Oh baby clothes. For something so small, they sure can take up a lot of space. And as you might have noticed, babies typically grow out of clothes every few months. This can be a major hassle on both a personal and environmental level. For obvious reasons, you probably want to move the clothes that no longer fit or are too damaged to wear out of your home, or at least find a new use for them, especially if you don't plan on having any more children. However, you probably want to figure out how to do all that in a way that’s not harmful to the environment. Because, did you know that disposed clothing can have a bigger environmental impact than many expect?
Shockingly, more than 20 billion pounds of clothing is thrown away every year, and much of this is children’s clothing. The garments that end up in landfills contribute to the release of greenhouse gases and can leach toxins into the soil and water supply. A pair of toddler jeans may take 200 years to break down in a landfill, not far from non-biodegradable diapers.
To help you out with this baby clothes conundrum, we’ve compiled a list of eco-conscious and creative ways you can up-cycle those tiny duds.
Use for burp cloths. While baby clothes that are torn or stained can’t be donated, they can be used as burp cloths. Up-cycling baby clothes in this way can save you some money, and ensure that the fabric your baby’s face is resting on while being burped is nice and soft. Just be sure to use fabric scissors to cut off buttons and zippers before use.
Make them into a baby blanket. A sweet way to preserve the memories contained in your baby’s favourite duds is to cut them into squares and sew them into a baby blanket. If you have numerous clothes you want to use for this purpose, you can make a full-size quilt.
Create a pillow cover. If the baby blanket idea awakens your love for DIY, take it a step further by cutting strips or shapes out of old baby clothes and sewing them into a pattern on a throw pillow cover.
Tip: Use a neutral-coloured pillow cover to help your design pop.
Sew into a stuffed animal. A fun project for old baby clothes is using them to sew stuffed animals. If this kind of sewing project is new to you, just buy some stuffed animal patterns (and stuffing) from a fabric store.
Host a clothes swap with other parents. If you have friends or family members in your area that have young children, you can host a clothes swap. This swap provides a fun opportunity to get together with other parents, while also allowing you all to give away baby clothes you can no longer use, and score new-to-you baby clothes that don’t cost a dime.
Frame your favourites. For those extra special outfits your baby can no longer wear, but you can’t bear to give away or cut up, you can put them on display. All you need to do is situate the outfits in nice matte frames, then voila, you have adorable decor for the nursery.
Donate to a consignment or thrift store. A tried and true method for passing along old baby clothes, consignment and thrift stores offer a great opportunity for you to get the clothes that no longer fit your baby into the hands of parents that can use them. Before you do the drop-offs, organize the clothes into two piles: those that were lightly-used and can get you some money at a consignment shop, and those that were more heavily-used (but aren’t damaged) and can be given to a thrift shop.
As baby clothes are often alive with sentimentality, utilizing these ideas can help you prevent old baby clothes from ending up in a dusty box in a closet, while also allowing you to use them in a way that doesn’t tug on those heartstrings too much. And these suggestions are just the beginning. When you get those creative juices flowing you’ll likely come up with numerous ways to up-cycle your baby’s adorable garments.