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The Basics of Organizing Baby Clothes

An organized closet keeps baby clothes accessible at your fingertips. | Photo by David Stuck

The secret to maintaining organization is simplicity. This point is never truer as it is when planning for a new addition to the family. It’s truly incredible how much time new parents will suddenly need to devote to clothing management for the tiniest of garments. The task might seem overwhelming and time consuming, but it can be made easier. All it takes is a bit of preparation before that little bundle of joy arrives.

Getting Started

You will never have as much free time on your hands as you do before the baby is born. Having a simple plan and doing as much as possible beforehand will be a true gift to yourself.


Sorting clothing by size and season is your best bet. Start by washing and sorting all the clothing by size. It’s great to have a few preemie and newborn items, but some babies bypass these sizes completely. If you do need them, the time length will typically only be a short one. The rest of your clothing groups will be 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months and 18-24 months. That’s enough clothing to get you through at least a year and a half!

Short-Term Storage

Each clothing size category should now be placed in its own labeled bin. Even if you don’t yet have any clothing in some of the sizes, you will. It’s best to have the bins on hand and ready to go.

Choose your bins wisely—consider size, material and aesthetic. All items of each size should easily be able to fit inside the bin, and the bin should easily fit into the designated storage space. Make sure you account for future purchases, gifts and hand-me-downs. Go bigger than you think! I often create two bins for each size—one for fall and winter clothing, and one for spring and summer. Clear plastic bins with lids are a great option. You can see what’s inside; they are stackable, easy to label, light and sturdy. You can keep these bins in the baby’s closet on a high shelf as you won’t need to access them often.

Drawer storage instantly keeps baby clothes accessible at a moment’s notice. | Photo by David Stuck

Current Size Clothing

What do you do with the baby clothes you’ll be using?

Drawer Storage

Now that you have the clothing that is too big sorted away, you can focus on the fun part—all of the adorable little outfits for now. Drawers are perfect for onesies, rompers, footie PJs, nightgowns, sleep sacks and socks.

The best way to keep all these tiny items neat and tidy is to use drawer dividers. Sort each category into a divided section using a file-folding technique and don’t forget to label. Labeling will be vital when putting away laundry—you may have many visitors offering to help out—and during middle of the night outfit changes.

You’re much more likely to put items away with zero thought. Tension-mounted drawer dividers are wonderful because you can move and adjust them as the drawer contents change and grow with your child. Small bins and drawer organizers work well for socks, mittens, hats, bibs and other items.

Hanging Storage

I like to hang everything else—dresses, skirts, button-down shirts, things with hoods, thick rompers, robes and dressier items. In the beginning, your little one will mostly live in the ultra-comfortable, easy footie PJs, so allow for more drawer space and less hanging space during this time.

Often babies can be in multiple sizes at once, and sizes greatly differ by brand. Having some closet rod dividers to separate the different sizes in your closet can be helpful. By incorporating these dividers into your storage, you can have a few of the smaller looking items from the next size up and a few larger items from the next size down visible and organized.

Lesley Drane of Clean Lines Organizing and Design demonstrates how to get and keep your little one’s baby clothes organized and accessible. | Photo by David Stuck

Maintenance

With the groundwork of your system now built, it’s easy to stay organized. Once your little cutie outgrows an item, wash it, then place into the bin labeled for the correct size. Voila! Another gift to yourself—you are already organized for the next baby.

If you do not plan to keep outgrown items, simply have a donate bin in the closet in which to deposit outgrown clothes. When it is full, drop off for donation, sell, consign or pass along to a friend or family member. Hand-me-downs are wonderful. I have never had to buy clothing for my youngest son, and I love seeing all my nieces and nephews wearing my kids’ outgrown clothing.

Preserving Special Outfits

If you have special items that you would like to preserve as keepsakes, such as a baptismal or christening gown, make sure they are carefully washed and treated for stains. These items are most safely stored in acid-free archival-safe tissue paper and boxes. Using cotton gloves to handle the items further ensures no oils are left on the clothing.

Be sure to clearly label the contents of each box using labels or photos so that you don’t have to open the box or handle the contents frequently to locate what you are looking for. Store in a dark, dry area to ensure your keepsakes will not be damaged by light or humidity.

About Lesley Drane