From baby booties to flower dresses, there are so many outfits that must be saved for all eternity. Special garments are saved for a multitude of reasons – a valued memento, special hand-me-down, or even for your future grandchildren. It can be challenging to choose what baby clothes to keep, given the emotional attachment these pieces have, and even harder to store the safely. Here are some helpful tips, for experts who once stood in your shoes.
Desert Island Scenario
Oftentimes when you keep too much, you forget why you kept an item in the first place or why it was so important. “Choose only the clothes that have strong sentimental value and are in good condition,” Susan Manning of Streeterville says. There’s plenty of outfits to choose from, but save the ones that preserve a meaningful memory. The perfect question to ask yourself is, “If I was on a Desert Island, what one item would I keep.” Something handmade from a lost relative or a baby blanket are important to save.
Wash, Dry, Repeat
Wash or dry clean any clothes that you wish to put into storage. Often times clothes may house unseen stains that may come to the surface with time, if they are not properly treated and prepared correctly. Once thoroughly cleaned, wrap each piece in archival, acid free tissue.
Note: do not store any clothing or garments in plastic bags. Mildew can develop from the trapping of moisture within plastic bags – inevitably causing your clothing to smell.
Keep Baby Clothes Separate
Frequently we do not just keep baby clothes. Toys, books, and other baby keepsakes are also great mementos of your time as a new parent. Do keep these items, but avoid storing them in the same storage container as the clothing you wish to keep. With age, battery operated toys, crayons, and even books may stain your garments or eventually create an undesirable odor.
Choosing the correct storage container for clothing is important to ensure that the material remains in the condition you left it in for future use. Jessica Lindt of Wheaton, IL explains that “bunching multiple sizes together can create problems, develop a system.” Keep each clothing size to a different size box, otherwise you will create a new mess when it comes time to find the special onesie that you brought home from the hospital.
Other ways to organize your boxes can include color coordination. Red for 3T, Blue for 5T, and so on. Stick with plastic bins if you can. Other materials may stain clothing over time.
Whichever boxes you choose make sure they are acid-free or plastics, made of polypropylene.
Note: These plastics will show a PP or #5 to indicate that they are in fact polypropylene.
Location, Location, Location
Lindt of Wheaton also recommends to avoid any and all damp areas, including attics, basements, garages, sheds. All of these areas can experience drastic temperature changes, especially in the Chicagoland areas, that can affect the materials stored. Look into a suitable climate-controlled solution – such as an area under the bed, an interior closet, or even a storage unit.
It is best to do an annual check on items like these to make sure they remain in the condition you left them in. If the condition has otherwise changed, make alterations to the location you have stored them in.
Save Space & Get Creative
Given any circumstances, maybe you are not able to save all of the clothing from your son or daughter’s early years – but you still want to keep a memento to document the memories. Although this may seem hard, some moms say – Resist! Carol J. of River North in Chicago says that for years she had kept little things, which continued building and building, eventually “overwhelming her living space.”
Here are a few ideas to keep the memory and avoid the mess.
- Take photos of the garments, outfits, and fashions. For starters, those overalls will never look as cute as they did when your son was wearing them on the local tire swing. Take lots of pictures of your children in action. They’ll make the clothes look even better and help you better remember the moment.
- Scrapbooking is oftentimes a therapeutic way to archive your past. Cut a pocket, logo, or graphic image off of your child’s favorite shirt (once they’ve grown out of course) and keep it for a page in your scrapbook. If a scrapbook is not your style, try a shirt quilt or a shadow box.
- Maybe letting go is more difficult for you. Think about donating to a worthy cause that you’d like to support. Hand-me-downs are excellent for social services or foster care organizations. Jenny Parsons, from the Beverly area of Chicago, went above and beyond collecting “unwanted clothes from friends, families, and neighbors during the holidays.” Instead of donating to any organization, she went directly to people in need of clothing in downtown Chicago – allowing them to pick and choose the sizes they need for their children. The added bonus was buying additional food and supplies (water, tooth brushes, hand sanitizer) so people did not leave empty handed. “It allowed us to free up extra space and give our children an opportunity to make a difference.”
- Tight on a budget? You may be able to make a few dollars by selling or putting your extra baby clothes up for consignment. In going this route to could be able to buy new garments for new memories.
We know it’s tough, but you’ve got a long road ahead full of torn jeans, busted Converse, and poodle skirts – so pick your favorites and live in the moment, because it only lasts now.