Reader Question: How control pre-baby clutter?

Reader Zoe recently sent us the following question:

I’m expecting my first baby in December and I’m already worried about the impending cloud of clutter. My husband is unfortunately not devoted to de-cluttering like I am, so I suspect there will be struggles even between the two of us, not to mention the grandparents! I would love to see a post from you guys about how to deal with/prevent baby clutter before the baby even arrives. Has anyone created a list of baby clutter rules, for instance?

I currently have seven close friends who are pregnant and all of them have asked me versions of this question continuously over the course of the past eight months. So, to put it mildly, I have given this question a great deal of thought.

First things first, if you’re blessed to have generous friends and family, you need to accept that people will want to give you things. If you beg and plead with people not to give you things, they will either ignore you or get mad at you. It’s best just to come to terms with the fact that there will be stuff — and that it will probably be lots and lots of stuff.

This doesn’t mean that you need to throw in the towel and sit idly by while your home fills with baby clutter. You can be proactive and keep clutter out of your home with just a few actions on your part.

  1. Create a wish list. There are practical things that you will need when the baby comes: diapers, a car seat, a stroller and crib, for example. Research through Consumer Reports the safest products, learn about product features through reviews on websites with active communities, and go to baby stores to find what you like about what you see. Be an informed consumer and create a list of essential products that fit your needs. When your family or friends ask you what you need, show them your list. Let them know about the research you’ve done and why you have picked the specific products on your list. If you don’t find registries offensive (I don’t), then put these items on a registry — but ONLY put these essential items and nothing else. It’s best to have your list prepared before you go to the baby store so that you aren’t tempted to add extraneous items. Explain to your family and friends that these are the items you need, and people will gravitate toward them. (Tomorrow I’ll write a post about what I believe are these essential items.)
  2. Buy as you need, not in anticipation. Beyond the bare bones items, avoid buying (or acquiring through Freecycle or Craigslist) anything until you need it. People with children will give you a constant stream of advice that begins with the phrase, “You just HAVE to have …” Until your child arrives and you grow to understand his or her preferences, you won’t have any idea if your child really has to have specific things. Your neighbor’s child may have loved the vibrating child carrier, but yours might hate it. Their must-have items may very well be clutter in your home. Also, don’t buy any clothes or toys ahead of time, you’ll very likely receive lots of these as gifts.
  3. Don’t agree to a shower or only agree to a shower with a theme. You don’t have to have a baby shower. If you don’t want one, then don’t have one. If you’re okay with the idea of having one or have a super-excited family member chomping at the bit to throw you one, then ask for the shower to have a theme. Guests can bring their favorite childhood books or everyone can bring a pack of diapers. If you’re adopting, have a shower where you ask guests to bring gifts for the orphanage or foster care services, and give the presents to children who haven’t yet found homes. I’ve also heard of pamper the parents parties being a huge hit for keeping baby clutter at bay.
  4. Return unwanted items for wanted items. Products you don’t want that were purchased in stores can be returned. There is no law saying that you have to keep something you don’t want. Build up a store credit to help you purchase the items you really need.
  5. Donate unwanted items to charity or sell on Craigslist or eBay. If you receive four blankets, give two away to someone who needs/wants them.
  6. Don’t open items until you need them. It will be a lot easier to return items in their original packaging if you haven’t opened, assembled, and then dismantled the boxes.
  7. Immediately store items for when your child is older. You’ll inevitably receive items that you want to keep but that your child can’t play with or wear until he or she is older. Have inboxes ready to go in your nursery for these pieces. A plastic box labeled “clothes” and another labeled “toys” will provide you with space to immediately store these items out of the way.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I’ll present my bare bones item list.

38 Comments for “Reader Question: How control pre-baby clutter?”

  1. posted by Rue on

    I’m definitely a fan of registries! Make sure you have items (that you need) in all price ranges. This way you can ensure that people will be able to afford something on it if they want to get you a gift, and you’ll get things that you want/need. Definitely keep those gift receipts until you use the item though! It’s much easier to return items that way. And check the store’s return policy – some can use your registry as a receipt, but some require the original receipt or a gift receipt.

