By Brittany Carlson
I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a pack rat when it comes to my kids’ baby things. It’s hard to part with baby clothes, toys and books; not only do I not know whether I’ll need them for another child, but they hold so many memories for me.
However, after I had my second son last summer, I’ve had to make some hard choices with what to keep and what to give (or sell, or throw) away.
Here is what I didn’t need:
Newborn clothes/worn-in clothing
If you’re anything like me, you were showered with newborn clothes for your first child (and you’ll still receive more for your second without prompting anyone). You may need to whittle your selection down to your favorites or the best-maintained. Of course, you can never have too many onesies in my opinion.
It might go without saying, but any clothes that your first child wore out, such as shoes or pants with fraying knees (from crawling) can go, either to a Goodwill or a trash bin.
(Excessive) baby gear
It’s really tough to make a decision on baby gear until after baby has been around for a few months and starts to show preferences. Also, what works for one child does not always work for another. Case in point: My first son, Adam*, now 3, loved sleeping in a rock and play and playing in a doorway jumper as a baby. My second son, James, (9 months), hated the rock and play and wanted a swing, and refused the doorway jumper in favor of an exersaucer. Gear is also the most easily replaceable, as Rachel Meeks notes in her blog “Small Notebook.” These days, parents can sell baby gear and buy new items in hours, thanks to sites like Craigslist. Personally, I’ve been using Facebook marketplace as a way to sell gear I’m not using (i.e the rock and play) and buy “new” things (like a bouncer) very cost-effectively.
If your children are close in age like mine are, you’ll be adding extra gear to your home anyway, such as double stroller(s), and possibly doubling things like pack and plays and high chairs, so the more you can get rid of and still have what you need, the better.
Bottom line: don’t feel you need to hang onto every piece of baby gear you own. The bare necessities (crib, stroller, car sear) work well if you’re tight on space.
Old maternity clothes
Some women love to reuse their maternity clothes, but after my first pregnancy, most of my maternity clothes were worn out! Besides that, my first son was born in January and my second born in June, so I needed shorts and sweaters at completely different points in my second pregnancy.
Every baby toy I own
While it’s tempting to just store toys as my older son outgrows them, I’ve learned that less in more in this area. A few different types of toys per age bracket work just as well (better, perhaps) than too many toys crowding your living space and making you crazy. The baby toys I’m glad I kept include a shape sorter, a soft stackable doll, a rattle, a couple of teething toys and an activity walker.
The key to remember here is that you will continue to receive toys every birthday and Christmas and that you likely have way more toys than you need. Personally, I always feel I have way too many stuffed animals and happy meal toys.
Kelly, author of the blog “Be a Fun Mum", offers some great advice on how to keep toys to a minimum. She writes that she sorts through her children’s toys twice a year—after Christmas and during the summer—by getting every toy out and sorting them into groups (with the children’s help). Then, she writes, they decide which toys are most played with, which are rarely or never played with (give away) and which are good toys to rotate in and out of circulation.
Anything that no longer fits my lifestyle
This is a bit of a catch-all category, but it’s worth considering.
One personal example: if your kids are close in age like mine, you won’t be needing a large single stroller anymore, since you’ll be using a double. (I still kept my umbrella stroller though).
I love Rachel Meeks’ tips for figuring out what to get keep for a second baby on her blog, “Small Notebook.” She offers four criteria for determining what to keep: how much storage space is available, how hard it would be to replace an item (i.e. certain clothing styles), how much an item costs and how long she would use the item (such as a few months for a doorway jumper at most).
All in all, having a second baby was less about keeping things for me than it was about making more space for our newest family member – in our home and in our hearts.
*names have been changed to protect privacy
Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and now has two sons, Adam (3) and James (7 months). She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She and her family live in upstate NY.