Hand-me-down kids clothing can be a huge blessing to a family. Free clothes? You won’t hear me complaining about that! With a little knowledge and forethought, it can be an easy way for you to save a whole bunch of money. But with poor planning, all those clothes can be a burden.
Turning the clothes around and passing them on to another child can give you all the feels, and (if you do it right) can bless another family, too!
I have been SO fortunate to receive hand-me-down wardrobes for both of my kids. I have also been able to turn around and pass those clothes onto other kids as well. So I have the experience of both sides, and I have finally figured out the best system to make it work!
The giver: There’s some obvious things you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re storing your clothing to pass on to another child. Clothes need to be clean. Duh! I treat stains as I see them, but I don’t stress if a wearable piece of clothing has a stain on it. Let the next mom decide what to do with it! If she REALLY can’t stand clothing that is stained…she won’t use that piece of clothing. Same with torn out knees (ahem, little boys!) in play clothes. I can throw a patch on, or the next mom can.
Buy those plastic totes in bulk! Seriously, when they go on sale, buy a bunch! The very best and easiest way to store clothes is in plastic totes with the lids. They stay clean, dry and safe for the next family!
Sort clothes into totes by size. Just a common courtesy, keep sizes together so they’re easier to find on the other side. Pro tip: I keep a tote in each of my kids’ rooms and put clothes away as I find they no longer fit. Once it’s full, it’s off to storage and the next tote comes out!
Label the totes with the size(s). Another ‘goes without saying’ point, but if you don’t label the tote with what size it is, the next mom will have to guess!
It is totally ok not to pass everything down to the next child. You have a favorite piece you just can’t part with? Keep it! You want to sell that expensive dress that your child only wore once? Go for it! You want to save a few gender neutral items just in case you have another kid? You’ve got my blessing. You owe no explanation when you’re gifting something to someone else.
The receiver: You will need to wash everything before you use it. It will likely smell from storage (depending on how long it’s been stored) or smell like THEIR fabric softener, and you’ll want to ensure it is REALLY clean for your kid. Treat any stains you find now, and mend anything that needs mending.
Inventory what you received! You might find that you have 15 onesies, 12 pants and 1 pair of shorts in this size. Or you’re missing a heavy winter jacket. The clothing you receive likely won’t be a full and complete wardrobe for your child, and you’ll need to fill in those gaps yourself. If you know what you already have, it makes shopping easier.
Look ahead in sizes. Clothes don’t always get outgrown at the same rate. There may likely be a 3T swimsuit in with the 4T clothes, because that’s when she outgrew it. If you don’t look ahead into that 4T bin, you wouldn’t know you have it. I tend to go through clothes as I receive them (or at least 1 size ahead) to pull out what will fit now/sooner.
Clothes will run small. This is the nature of hand-me-down clothing. Plan for it! I assume that my child will be wearing one size up from their “brand new” size in used clothing due to shrinking.
Here’s your head’s up, there are a few items that might not get handed down. Some parents don’t hand down shoes or don’t want to accept worn shoes. Shoes are a personal preference item. My son wore through almost all his shoes in the time it took his feet to grow, so some boys might not get those passed on. But I’ve got bags of girly shoes for my daughter… Underwear is another one of those items. Some people cringe, others wear them without question.
My oldest picked up a fantastic saying in kindergarten, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. This is applicable to hand-me-down clothing. I just knew my sister had a beautiful (insert whatever coveted item here) and why am I not seeing it among these hand-me-down clothes?! And WHY isn’t my nephew wearing that adorable sweater that my kid had at his age?! “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. Not all clothing will get passed down, and not all clothing will get worn. Deal with it. ;)
Personally, I pull out all gender neutral clothing and that gets sent on to the next oldest child, regardless of gender. All those white onesies, Packer jerseys and black snowpants are getting double the wear, so you won’t find them in my clothes bins.
And there you have it! The best information I can offer you about hand-me-down baby/kids clothing. Saving everyone time and money, and conserving natural resources to boot! Now, help a mama out and share this with a friend!