    I’ve found that if you have a registry, most people will use it. We had three wedding registries and all our gifts except one were from the registry, gift cards to one of the stores we were registered at, or straight up cash.

    Of course, you may still end up with other “gifts” (aka, things your friends/relatives used for their kids and no longer need). But the nice thing about those is if you don’t want them, you can always donate them or pass them along. ;)

  2. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Rue — I agree that a registry can be a good idea, but do not select items to go on it based on price. Put items you need on it that are safe and nothing else. If the items are too expensive, people will buy your future child clothing. Tomorrow on Unclutterer, we’ll have a post about what are the essential items you may want to put on a registry.

  3. posted by Justin Fleming on

    Main thing is not to panic. On the first child, you can easily buy anything and everything ‘just in case’. But real life plays out differently and you learn as you go.

    As the advice says – ‘Buy as you need, not in anticipation’.
    You mostly learn this on the second child and find you don’t buy have the gear that you did on your first.

    Take time considering buggies for starters – treat it like buying a car. Think long term, child growth etc.

    I also only just realised that baby-branded clutter like cutlery, plates etc are all pointless. You pay extra for the cartoon branding, they are smaller (causing a learner fork driver to push all food off the plate) and often hold in the heat of the food. Adult plates cool food quicker and allow enough space to take a good run-up with a fork without flying off the edge.

    Try and avoid baby cups (when a little old) and train kids early to use real cups. To avoid messes – only put a little in the cup at a time.

    Many toys are rendered useless until the child develops sufficient imagination and ability. ‘Baby’ toys which we got 3yrs+ ago, are only NOW being played with! (oh and our kids aren’t slow btw :))

  4. posted by shris on

    Hi.

    If people want to give you gifts and help, do NOT turn it down. Just figure out what will actually HELP you, and then tell them what that is.

    If people want to give you diapers and wipes, accept them. Stick them on a high shelf in the baby’s room so they’re out of the way til you need them.

    If you will be bottle feeding (even with your own pumped milk), you might like to try a variety of bottles the first month or so, and line someone up to buy you a supply of the kind baby ends up liking. Ask the person to give you a ‘coupon’ for baby bottles that you can ‘redeem’ from them after the baby is born.

    The ‘coupon’ idea can be expanded to include services, like occasional babysitting or help with a meal or dishes or laundry or whatever you need.

    Accept all the help you are offered, and then shape that desire to help into the things or services you need the most.

    As a mother of twin pre-schoolers, I can tell you that unless you’re using cloth diapers, you WILL use up all the diapers and wipes people want to give you. You WILL use up all the diaper cream and baby wash and baby Tylenol. You WILL want several quick-read thermometers, because they always seem to go missing when you want them and you’ll want one for rectal and another for other body parts.

    On the Registry, put in what you desperately need–not all the ‘gravy’ items. If you desperately desire the matching set of ladybug linens, then go for it–but remember there will always be unbought stuff on your registry after the parties are over and the baby is born. So think about whether you really need ladybug linens instead of the more essential items on your list. And you will always get stuff that wasn’t on the registry and isn’t from your favorite store. So you don’t have to put down specific clothing requests, for example.

    Things you’ll get that you didn’t ask for: Toys, clothes, bibs, diapers, wipes.. I got a basket of medicines I never ended up using–suppositories(?!?), menthol rub, etc. We got gifts from remote relatives we hadn’t seen in 25 years, friends of grandparents.. Many people didn’t buy from the registry, but we used almost everything we got. We didn’t put a lot of ‘gravy’ items on the registry, and so we got about everything we needed and not much we didn’t need.

    High shelves in baby’s room are a big help. We had an enormous wardrobe with a locking door, a small closet, and a bookshelf in the kids’ room as well as two cribs with stuff stored underneath, and a changing table. We had stuff piled on top of the bookshelf and the wardrobe and everything was stuffed with all it could hold. But it was totally worth it having the stuff because it was all essentials and every bit of it got used. I still have a sack of clothes that are too big for my son, carefully stored in the closet for next year or the year after, whenever he grows into them.

