The Old Switcheroo: Organizing Kid’s Clothing

Annabelle’s first winter hat had magical powers.  As soon as you placed it on her head, no matter what she was doing, laughing, crying, babbling, she would immediately stop and put her two middle fingers in her mouth and settle in for sleep.  I don’t know what it was about that hat, but it calmed her.  So much so that I even took to putting it on her in the house when I was desperate and couldn’t get her to settle down.  And it always worked.  Every.  Single.  Time.  I tell you, magic.

This winter when I tried it on her, for a blissful moment I thought it fit…and then slowly it started riding up her head until it formed a point making her look a little like an elf.  I couldn’t believe how much she had grown.

Yes, it’s that time again.  Sigh.  Time for me to switch up Annabelle’s closet.  Time to put away the things that no longer fit…sniff…and hang up all her pretty new things.  It’s always bittersweet for me.  I love hanging up all the new tiny outfits that I can’t wait to put her in, but it is so sad to pack up things she will never fit in again.  I always do a little walk down memory lane, holding up little outfits to a usually playing Annabelle. “Aw!  Remember when you wore this?” or ”Oooohhh, I loved this one on you.” A few tears are usually shed.  I’m a complete and utter sap.

I remember when Annabelle was first born getting mostly Newborn and 0-3 Month clothing…but there were a few wise gift givers that knew that the well of gifts runs dry and that later on you’d appreciate the odd 12-month outfit.  In particular I remember getting this cozy pink number from my parent’s neighbors.  With it was a card that read, “Every girl needs a pink outfit.”  I remember unwrapping it and thinking “This is ENORMOUS!  Annabelle will NEVER be this big.”  Sigh.

Before The Belle arrived I bought plastic storage bins for the clothes I knew would be arriving once the baby got here.  I labeled the bins “Newborn/0-3 Months”, “3-6 Months”, “6-9 Months”, “9-12 Months” and “12 Months +”.  Once she arrived, as gifts came in, I put them in the appropriate bins.  I quickly learned, however, that bins alone weren’t enough to keep the piles of clothing manageable.  So, I worked out a system to keep her ever-growing and changing wardrobe in order.

Like adult clothing, children’s clothing sizes don’t seem to be the same from brand to brand.  Because of this I like to keep two “sets” of sizes out in her closet at all times.  (i.e 0-3 Months and 3-6 Months).  Before I started doing this, there were a few times when I would unpack an outfit and it would already be too small on her, even though it claimed to be the size she currently wore.  It always made me so sad…such a waste of an adorable something she would never get to wear.   Hence, the two sets of sizes.

Annabelle’s closet has two clothing rods, so I can hang each set on a separate bar.  Then, within each size I keep like items together (shirts with shirts, dresses with dresses, etc.). Then on the floor of her closet I keep the bins for both sets of sizes.  As she grows out of items, I place them immediately in the correct bin (after washing them if needed).  When I find that the smaller sized set of clothing is dwindling down to a few pieces, I know it is time to bring up the next bin of one-size-up clothing.  I then pack up the last remaining pieces of clothing from the size she is saying goodbye to, and bring the bin down to storage.  (In the future, if we have another little girl I’ll pull out the bins to go through for her.  If not, I will go through each bin and keep the pieces that illicit the most “aww’s” and “remember whens”, and then pass the rest on to friends or donate them.)

Yesterday, as I was folding up the things to pack away, Annabelle was “helping.”  I would fold something and place it in the bin and she would grab it and throw it out all without taking her eyes off the next pile of goodies to grab and throw.  It definitely made the switch go slower, but it certainly made it more entertaining.

Here Are A Few Quick Tips For Keeping Your Child’s Clothing In Order:

1. Use Labeled Storage Bins:  Divide clothing by size and label each bin.  Make sure to put the labels on the side facing out so that when stacked you can easily read them.  On the label should be: Your child’s name if you have (or plan to have) more than one, the size of the clothing, and the season of the clothing in the bin.

Annabelle’s Clothing

0-3 Months

Summer/Early Fall

2. Keep Out Two Sets of Clothing: It stinks to have your child outgrow something before they even get the chance to wear it.  So keep two sets of clothing, and the bins they came in, out.  As they outgrow items toss them in the bin they came in.  You will easily be able to see when it’s time to bring in a new larger set of clothing.

3. Divide Clothing By Size: Keep each set of sizes together either by putting each set on a separate rod, or by using dividers. Etsy has some really cute ones.

4. Group Like Items: Keeping like items together (i.e. pants with pants, tank tops with tank tops) not only makes the closet look neat and streamlined, but it’s easier to pick out an outfit quickly with only one free arm.

5. Uniform Hangers:  A quick way to make your child’s (and your!) closet look more orderly is to invest in hangers.  You’d be amazed how much nicer a closet with uniform hangers (even plastic ones!) can look.

As I was packing up all the things Annabelle has outgrown, she wanted to put them on.  I tried explaining that they were too small now, but she insisted.  “Shirt on, please mommy, please!”  She looked like a pint-sized Incredible Hulk walking around her bedroom, busting out of her super tight t-shirt.

So, how you keep your child’s clothing in order?  Any tips or tricks for keeping the piles of clothing from taking over?

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  1. Illanna says:

    I’m going to pat myself on the back and say this is something I have actually kept up with. The bins always go on sale at target after Christmas so that’s the best time to buy them. Right after Desi was born my doula came over and organized Desi’s first batch of clothes for me. She said “organizing the clothes is a full time job!” … She has 7 kids. All different sizes. Every time I go through Desi’s clothes I can’t help but think of her. And now I’ll think of the Annabelle Hulk too!

  2. How amazing of your doula to organize Desi’s clothes…SEVEN kids…Wow. Clearly she knows what she’s doing!!

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