The Secret About Hand-Me-Downs That Every Old Mom Knows

by Jessica Goodwin
Originally Published: 
Children's clothes in various colors drying on a rack

When I told people that I was pregnant with my son, it wasn’t long before the gifts started flowing in. My mom immediately started shipping diapers. My in-laws sent cute clothes. And a friend of mine who’d recently had a little girl started giving me all kinds of stuff.

At first, it was some gender-neutral newborn clothes. Side-snap shirts and swaddles and plain white onesies. Then she started giving me other things—unopened cans of formula, diapers that were now too small for her daughter, lotion samples, different bottles and nipples. I was so grateful. I knew that the cost of all these little things would quickly add up, and I was glad to have an arsenal of baby supplies already stocked up way before our baby even arrived.

Once they transitioned their daughter into her crib, my friend offered me her daughter’s bassinet. I wasn’t sure about it at first, because my husband and I just assumed we’d start our son off in his crib, but we took it anyway, just in case. The bassinet became a total lifesaver because I ended up having a C-section, and we probably spent the first week at home camped out on the couch—it was easier than me trying to get in and out of bed. My friend also gave us a baby papasan chair. Her daughter never used it, but our son loves it and does most of his naps in it.

I was overwhelmed by my friend’s generosity and vowed that, if I had the chance, I’d do my best to perpetuate the good karma and pass on as much stuff as I could to the next new parents-to-be who would need it.

It turns out, those next new parents-to-be were my brother and sister-in-law. And, in my fervor to take part in this spirit of sharing, I quickly learned that all of this giving and handing-down isn’t necessarily done in the spirit of generosity alone. It’s done to get all of the extra shit out of the house.

It is amazing how much you accumulate once you have a baby. Clothes, crib sheets, blankets, toys, books. Between hand-me-downs, shower gifts and the stuff you buy yourself, you end up with a ton of stuff. And it’s amazing how much space all that stuff takes up. They might be teeny-tiny onesies and itty-bitty pj’s, but somehow, if you don’t keep track of what you’re bringing in, your newborn baby will end up with a whole freaking drawer full of socks! (Seriously, our kid had an entire dresser drawer full of socks before he even arrived in this world.)

When he was born, our son weighed over eight pounds and barely fit into any of the newborn stuff that we had. He hardly wore any of it. Upon hearing that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting a baby boy, I bundled all of the newborn clothes that my son never got the chance to wear and shipped them off. What did I need them for? They were brand new, and my kid was already too big! GET THEM OUT OF HERE! I NEED TO MAKE ROOM FOR MORE STUFF!

When my son went from size 3 months to 6 months in clothes, my brother and his wife got another box of clothes, same thing when he went from size 6 months to 9 months. Every time he went up a size, I went through his drawers, clearing out the too-small stuff to make room for the right-size stuff. The stuff that was too small went into an empty diaper box. When the diaper box was filled, it got taped up and mailed to my brother and sister-in-law.

Speaking of diapers, when my son went from size 1 to size 2 diapers, we probably had ¾ of a giant economy size box of diapers left over. Those got mailed to Florida, too. I filled the empty space in the box with a bunch of extra burp cloths and receiving blankets (how in the world did I end up with so many of those damn things?!) and shipped it.

Those big economy-size diaper boxes are great. I always keep an empty one around to toss the next shipment of too-small clothes and other assorted baby items in it. When my son outgrew his Bumbo seat (another hand-me-down from my friend), I was able to stick the Bumbo seat in the diaper box and still shove baby clothes in and around it.

When my son went from the tiny bottles and super-slow newborn nipples to the bigger and faster ones—you got it—I mailed them all down to my brother and sister-in-law.

When I stopped breastfeeding, I sent my sister-in-law all of my breast pump attachments, accessories, bottles, caps, storage containers and sterilizer bags, because what the hell did I need them for?! I certainly wasn’t going to hang on to them for sentimental value.

She got most of my maternity clothes, too. Goodbye, ruched shirts!

And because they either shrink like crazy or my son’s feet grow every time I do a load of laundry, I ended up mailing my brother and sister-in-law the entire drawer full of baby socks.

Of course, I’m really happy to be able to keep the circle of giving going. I’m grateful that I have family and friends who have been so generous, and I’m glad that I have a ton of stuff to hand down to my brother and his wife. And they’re glad to accept it. But I know that once their kid gets here, and they’re swimming in baby socks and burp cloths, they’ll be just as happy to hand it all down to the next lucky parents-to-be! Just like I was.

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