    More important than keeping stuff out of your house to begin with is getting rid of it when you’re done using it. We keep a designated spot for the donations and we seem to get them out of the house a couple times a year–that includes outgrown clothing, toys, and any of our other stuff that needs to go (adult clothing, unused kitchen stuff, etc.). You *WILL* have stuff coming in the house, regardless of whether you wanted that volume of stuff, so you need a plan for getting rid of it. You can consign to get some money out of the stuff, or donate for the tax benefits, or pass it along to family and friends, or sell it in a yard sale or on ebay or whatever. Just try to plan it out and execute your plan a couple times a year.

    The first year, your child will change complete wardrobes four times or so, and about twice a year thereafter depending on the seasons in your area. If you don’t get the stuff gone as soon as your child quits wearing it, it will overrun you. Toys have a longer lifespan if you let them, so they stack up even faster than clothes.

    I agree with the advice about gadgets to a point–that is, holding off until you determine whether your child likes the item. However, from our own experience we discovered that even if the child doesn’t like the item today, they might like it next week. What doesn’t work to stop the crying right now might still be worth trying tomorrow. So bouncy seats and swings and the stand-up play stations, etc. might be worth having around for a little while so you can try it under different circumstances. Just depends on whether you’ve got room to have patience. If not, skip it. These things didn’t exist 100 years ago and children still survived. :)

    shris

  5. posted by Justin Fleming on

    Oh basically, don’t fall for sentimentalism-inspired consumerism. Buy what you need, not what they sell to you.

  6. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    This is great advice (and I appreciate the previous comments too). As someone who plans to start a family next year, I can use all the advice/help I can get! :)

  7. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    If you’re planning on having more than one child, keep the best clothes in bins labeled by size (0-3 months etc). It will make it a lot easier for baby #2 and up (or for passing onto your sister/sister-in-law).

  8. posted by Sarah on

    My parents-in-law gave us a wonderful gift for the birth of our twins – life insurance. No clutter, and if something should happen to one or both of us, the survivors will be financially secure.

    I love to give gifts that don’t add clutter. For instance, at a baby shower, give a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure to the mommy-to-be.

    Another FANTASTIC gift for expectant parents is a gift certificate to a professional house cleaning service. A few people could chip in on this gift.

    My babes were born just before Christmas, so everyone wanted to visit while they were off work. A house cleaning would have been perfect.

  9. posted by Eden on

    I registered with both my pregnancies and most people ignored the registry. And forget about gift cards; people love buying tiny things. If it’s clothing, you might be surprised how many outfits a newborn goes through in a day. And blankets, I could never have enough (especially for my son, who was born in December).

    I think the keys to baby clutter are (1) knowing that you will need more than you might realize and (2) knowing that it’s entirely possible to store it neatly. There are a LOT of useful, realistic storage helpers out there for closets, changing areas, etc.

    My advice is to get your storage in place and then use it. My favorite storage was having two large plastic drawers under the crib (when the baby is new, you have the crib mattress raised and there’s nice storage under there).

    As for toys, newborns don’t need many toys. A mobile, a crib musical toy like Fisher Price’s “aquarium” will do. Board books are nice to have as well and take up minimal space. You will need things for “tummy time” in the spring. I like the mats that fold flat when not in use. Storage ottomans or coffee tables are great for toy storage. You don’t need a lot that first year and luckily there won’t be an onslaught of birthday/Christmas gifts for another year ;)

    One thing not to avoid just b/c it takes up some space: a bouncy seat. You can take baby with you anywhere you need to go, they’re cozy and babies love them. They’ll give you some free time and peace of mind (and some fold flat and they resell well).

  10. posted by Stephanie on

    I’ve had fourteen friends become pregnant over the course of the past year. Seeing the amount of stuff they get at showers makes me twitch. I’m starting to think I’ll never have kids just because I won’t be able to handle my house being taken over by Elmos and other baby paraphernalia.

