The onesie he wore home from the hospital.

The gown she was christened in.

The baby blanket that soothed away the tears.

Parents yearn to store baby clothing in the hopes that one day their little angel might have an angel of their own, or sometimes they may just want to keep it around long enough for the second brother to wear.

Given the emotional connections inherent for parents, it can be challenging to decide what to keep, and when you have chosen those special pieces, how to store them safely for posterity. Here are some tips offered by experts.


Choose Carefully

“Keep only those clothes that are in good condition and have strong sentimental value,” said Nancy Haworth of On Task Organizing in Raleigh, NC.

First, doublecheck that they don’t have visible stains and will not quickly go out of style if you intend to pass them on to a future sibling. Use the “aha” test, said Lauren Williams, owner of Casual Uncluttering in Woodinville, WA.

“Make sure it sparks a fierce response,” Williams said, such as the first piece that Grandma made or the church outfit that made his eyes sparkle.

Prepare the Clothing

Always wash and thoroughly dry or dry clean each piece, since unseen stains can come to the surface once they’ve been stored, and then wrap clothing in acid-free archival tissue paper.

Never store clothing in plastic bags, recommends Haworth, since they can trap moisture and cause mildew.


Develop a System

If you are storing clothing temporarily to pass down to another sib, keep each size in a different box, suggests Monica Friel of Chaos to Order in Chicago.

Bunching multiple sizes or genders together can create two problems: In addition to unnecessary chaos as you sort through them, you risk missing the ideal time for a perfect garment to be worn as that 3T gets mixed in with the 5T.

“It’s better to buy smaller boxes and stick to a good system for every size,” Friel said.

As with any storage box, label it clearly.

Store Thoughtfully

Haworth suggests storing clothing in acid-free storage boxes or in plastic lidded bins made of polypropylene. (These bins will have a #5 or a PP to indicate the polypropylene.)

Friel recommends avoiding colored boxes, which could stain the clothing over time. Adding cedar blocks or mothballs can keep pests at bay.


Keep Clothes Separate

If you are also saving baby toys or other keepsakes, place those in a different box to reduce the chance of staining or odors.

“Batteries or paints can leak and cause stains, crayons can melt and books can create a very musty odor,” Haworth said.

Choose an Ideal Location

Haworth recommends avoiding basements, attics or garages, which can experience frequent fluctuations in temperature. Consider a climate-controlled area such as an interior closet, under a bed or an indoor storage unit.

Open the boxes to examine the clothing occasionally to ensure it is still in good condition and hasn’t attracted pests.

Get Creative

Here are some ideas for other ways to save your mementoes that preserve the memories, as well as your space.

“My first word of advice is to resist,” said Williams. ”I’ve seen many people who can’t decide what to keep, and they end up with drawers they can’t close, closets with stuff jumbled on the floor and overflowing storage bins overwhelming their living spaces.”

Here are her ideas to make letting go of garments a little less painful.

  • Take photos of the outfit for posterity. This is a great solution for play clothes, pajamas or other everyday outfits. When your child is wearing a favorite, snap photos around the house, at the park or getting ready for bed.
  • Cut a pocket or other piece of the apparel and use it in in a scrapbooking, a quilt, or preserve it in a shadow box.
  • If letting go is difficult, donating the apparel to a worthy cause rather than somewhere more impersonal. “See if a friend or relative can use your hand-me-downs or drop off the clothing at a foster care or social services agency,” Williams said
  • Make some cash for new clothes by consigning or selling them, and buying new pieces for new memories.

“The key is to remember that if you keep too much, it will be hard to find what’s really important,” said Friel.

Cathie Ericson