to a professional. Dry cleaners are experts in all sorts of stains, and they’ll be able to get just about any issue out of your cherished baby’s fabric.

Long-Term Storage Decisions

You’ll want to store baby clothes in a safe, waterproof environment that is rodent-proof. A lot of people have had the heartbreaking experience of stashing baby clothes in cardboard boxes, only to later find that their babies’ onesies have served as the perfect environment for mice and rats to shack up. That is SO SAD! All that can really be done at that point is either throwing it all away, or carefully removing any rodents and rodent droppings before thoroughly washing the tatters and trying to turn them into some sort of quilt or keepsake item after they’ve been disinfected.

Remove Any Chance of Liquid Contamination

I like to select the most important, memorable outfits from each of my babies to stash away for memory-keeping purposes. I roll them up to prevent unintentional wear-and-tear on creases, then bag them individually in large Ziplock bags. Then, into an appropriate-sized Tupperware bin they go! Many bins nowadays have special seals to ensure that your items inside are safely preserved for the future. If you live in a particularly humid area or a place that’s especially rainy and damp, you may also want to add a desiccant to the bin. Desiccants are those tiny bags of rice or other water-absorbing materials that are often found in shoe boxes. They can be easily purchased online.

Labeling Baby Clothes

When storing baby clothes for long-term storage or even for reselling, I like to use a simple label-maker to mark the contents and the size of the outfits within each bag. You may also choose to mark the bag with the brand, and the season/year that it was released. This is particularly useful for higher-end clothing that may retain a fair amount of value. If you have lots of bins of stored baby clothes, you may choose to mark each bin with pertinent details as well.

What to do with Stored Baby Clothes

The most obvious use for stored baby clothes is for family memory-keeping or passing down to future generations. However, well preserved baby clothes can also be a money maker at second hand shops, consignment stores, or online sales sites. Many people sell large bins of baby clothes on eBay, or swap baby clothes with friends who are getting rid of maternity clothes or clothing for children in different phases. The biggest thing to consider when choosing to sell or swap baby clothes is to make sure you are getting an appropriate trade that is as high-quality as the item you’re getting rid of. Not all clothing is made and cared for equally. If you’ve gone to great lengths to preserve your baby clothes, make sure that you communicate that to potential buyers or resellers who may value items differently based on how they’ve been cared for.

And that’s it! That’s how my family has cared for baby clothes after having four messy babies. Their clothes have been well-cared-for and have often been in good shape to make it from baby number one to baby number four – and beyond! It takes a little extra time and thought to properly care for baby clothes, but it’s well worth it in terms of savings from being able to use items again and again as well as resell them, and memory-keeping / knowing that those clothes will still be in tip-top shape when I want to hand them down to future generations.

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Helping parents live simple and satisfying lives. Our homeschooling family loves to learn, and in our spare time (hah!) we RV travel and flip houses.

Boise, ID
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