  11. posted by Rue on

    @Erin: I meant put essential items that are in different price ranges. Some people might want to register at a super-exclusive store where everything is like $200 or something. The likelihood of getting many things from that registry is not good, so people would either buy something that’s not on the registry (and you therefore might not need/want) or nothing at all. Choosing things that you NEED that are AFFORDABLE will help your family/friends, that’s all I meant. :)

  12. posted by Marisa on

    I have a 10 month old and we had a mountain of stuff for the baby before he was even born. I have a couple of thoughts…
    First, we were inundated with blankets. I guess people think December baby = blankets. Some were pretty generic and those are easy for me to let go. However, relatives came out of the woodwork to give us blankets – two beautiful crocheted blankets and two beautiful hand sewn quilts.
    Second, with toys (like the exersaucer, etc.) we took the approach that when the baby was ready for these items, we would consider them. We also take the approach that we look for 2 in 1 items – like the push toy that becomes a riding toy. We also look at re-sale shops to try to find some deals.
    Third, to help avoid some of the licensed character toys and items, we basically told our families that we were concerned about chemicals and wanted things that were as natural as possible. We suggested a few great toy websites that have toys that are made in Europe or the U.S. Luckily our family members seem to respect our desire to give our son limited classic, generic and safe toys. Plus, when other people give us toys, I don’t have any attachment to the item and it is easy to put the toy in the donate pile.

  13. posted by Rebecca on

    Hi, I’m a long time reader, first time mother (son born on the first of the year).

    We’ve been fortunate to have many of our friends have babies around the same age as ours, and thus we end up borrowing their Big Stuff – bouncers, swingy chairs, jumperoos, etc. – which our youngin’ can play with and then we can GIVE IT BACK when we’re done with it. Oh, that is the best part.

    We bought a bassinet that turns into a crib that turns into a toddler bed, a car seat that becomes a toddler seat, a high chair that turns in to a regular chair, and a stroller that works for infants as well as toddlers. Yes, they all cost more money, but we’ll use those same items for years and can spend our money on the zoo instead.

    Some cities also have businesses that can rent you the big stuff. Some of the bigger items you wouldn’t need more than a few months anyway. Here’s an example: http://www.crybabycomforts.com/

    When it comes down to it, your baby needs the same thing that Sacagawea’s baby had: a mother. The rest is details.

    But I’m sure Sacagawea would have enjoyed a good-sized, rugged diaper bag in a color that Mr. Sacagawea wouldn’t mind being seen carrying.

    Congratulations! And take lots of pictures! It really does go by SO fast.

  14. posted by Megan on

    Erin… you’re making us wait until TOMORROW?!? Ugh. I guess I will save my rant of “You just HAVE to have…” a baby swing. :)

    The thing we passed on for our #1 was all of that baby bedding (even though it is soooo dreamy). We got some white sheets for easy cleaning. I also went to a local art gallery and bought a real mobile with some fun colors. But this is mostly because I’m afraid of wind-up musical mobiles (kind of like some people fear clowns).

  15. posted by Jill on

    I’m the proud mama of a six month old determined not to be overwhelmed by useless baby items! My advice is:

    1. Resist the urge to buy things – you’ll probably end up getting them as gifts.

    2. Sign up for myregistry.com. You can put anything from any website on the registry, and people can buy from those sites, or anywhere else and mark them “purchased”.

    3. Keep focused on the fact that other than a car seat (because its the law) the only thing the baby really needs is you. Everything else is just for fun or added convenience.

  16. posted by Alisa on

    For new parents, if you don’t get enough newborn outfits from family and friends, you need to buy them before the baby arrives. Buy second hand if you can since you’ll use them for only a short period. I didn’t know there was a difference between newborn clothes and 0-3 months clothes. My first child was small so we didn’t have anything that fit her. Not good in the middle of winter! Plus, newborns and babies spit up and poop a lot and you might not feel like doing laundry for few days after you give birth so it’s nice to have a number of outfits.
    I’m pregnant with my second child and want to hit the ground running, so to speak, this time. I’ve given a lot of thought to clothes and toy storage. I think that if you can access the baby stuff you have then things go a lot smoother.

  17. posted by Another Deb on

    Ok, this column is perfect for me, a middle-aged, childless auntie and now, great-auntie! I never know what to get the new baby and only yesterday bolted directly for the gift card section of the Babies-R-Them store for the two I am gifting this month.

    Now- how about some ideas for decluttering a teen-ager’s brain? It seems like the 8th grade brain is already full by the time they get to my class!

  18. posted by Gabriel on

    The reader’s specific question isn’t about baby clutter, it’s about pre-baby clutter. As the father of a 6 month old, I can tell you that the pre-baby clutter doesn’t even come close to post-baby messes. Before baby, they’re temporary, relatively small, and largely unavoidable.

