What is it about baby clothes that makes them so hard to pass up at the store? If you’ve ever had a baby, you know they tend to build a pretty big wardrobe — and fast — thanks to everyone constantly gifting them new outfits. And if you like shopping yourself, well, you may have a lot of little shirts and shorts to pack up. How to store baby clothes best depends on your space and when you think you’ll use them again.
Maybe you’d like to add another baby to your family in a few years, or you know your family is complete, but you want to save a few favorite items for a future grandchild. Or, if your family has an heirloom outfit, like a christening gown, you may need to preserve it and pack it in a special way to keep it pristine for future generations. The location may also impact your storage solutions: Storing baby clothes in the attic and the basement can actually be pretty different.
And when it comes to cramming the most clothing into a storage tote, well, don’t cram them in the first place. Knowing exactly how to fold baby clothes to maximize your space can help you fit every single onesie, and keep them in good condition for longer.
How to fold baby clothes to maximize storage space
Whether you’re storing your little one’s clothes long-term or just trying to organize their dresser drawers, knowing how to fold baby clothes can make all the difference.
“I like a filing system so that when you pull out the bin, you can see everything from the top,” said Nathalie Jones, certified home organizer and CEO of Neat Nathalie, a home organization service based in Florida, in an interview with Romper. “If they’re onesies, I fold them in three vertically, then three horizontally, so they become a small little rectangle. If it’s an outfit, like a onesie with matching pants, I always put the sets together, then fold them the same way. When you file them, they should stay that way and not fall apart.”
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How to store baby clothes long-term
If you’re keeping your little one’s clothes for a future baby but you’re not sure when you’ll grow your family, or maybe just hanging onto them in case a friend or family member needs them one day, long-term storage comes with a few special considerations. First, don’t clog up an area you use often.
“It depends on their space. I wouldn’t keep it anywhere where they need access often, so probably like a guest room closet or the garage. If you live in a small apartment, I’d say perhaps under the bed,” Jones said.
If you have a home with basement or attic space where you plan to store your baby’s clothes, that can factor into how best to package them.
How to store baby clothes in the attic
Wondering how to store baby clothes in an overhead space like the attic, or even high up a closet? Start with smaller totes that are easy to maneuver and won’t get too heavy once they’re full.
“I recommend smaller totes — I’m scared of heights and I don’t picture myself going up a ladder with a big bin,” said Jones. “The most important thing is breaking down the clothing sizes, so then, let’s say, if you’re passing down clothes through younger kids, if you’re looking for size 5 you’re not taking all the bins out to find size 5. See what you have and put all the sizes together, then you can figure out the size of containers and how many bins you need. I would break it down into small bins so it’s easier to move, and label the front so it’s easy to see.”
How to store baby clothes in a basement
If you’ll be keeping your bins in a basement (or anywhere else that isn’t climate controlled), Jones recommends using weather-proof totes with tight-fitting lids to keep out moisture and bugs.
Since you won’t be lifting them overhead on a sketchy, folding attic ladder, your basement storage totes can be a little bigger if that’s what makes sense for your space. Also, make your totes are made of sturdy material. It’s much easier to use your space wisely when you can stack the bins as needed.
“I do not recommend, and I see it very often, if you use bins, make sure they’re not the kind that collapse. When you fold the clothes, it doesn’t maintain its structure so it’s harder for the clothes to stay in position. Use a bin that is structured,” Jones said.
How to store baby clothes in a small space
If you live in an apartment or don’t have much storage to spare, Jones recommended ditching the plastic bins for plastic bags that can be vacuum-sealed to save space.
“In a closet, basement or under the bed, I use the Ziploc vaccum seal bags. They literally become flat like nothing once you vacuum the air out. I recommend those instead of using the big bulky totes. The clothes don’t even get wrinkled. I’ve been using mine for almost 15 or 20 years and the clothes don’t get ruined, even in Florida in our humidity,” she said.
How to store baby clothes short-term
If you’re storing clothing short-term because your BFF is pregnant and you’re passing them along soon, using a spare drawer in your child’s dresser, or furniture in a guest room, can be the simplest solution.
“For drawers used for storage, for larger items like blankets, drawer dividers can help you make sections as wide or narrow as you want,” said Jones. “Organizers with individual compartments make more sense for baby clothes because they’re so tiny.”
How to preserve a christening gown and store it safely
Some clothing items can become heirloom pieces, like christening gowns, Easter dresses, or sentimental outfits. If you want to preserve something to pass down through the generations, you’ll need to take special care when storing them.
“For christening gowns, I recommend hand-washing or dry cleaning it,” Jones said. “Even though it may look clean, oils from the body over time can destroy the fabric, especially if it’s silk. Dry completely. Then, stuff it with acid-free tissue paper to hold its shape and prevent it from creasing. Once that is done, I recommend hanging it in a closet inside a muslin cotton bag. If you don’t have the space, I would put it in the bag and put that inside an acid-free box, but I would not store it in an attic or garage. If there are any accessories, put them in a separate box.”
Many people worry about pests attacking clothing in storage, and turn to moth balls as the solution. But removing the odor of mothballs from clothing can be difficult, and they’re harmful if you breathe their fumes too much. Instead, Jones prefers using a cedar block.
“On the outside of the bag between the bag and the box, I would put a cedar block to help keep out bugs, like silverfish, that are prone to attack silk,” she said. “Try to keep them out of the humidity, and check on it maybe every few months. Then, if you see a stain forming, it’s easier to address it.”
Jones often reminds her own clients to keep their purchases in check. If you don’t bring so many baby clothes in, you won’t have to figure out how to store them all later.
“I always say to limit how much you buy, because you may buy something today that in a few weeks won’t even fit them anymore. You risk it taking over more of your space.”
So, whether you’re hoping to keep your child’s clothes for their future sibling, or your potential future grandchildren, there are simple methods to storing baby clothes that will protect them until you’re ready to unpack them again.
Nathalie Jones, certified home organizer and CEO of Neat Nathalie, a home organization service based in Florida