Preparing for a baby, along with sorting and organizing the stuff that comes along with a newborn is by and large a joyful task. As I prepared for my first baby, I found a lot of pleasure in going through tiny hats, shoes and other items. However, if you don’t have a system in place for all of those incoming items, it can start to feel stressful very quickly! Here are some helpful tips for organizing during the first year of baby’s life.
Step 1: Create a system for sorting incoming baby clothes and toys
Chances are, you’re going to receive a LOT of it. Like, way more stuff than you ever thought a tiny baby might need! Since babies only wear items for a short time, they tend to get passed around among friends, co-workers and family members multiple times. Not to mention the gifts that you will receive if you decide to have a shower (and even if you don’t). You’ve officially been warned!
To accommodate all of this incoming treasure, create a designated area of the home for these things before baby arrives. Then, rather than just throwing items into that general area, take an extra few minutes to organize as you go along. Some cardboard storage boxes can be marked Newborn / 3 months / 6 months, so that you can easily sort baby clothing (and toys) into “like” categories as you receive them.
Keep track of what belongs to whom by keeping some colored Sharpies nearby. Make a small mark in a designated color on the label, so that you can return things if the original owner wants them back. Just remember to keep track of which color belongs to whom!
Separate small newborn rattles and toys into their own bin. You’ll need those in good time, but not before baby is 6 – 8 weeks old. It makes sense to have these separated from larger toys for older children.
Print off a list of baby items you might need (here is a good one). Keep it in that same area. When you receive new gifts or “donations”, cross those items off of the list. This is a good way to avoid bringing in new duplicate items of things you already have. Also, create a designated area for returns / re-gifts if you receive duplicates of a gift.
Step 2. Organize a storage system for permanent baby stuff
Once you have the baby clothes that you plan on keeping, you are ready to create a system for storing them.
For clothing, I purchased several bins from the Dollar Store. These I labeled Newborn / 3 months / 6 months / 9 months.
In these bins, I placed folded items such as pants, socks, hats and shoes. Anything older than 1 year, I placed in a clear bag and labeled “Toddler”, to go on a top shelf in baby’s closet.
Directly above, I hung shirts and jackets. These I separated with pre-labeled hanging discs. These can be purchased online.You can also buy blank ones and label them with a Sharpie.
The hanging items correspond nicely with the bins, and make it easy to find things.
As we have approached a new clothing size, I take down the items that we are going to use for the present stage. Babies change outfits so frequently that I don’t think it behooves me to rehang things after every wash. These I keep out in a basket of current clothing. When we have passed that period and the items begin to grow too small, I store the items that I want to keep for a second baby back into the corresponding bin in the closet.
Items that I do not wish to keep go into one of three separate bags: “Return to owner”, “Consign” and “Donate”. Since babies grow so quickly and there are so many items of clothing to organize and store, this is a good way to keep up a steady habit of removing them quickly and efficiency as they outgrow their use.
This same system works well for toys, blankets, towels and other baby items that have served their purpose. Yes, these bags take up space, but not any more space than those items would use up if they were scattered throughout your home! Be sure to re-home these bags as soon as they are full. Taking the step of putting them in your car helps to get them out of your home and acts as a visual reminder to drop them off.
Step 3: Don’t stress!
One final piece of advice: as a professional organizer, I felt that I ought to have the baby’s room completely ready for his arrival. So of course, I stressed myself out in the final weeks before he was born, making sure everything was ready. It was like preparing for a happy apocalypse! Except that I was a little off base: baby still hasn’t spent more than a few minutes at a time in his perfect room. While it’s worth it to get organized before baby arrives, keep in mind that it isn’t the end of the world if everything isn’t ready in time! With a system for keeping incoming and outgoing baby items sorted, you’ll keep your sanity and save a ton of time. The main thing is to enjoy spending time with your new arrival and not chasing perfection.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below – we learn from you just as you learn from us!