    My suggestion centers on getting what you want and what you need. Most replies have suggested avoiding stuff because it’s only convenient, not necessary.

    Those convenient items – the swings, play gyms, exersaucers – are what saves our sanity on many days. Buy what you want and get rid of items you don’t. But don’t constrain yourself to the advice of others (including mine).

  19. posted by Kris on

    I can’t emphasize this enough. Get gift receipts. Most places will not accept any kind of returns anymore without a receipt, even if the item is on your registry. I ended up re-gifting many items to a cousin because I couldn’t use the things we were given and I had no way to return them.

  20. posted by Danielle on

    Thank you so much for starting this conversation! My husband and I are expecting our first baby in January, and between my excited parents and my very generous in-laws we’re swimming in gifts and “must-haves.” Thanks for the advice!

  21. posted by Shari on

    As a soon to be second-time mama, I have another tip that has yet to be mentioned. Even if you know the coming baby’s sex, try hard to stick to neutral colors (in your registry and personal purchases) whenever possible — especially in the big-ticket items. My first was a girl, and everything seems to be available in adorable pink/floral patterns – strollers, car seats, nursery furniture, high chairs, etc. etc. Now that I’m having a boy the second time around I am so glad I resisted most of this. (Just have fun with the clothes and cheap/easy to change accessories.) This may not help control the immediate clutter, but if you have more children, it will definitely help your budget and allow you to ultimately consume much less.

    Also, I must agree with many earlier posts that said to some degree you just need to make peace with all this. Before my first, I too was very concerned with my home being overrun with baby stuff, but in the end that really was the least of my concerns. Children bring chaos into our lives on much more than a physical level, so you will have plenty of time to try and work out systems to “control” all this — just try not miss out on any of the joy in the meantime.

    Good luck!

  22. posted by LW Jerbi on

    This is a really loaded question–mostly because I was faced with the stillbirth of one of our twins almost 18 years ago. It was my first pregnancy and I had been showered upon several times over…and LOTS of TWO of everything. I did save it all, knowing that someday I would donate it somewhere. Two more children were born, and I had saved everything in bins by size…as noted above. Once I knew I was done with the birthing babies routine, I donated it ALL to a pregnancy/mothering crisis center near me. I did save a few items of clothing, from each of the three kids, mostly because they were too cute or given to me by a dear departed family member or friend.

    Toys ARE the main source of all clutter with kids. I allowed only one laundry basket of toys per child in the house per day. (5 people, 920 sq.ft house) Now that the kids are teens, LEGO reigns in the bedroom of my son (youngest) and the girls, high schoolers, both have too much homework to play much.

    Bottom Line: You can control the clutter, I used a bag system on the floor of the closet. Once the bag was filled with outgrown/out of season clothes, I would pack it up in a bin and store it, knowing that the next child could make use of it. When I was PG with #3, and knew it was a boy, after 2 girls, I looked more to solid color T-shirts, pants and shorts, so that hand me downs would be okay for the little guy to wear when the time came.
    the

  23. posted by mbm on

    We borrowed as much as possible, on the theory that when baby is done with it, it can go back to its rightful home!

  24. posted by Lisa on

    Divide and box (and LABEL) clothing by size. Really don’t be afraid to store some baby things if you think you might have more children – ESPECIALLY the gender neutral stuff. You are going to get clothing for babies up to a year as presents. It is cost-effective to store baby things if you plan on having more soon, since you won’t get the volume of gifts the second time around.

    Also, I agree with a previous comment that you don’t know what your child will like until it gets here. You may turn up your nose at the wet wipe warmer until it’s 2am and January in a Chicago-area house with astronomical heating bills!

    Donations to battered women’s/family abuse shelters are always appreciated.

    And box up and store the toys in 1 month rotations. Keeps them fresh, and when the perfect toy disappears, you know which one is really valued. Then you can “find” it.

  25. posted by Ann on

    First and foremost, thank you for this thread. We’re expecting our first in May. Because we’re older, darling friends and family are already coming out of the woodwork with offers.

