How to Deal With Outgrown Clothes, Toys, and Baby Gear
Having one of those moments when the walls are starting to close in on you? Clutter could be the culprit. Kids accumulate so much stuff, and it is hard to keep up with their rapid growth and the constant changes in interests and favourite toys. Often, more items come into the house than go out, and before you know it, there is just way too much.
Decluttering kids’ clothing, toys, and gear to get back to a cleaner and more organised home is one of those things that just has to happen. It is important for your mental health and for your kids to be able to move about their spaces and enjoy the age- and size-appropriate items that matter most to them. But it also can feel overwhelming. And if you do not know where to start or what to do with everything once you have purged, the process is even more stressful.
We have broken down a quick and simple method to tackle it head-on and get your kids’ outgrown stuff out of the house and onto its next destination. Whether your used toys, clothes, and gear will be loved by another family or turned into something new, if it is time to make like Elsa and let it go, here is what to do.
Decide What Needs to Go
Push aside the mental roadblocks, start strong, and power through. Focus is honestly the most important element, so send the kids to Grandma’s house or hire a babysitter for a few hours while you sort. At the very least, make sure everyone is parked in front of a movie or napping. You will not be able to effectively sort and purge if you have an audience!
Separate your outgrown or no-longer-used kids’ clothing, toys, and stuffed animals into three distinct piles: Store for younger/future children or grandchildren (10% or less—only what is most special and still looks great!); Sell to make a small chunk of change which can be reinvested in their toy collection or used to load up a coffee gift card for yourself (we are voting for Option B); Donate what is not likely to bring in much cash or what is truly needed by others who cannot afford it themselves; Pitch used dummies, old plastic baby bottles, and damaged baby gear that could be dangerous (mould, broken parts, recalled).
Which Outgrown Items to Sell
Thrifting and secondhand or children's consignment shopping is a booming industry right now. It is good for the environment as well as your community. Plus it can line your pockets a bit, which is always helpful when feeding and clothing a family. You might be able to get a decent amount of money for some of your kids’ outgrown toys and clothing in excellent condition, like:
- Name-brand or luxury clothing and accessories
- Seasonal wear (swimsuits, coats) in great or excellent used condition
- Expensive baby gear in good used condition
- Shoes that have been worn very few times and look new
- Items that are new with the tags still on (Growth spurt, anyone?)
- Perennial 'hot' toys (Barbie Dreamhouse, we are looking at you!)
How to Sell Outgrown Items
There are many ways to sell used kids’ clothing and toys, even if you have no experience doing so and little time to figure it out. Some of the easiest and most efficient are:
- Sell them directly. If you know the items’ resale values and have time to photograph and list everything yourself, Facebook Marketplace or branded resale groups will earn the most money. Make sure to account for shipping and PayPal fees when pricing your items and pick a neutral, safe, public spot if planning for local pickup. Mercari, Poshmark, and eBay are other places you can sell items directly online.
- Consign them online. If you are short on time and do not mind giving away a cut of the cash, some online consignment retailers will pick up used children’s designer or sought-after clothing and accessories from your doorstep, photograph, list, and ship them. You get paid when your item sells.
- Consign them in person. You will be getting less money but instant results if you drop off gently used children’s clothing, accessories, and toys at local children’s resale shops. Often, these stores will offer cash or store credit options, so if you need to size up or buy new toys you can get a bit more value with a store credit.
- Give yourself a deadline to get the clutter out of the house. Look at the calendar on purge day and pick a date a couple of weeks away. If it has not sold or you have not dropped it off for consignment by then, into the donate pile it goes. Your sanity—and space—are too valuable to let 'sell' piles accumulate everywhere.
What to Donate
Passing on used or outgrown items is a good deed that is always needed in the community. You should consider donating:
- Winter coats, hats, and boots in good to excellent condition
- Children’s books, including blank colouring books, unused sticker and activity books
- Baby gear that is up to safety code, works, and looks good
- Toys that are washable/wipe-clean (many donation drops will not take stuffed animals, but more on that below!)
- Anything from your 'sell' pile that has not sold after your self-appointed deadline!
How to Donate
- Prep items for donation just as you would to sell, remembering that children whose parents cannot afford brand-new clothes and toys also deserve things that look and feel good. Wash and stain-treat what you can, look over toys to make sure they work, and if you are able time-wise and financially, add new batteries to any toys that require them.
- Organise everything as best you can, remembering that the people working at donation centres have a lot of work to do. There is no need to bag it all by size or colour, but try to pack up toys with toys, blankets with blankets, and so on, if you can.
Where to Donate
- Thrift stores and mission stores often have drop sites all over, where you get a receipt for donation even if there is no actual store there.
- Local waste or recycle centres typically have a donation truck or box, so you can drop waste and donations at the same time (though you likely will not get a receipt for taxes).
- Churches, synagogues, schools, and community centres are good places to check, especially seasonally like at the start of Autumn when coat drives are a big push.
- Pickup donations can be arranged through many charities, so you do not even have to leave your house to get the clutter out. And, it is for a good cause so your work is doing double duty.
- Give them away directly by connecting to people in the community in a 'Buy Nothing' group on Facebook or by dropping off at a local 'Little Free Pantry' which often accept baby items. Either of these outlets can be found with a quick Facebook search.
When You Think It Cannot Be Donated…
Alright, parents everywhere: Let us do our best to avoid the landfill at all costs. Especially with the high volume of plastics hitting our oceans these days, the very best thing we can bequeath our children is a happier, healthier earth. We listed above the very few used baby and kids’ items that should find their way to your waste or recycle bin. Here are some other ways you can breathe new life into the objects that need to leave your home this minute:
- Animal shelters will happily accept stuffed animals, used crib mattresses, blankets or warm clothes that have holes and stains making them not ideal for humans. Did you know that they will often also take baby formula that has recently expired? Boom!
- Recycle them at home in a variety of ways. Terry or absorbent materials can be cut into small pieces and used as cleaning rags to cut down on paper towel waste. You can also use them for crafts with the kids, sewing practice if that is an item on your mile-long to-do list, or cut and repurpose them into tiny clothing items for dolls and stuffed animals that your kids still use. (The dollhouse could use a throw rug or two, no?)
- Send them off for recycling to a program that accepts worn-out textiles. These are either reused on a hyper-local level to create new clothes, rugs, and so on, or shipped overseas to be used for warmth, shelter, and more. Check Google with the terms 'textile recycling near me' for options. Very badly worn clothing and blankets can also be dropped off in boxes for recycling outside retailers like H&M and Zara, who will give you a discount on a store purchase in exchange for your donation.
- Do not ditch the nappies! Even though open packs of nappies your baby has outgrown cannot be dropped in donation boxes, they can be given away on Facebook or to homeless or domestic violence shelters. It is always worth it to ask before pitching items that other parents could really use, even if they have been opened.
- Get involved in the community. Many local programs, churches, synagogues, and county-run initiatives accept baby and children’s gear year-round. Ask around fellow parents and mark your calendar out for future drives so you are prepped and ready to donate recyclable items, even the ones you thought could not be accepted.
- Turn them in. Expired or damaged car seats and booster seats are not safe or legal to sell or donate, but some stores offer a few events throughout the year where they can be dropped off for recycling and you will receive a coupon in return for the donation.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.