A baby needs a lot of stuff. Not exactly breaking news, right, parents?
Cribs. Changing tables. Strollers. Toys. Baby clothes. All of these items seem to be outdated after a couple months as Junior grows and grows.
Who has the storage space for all of that? When you’re living in a cramped apartment or a small starter home, finding space for all of the important items your baby needs can be difficult. As new parents, the additional clutter adds stress to an already hectic time in your lives.
For seasoned parents — those whose children have outgrown their cribs and strollers — the question becomes, what to do with the old stuff? It’s a great idea to save the gently-used items for the next baby in the family, but in the meantime, that car seat and bouncer take up valuable real estate.
In both of these situations, self storage is a reasonable solution. A storage unit can get extra items out of your living space and keep them in great condition for when you need them later.
Here are some tips for storing your baby’s old things.
Save that space: Storage for baby items
• Before you put any clothing into storage, be sure to wash each item and make sure everything is completely dry. If the clothes are damp, you will risk a mildew problem.
• For short-term storage — maybe you only need to pack these jumpers and onesies away for a few months because you or a friend / family member is expecting another child — simple cardboard boxes work just fine.
• For longer storage stays, however, invest in a plastic storage totes to keep the clothing dry and free from dust. Around back-to-school season or the post-Christmas frenzy of markdowns, you can find storage bins cheaply at popular department or discount stores.
• Sort each item by age: 0-9 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months. If you end up with a large pile for one age group, consider sorting again by season. Keep a separate pile for other miscellaneous stuff like bibs, swaddling cloths, and baby blankets. Label each bin appropriately so you can easily find everything later in your self storage unit.
Bonus tip: This same procedure — wash, sort, store, and repeat — works for maternity clothing, too. While you may not need those stretchy pants right now, your sister or best friend may find them quite handy (and comfortable).
• Clean the baby crib, toy box, or dresser. Usually a little soap and water will do the trick, but it’s not a bad idea to use some polish to keep the wood in the best condition possible.
• Disassemble the baby furniture next. Not only will it pack easier, taking it apart reduces the risk of damage. Be sure to put any screws or bolts into a labeled baggie and store that alongside the pieces. Taping the bag to flat surfaces is a good way to keep fasteners with the appropriate furniture.
• When you load your storage unit, cover the baby furniture pieces with an old blanket or sheet to protect from dust and moisture. But don’t use tightly wrapped plastic — that can trap moisture inside and potentially warp the item.
• Do not store baby furniture directly on the floor — use flattened cardboard or a pallet to raise it slightly in order to provide another layer of protection from water.
Believe it or not, this is one item I would not recommend putting into self storage.
Here’s why: car seats now come with expiration dates. According to the car seat manufacturer Graco, car seats last anywhere from six to 10 years. Six years is the generally recommended lifespan because of possible degradation of the plastic and potential changes in government regulations.
Before dropping the car seat off at your storage unit, check the expiration date (Graco stamps it into the bottom of each seat) and consider donating it to a friend, coworker or family member who can put it to good use right now. Otherwise, remember that short-term storage stints are best.
The amount of toys your infant can accumulate in just a few months is incredible. They love them, spend hours playing with them, and then BOOM – they’ve grown out of them.
When you’re ready to store these gently-used toys away, consider if there are any you can donate — or, if necessary, throw out. Has that activity gym has seen too much action? Time for the trash.
Major caveat: Think long and hard about throwing out items your grown children will eventually cherish. How many of us have a favorite stuffed animal that we’ve kept to this day? That’s not to say you should hold onto every item your kid ever spent 10 minutes with — but use your parental judgement.
• The same storage rules that applied to clothes work for toys as well. Clean and disinfect everything. Remove all batteries. Using plastic storage totes, sort the items into categories (stuffed animals and dolls, paper toys and books, puzzles and games, etc.).
• Wrap anything that could be dented or scratched in old burp cloths or towels. Remember not to overstuff the bins to ensure things aren’t broken or bent.
Raising children is an expensive proposition. If you can save some money through reuse — or help a friend or family member with some otherwise pricey baby gear — you’re doing yourself a great service.
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