    Which brings me to my quandry: for those who borrowed clothing (baby or maternal), toys, equipment, how did you ensure the things were returned to the rightful owner? Did you have a system for keeping track of who gave what? Did anything end up so well used or “loved” that the item wasn’t really in returnable condition? If so – how was that handled?

    I’m already facing at least three loving sources of clothing, one of whom definitely wants another pregnancy, one of whom probably does, and one of whom might.

  26. posted by hkw on

    This might be too late for you, but not finding out the gender of our child helped a lot! We got fewer overly precious items, and all of our baby clothes can now be reused if we have a second child, whether a boy or girl.

    Also, a registry is wonderful, especially if you load it up with practical things. (Don’t forget you can include clutter control items like baskets and photo albums!) Perhaps the best gift I got was one friend’s offer to set up my registry for me and put all of her must-have items on it, then hand over the password. If you’re not so lucky, along with the gear reviews Erin mentioned, Consumer Reports has a list of bare bones essentials, right down to the number of snap tees you need. Don’t be afraid to put big things on the registry and ask friends or family to work together. For one shower, several friends joined forces and bought us our stroller/carseat combo, which was one of our most expensive purchases and best-used items. Same could go for a crib or a beautiful rocker you really love.

    Alternately, I’ve held or been to baby showers where everyone brings homemade frozen food instead of gifts, bought a savings bond for the baby, or where we supplied fabric paint and plain white onesies for everyone to decorate.

    As for dealing with the clutter, plan for it now while your nesting instict is kicking in! I wallpapered the (blessedly large) closet in my son’s room, lined it with shelves and filled them with baskets to hold bathing items, diapers, blankets, and bottles. The upper shelves hold plastic bins with too-big or outgrown clothes. One wall of his room has two giant bookshelves, and smaller baskets went there to hold onesies, sleep shirts and bibs. Now those small catch-alls hold socks, underpants and small toys, and the big ones hold extra wipes or swimming gear. Instead of a changing table, we used an old dresser, which means two big drawers for clothes and a smaller one for medicine, diaper creams, thermometers. I bought a $20 diaper organizer that hangs off one end and we’re still using 2 years later. Even the crib has a storage drawer underneath to hold sheets and blankets.

    Don’t forget to start a binder with slide-in plastic sheets to hold all the manuals for all the stuff you’ll end up with! I didn’t figure that one out until about 18 months in. A small box to hold extra parts like the pins to hold the tray on the stroller is also helpful, as is a box for all those cards and souvenirs you figure you’ll eventually put in the baby book; in the meantime, they’ll be safe and in one place.

    Finally, let yourself have a little fun! Yes, you’ll get more blankets, washcloths and bibs than anyone can ever use. My son has dozens of blankets, for example. But now he’s two, and his favorite is one I registered for — despite feeling it was a little frivolous — just because it was so cute and soft. You’re only a first-time mom once, so enjoy it!

  27. posted by Shari on

    Ann – If my donors do not label the clothes before handing them over, I do so as soon as I get them – just a single initial with a permanent Sharpie on one of the tags does the trick. I don’t think anyone minds this, as they’re just happy to get things back. Also keep a journal/spreadsheet of larger/non-markable items.

    You will likely end up with some clothes that are not returned in as good as condition as they were given. My strategy is just to gift generously with new outfits for the donors older child or next baby.

  28. posted by Lucy on

    We’ve inherited a lot of the essential baby gear as hand-me-downs from the cousins. While it’d be nice to have new stuff, it feels good to “reduce, reuse, recycle”. :) And as we outgrow things, we’ll pass them on to whichever family member or friend gets pregnant next.

    So instead of setting up a typical baby registry at BabiesRUs and accumulating unnecessary material clutter, we set up a gift registry at CBR to enable our friends and family help defray the expense of banking our baby’s cord blood. (We initially thought cord blood banking was out of our price range, but the contributions we received in our CBR gift registry as well as a $250 coupon from
    http://cord-blood-banking-coupon.com made it possible.)

    This is how we deflected some of the pre-baby clutter from entering our home to begin with. Best wishes doing the same, Zoe.

  29. posted by Eden on

    HKW has a good tip with the sex of the baby. We found out with our first but just didn’t tell anyone. Same effect ;)

    And really, registries DO NOT stop people from buying things you don’t need — and those people aren’t always good with getting gift receipts either. So don’t depend on that.

