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How to Organize Your Baby Clothes

Baby clothes for newborn

Babies might be small, but their wardrobes can be surprisingly big thanks to doting friends and family. You’re probably wondering, “Where am I going to put all this stuff?” 

We recommend creating an organizational system before your baby arrives. Those early weeks will be filled with sleepless nights and newborn chaos, making you want quick access to the most important items.

Here are some easy tips to prevent baby’s wardrobe from taking over your house.

Don’t Wash Everything Right Away

The finish they put on new clothing can be irritating to a baby’s ultra-sensitive skin, which is why it’s recommended to wash everything.

This is sound advice, and you should wash your baby’s clothes before they wear them. However, you shouldn’t just dump everything into the washing machine right away. This will ruin your chances of making future returns. 

Chances are you won’t use a good portion of the clothes you receive, even if your baby is the king of spitting up or is a fountain of explosive poop. Babies grow fast, especially in those early months, leaving you with piles of untouched clothing.

Wash a few newborn outfits to have ready on hand. Then as your baby grows, you’ll have an idea of what size she’ll need next (keep in mind that some babies are born too big for size newborn, going straight to size 3-month clothing!).

Store gift receipts in a dedicated drawer, or even clip them to each outfit. Most stores have a generous return policy for gifts. In fact, you can easily return Amazon gifts without a receipt— contact customer service with the buyer’s email address (they’ll never know you returned the item unless they search your house).

Store Daily Use Stuff Within Reach

Wardrobe with clothes and necessities in baby room
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Think of your baby’s changing table as the center of the universe. How far can you step in any direction while keeping one hand on the baby? (Don’t rely on the changing table’s safety straps—most babies can Houdini-wriggle their way out of those). Keep plenty of essential options within reach, such as onesies and pants. Other items, like socks, sweaters, adorable dresses or tuxedoes, and shoes can be stored elsewhere.

Keep a hamper nearby for dirty clothes. Most babies will go through several outfits a day, based on their level of spit-up, drool, and other bodily functions. We recommend an open hamper so you can toss soiled items in basketball-style unless you have a toddler who likes to pull out dirty clothes and wear them on his head (this is not uncommon).

Maximize Closet Space

Hanging outfits, shirts, dresses, and jackets in the closet is a great way to see what’s available quickly. Buy size dividers to separate clothing sizes (or make your own).

Consider adding another closet rod for hanging multiple levels of clothes. Use clothespins to clip pants or tights to matching shirts or dresses. Add layers of shelves if possible, utilizing every available inch of space. This basket storage system, designed by Bethany of Reality Daydream, is easy to install and perfect for storing socks, bibs, shoes, and more. You just need some simple cup hooks and small crates.

Take advantage of the closet door, too. There are vertical door rackswhich allow you to add baskets, containers, and shelves. Another popular option is door hanging organizers, which are great for storing hair ties and bows, extra diapers, and containers of wipes, shoes, hairbrushes, and hats.

Understand Sizing

Baby sizing can be confusing and inconsistent between brands. Some manufacturers list sizes by range, such as 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and 6-9 months. This gives you an idea of the overall time span for that outfit.

However, certain brands simply state one number, like “12 months.” Does that mean it’s for 9-12 months or 12-18 months? The general rule is that the single number indicates the end of the wearing range. So if an outfit says “12 months,” you can assume that it will fit an average 9-12-month-old baby.

Keep in mind that sizing descriptions are a rough guideline. Every baby is different and will grow at varying rates. Don’t be alarmed if your 9-month-old baby is still wearing size 6-month clothing; if his pediatrician says he’s healthy, then ignore what the label says. 

Here’s a quick reference for organizing clothes based on size:

  • Category 1: Sizes Newborn, 0-3 months, 3 months
  • Category 2: Sizes 3-6 months, 6 months
  • Category 3: Sizes 6-9 months, 6-12 months, 9 months, 9-12 months, 12 months (these sizes all tend to be very similar)
  • Category 4: Sizes 12-18 months, 18 months
  • Category 5: Sizes 18-24 months, 24 months, 2T

Think About Seasons

1 year old wearing knitted autumn clothes sitting in park

If you’re having a summer baby and someone gifts you a bunch of winter clothes sized for a three-month-old, the chances are that your baby will be too big by then (since this size typically fits babies up to three months old). Hang on to them just in case, but be prepared to return them (and use the funds to buy appropriately sized winter clothes).

You can also divide items by season. For example, put all swimsuits in one storage bin, with fleece layers going in another container—regardless of size. That way, when summer hits, you can pull out the summer bin and see which swimsuit fits. One might fit at the start of summer, and another might fit better by the end of summer.

Using Storage Bins

Your baby will outgrow clothes very quickly in the early months. If you’re done having babies, then set up a donation bin in the closet to toss the outgrown clothes. If you’re considering future kids, you can have a dedicated “too small” bin, sorting items into permanent storage bins when it’s full. Also, include a “too big” bin or hamper for clothes that are in your child’s current age range, but tend to run big. 

We recommend labeling bins with reusable labels and chalkboard markers—this way you can change descriptions quickly. Avoid storing empty containers. For example, if your baby is now wearing size 12-18 month clothes, fill up that bin with the previous size. 

Underbed storage bags are a great way to save on space. Use ones with a clear plastic top so you can easily recognize what’s inside. This is perfect if you receive a lot of hand-me-downs from an older relative or friend, such as an entire 3T wardrobe.

Organize Dressers

Consider painting your baby’s dresser with chalkboard paint so you can easily label what’s inside each drawer (this will also help babysitters find outfits).

Use drawer dividers and baskets to keep clothes from tangling together. Here are our recommended categories:

  • Short-sleeve onesies/shirts
  • Long-sleeve onesies/shirts
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Pants/tights
  • Shorts
  • Pajamas
  • Socks

You can also dedicate one dresser drawer to the next size or season, so those clothes are ready to go when your baby hits that next growth spurt (it happens way faster than you’d think!).

Keeping on top of your baby’s extensive wardrobe will make life easier once the baby arrives. Remember to save those gift receipts since babies outgrow those early outfits fast. And definitely ask for clothes in older sizes, such as 18 months and 2T. Often friends and relatives don’t think of these sizes when shopping for a baby shower, but they are just as crucial as the itty bitty baby outfits.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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