There is a time-honored tradition of giving gifts to expectant parents. Many families even host an event that celebrates the child and includes the mass accumulation of baby clothes, baby equipment, baby toys, and other baby-themed paraphernalia. One thing that any new parent will not realize at first is that babies grow really fast. Because of this, all of these free clothes that they’re getting just before the baby comes, are going to be utterly useless in three months or less.
So how does one deal with these massive piles of accumulated clothing? There are four main strategies to explore. Some combination of these is going to be your most efficient way to balance utility and sentiment.
- Keep it
- Throw it away
- Sell it
- Give it away.
But before we look at each of these, there is one important thing to remember, right from the start:
Stay Organized with Baby Clothes
It is impossible to stress enough how vital it is to make sure that all of the clothing that you receive, purchase, or borrow is sorted according to size, age, and type. You’re going to receive a good many outfits that the baby will only wear once. Make sure you know where they all are, so that you make sure you get a good picture of baby in that outfit that Aunt Mildred sent you, otherwise, you could hurt her feelings. Plus, the more organized you are, the easier the task of getting rid of all this crap is going to be.
So, how do we get rid of it?
Sort Baby Clothes and Keep Some of Them
Once baby begins outgrowing some of her clothes, you will want to sort the baby clothes into two piles. But before you do, pull out a few keepsakes.You may regret it if you don’t, and you can always get rid of them later. Choose a few outfits with special sentimental value and set them aside, put them in a cedar chest, or otherwise store them so that you can come back to them some other time. Maybe somewhere down the road, you may consider hiring someone to incorporate some special pieces into a quilt. Or just keep them as mementos.
Now, define your two piles. One is for hand-me-downs, thrift store finds, and inexpensive onesies. Anything that is basically of little value beyond utility. The other pile is for your high-end stuff. Top brands like Carter’s go in this pile. Nice pajamas, onesies, dresses, special outfits. These are the ones which, if you choose to, help you recoup some of the cost.
Throw Away Baby Clothes
Anything that you found, while sorting your baby clothes, that has visibly bad stains, is damaged or torn, or is in any other way unsalvageable, just get rid of it. Toss it in the trash or recycle it for rages. There’s no sense in trying to do anything else with it.
Sell Baby Clothes
The most important thing to remember here is to temper your expectations. You are not going to get full market value and you should banish any notion that it is even remotely possible to get more than like 10% back.
That said, you have two main avenues for selling your baby clothes. You can sell it at a garage sale or you can consign it. Depending on where you live, consignment may not be as easy, but most middle-sized towns will have consignment stores.
If you decide to wait to sell it at a garage sale, just sort, bag, and store until you accumulate enough crap for a garage sale. Then understand that you should under no circumstances forget that most people shop at garage sales for deals. Unless it’s a particularly nice, special outfit (a fancy baby dress, fancy high-end french designer clothing, etc) you should never price any baby clothes at more than a dollar. In fact, most items should be somewhere in the 5-25 cent range. It is wildly unreasonable to expect anything more than that for any one piece. Consider bundling a bunch of clothes together for quick sales. Maybe 5-10 onesies for a couple bucks. Above all, keep everything organized and clearly priced and be willing to haggle. The standard rules apply for any garage sale items.
If you consign your clothes, your first step is to talk to your local consignment store and learn their rules. Every store will be different. But there are a few things you should want to keep in mind. One, consignment is a slow process. You might not sell anything for a long while, though you can typically get more for your baby clothes than you could at a garage and the tradeoff is the speed at which it can be sold.
Consignment stores like things organized, bagged, and labeled, because it saves them time and money. Bag them according to size, and type. In fact, some stores require it or they won’t accept your merchandise. Group together and rubber-band coordinated outfits as they will fetch a higher price, especially if they are a high-quality brand like Carter’s. [image: outfit.jpg]
With consignment, patience is key. Sometimes your clothes won’t even make it out the to display floor for a few weeks. But eventually, you should be able to drop in and collect money that has been deposited into your consignment account. Just be patient.
Give Away Baby Clothes
You will never get rich on baby clothes. On average, you will never get more than 5-7% of the original retail price of any particular item of clothing unless it’s particularly high-end product. So, you’re going to give some of it away. Here, there are two main options. If you have some particularly nice pieces that you don’t intend to sell or keep as mementos, consider gifting these special outfits or items to an expectant friend. We received some very cool hand-me-downs from friends and they were some of our favorite outfits. That said, do not use your friends as a dumping ground for all of your old baby clothes. You’re not doing them a favor; you’re just forcing them to inherit the chore that you didn’t want to do. Keep the gifts limited to special items.
The rest is off to Goodwill.
Many thrift stores accept donations, especially the ever-present thrift giant, Goodwill. Make sure that you understand their rules before dropping off your merchandise. They see a lot of clothes and sometimes they don’t accept it.
There are a couple of ways that you can go about this. If you don’t care about the tax write-off or know that there’s no way that it’s going to be enough of a donation to exceed the standard deduction on your taxes, then just drop it off and leave. But, if you think you’re going to itemize your deductions, then get a receipt. In fact, it might be worth your while to sort through and count up and estimate the value of all of your old baby clothes to go on your tax return. Here, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a closer-to-retail price in your valuation. Just make sure you document it thoroughly and get a receipt when you drop it off at Goodwill.
Goodwill accepts clothes by the bag and that is how it is listed on the receipt. Pro-tip: use smaller grocery bags instead of trash bags. The receipt only has the number of bags for tax purposes.
Getting rid of old baby clothes responsibly should be a part of raising any child. Get on the task early and expect to make three or four trips to the consignment store in the first year. Stay organized and be as thorough as you wish. The payoffs for the extra work might be worth it, but don’t think you’re going to be able to retire on your riches.