  30. posted by Rebecca on

    I’ve never gotten so many presents that I had no interest in using than when I’ve had baby showers.

    Baby sleep positioners? Rhinestone studded pacifiers? 500 blankets? It’s amazing.

    Just hope that there’s a gift receipt in the bottom of that bag, I guess.

  31. posted by Adrienne on

    I asked for $ for my kids college accounts (529). For the first few birthdays and xmas as well (a 1 yr old is just as happy opening an empty box).

    $ for college will be much more usefull than another outfit. If I ever do give a new mom an outfit I try to make it a bigger size (nothing like have a million 3month pieces and zero in 6months…)

  32. posted by Liz BK on

    I’ve found zwaggle.com really useful for getting rid of things my 1-year-old has outgrown, and for finding gently used things we need.

  33. posted by Don Marti on

    Baby blankets: if you don’t want to do laundry daily, you will need a bunch of the thin, simple, inexpensive kind, for swaddling and getting baby messes on. On the high end, if you get a handmade blanket as a gift, that’s great for photo ops and keeping the baby warm later. But the midrange blankets, too thick to tie off for swaddling, didn’t really get much use around here.

    You don’t need a crib on day 1 if you get a co-sleeper (they fold up.)

    Babies start out light, so you might not need to wheel a new one around. Our youngest is 5mo. and hasn’t been in a stroller yet — just slings, a Baby Bjorn, and car seat.

  34. posted by Sarah C on

    We kept as much out of the house as possible. Anything that wouldn’t be used within the next three months was safely stored in the garage (in large rubbermaid boxes or the original boxes). Once the baby was born, I found we were done with some “necessities” within weeks. So they went out to the garage as well. Often if it’s a large and bulky item you should consider saving the original box for future storage.

    We stored extra diapers and wipes under the crib hidden by the crib skirt. And I also kept a three large bags on the floor of Aubrey’s closet. Each was labeled “donate”, “save”, or “return to lender”. Then once the bag was full, the clothes went to their permanent resting place…

    Finally be VERY selective about the things you keep for sentimental reasons. We will accumulate a TON over the years so I don’t save every card, stuffed animal…blah blah blah. Let it go.

  35. posted by Vina on

    Great suggestions! Good items to include in a baby registry: books. You’ll be looking at them with your baby before you know it and some of the board books can be spendy.

  36. posted by EngineerMom on

    I totally agree with this post. When I got pregnant, my husband and I were living (and still are living!) in a 700-square foot 1-bedroom apartment. We did NOT have space for any extra baby stuff beyond the basics. We repurposed a chest of drawers (that previously held my crafting supplies, which I sorted through and either stored or got rid of) as a changing table, got rid of a lot of extra stuff that I was keeping around for crafting to make room for a Pack’n’Play, and kept repeating that we really didn’t need anything beyond the few basics (carseat, booster-seat-style high chair, etc.).

    My mother-in-law really wanted to throw me a baby shower, so I consented, and everything I received was emminently useful, as all the attendees were experienced Moms! Out of everything we received, only two blankets and a couple of bottles of baby wash (we discovered he’s mildly allergic to Johnson products) have been regifted to others.

    Request books instead of toys, especially for first children. You can buy tons of second-hand toys for practically nothing, but books are harder to clean and find in good condition.

  37. posted by Making room: A mom-to-be’s story - Simpler Living - timesunion.com - Albany NY on

    [...] great advice on preparing for parenthood while controlling clutter, see this new post from Unclutterer. Posted in Saving [...]

  38. posted by Courtney on

    With my son (now 14 months), we were also showered with tons of clothes and gifts. The one thing I would say is to understand that your life will be really cluttered for the first year or so and then you can gradually weed things out. For example, I’d rather have given up a kidney than my exersaucer for months 4-11. However, my son was way over the height limit by the time he was 11 months old so at that point it technically became “clutter.” It is currently stored in our garage until and if we have a second child. If we do not or when the second child is done with it, it goes. So, basically, prepare yourself for clutter until you’re done with a childhood stage which will vary with the number of kids you’re having. Once you are truly past taht stage, be ruthless with the clutter.

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