Hi everyone! As I write this, more than a foot of snow is making its way onto my backyard, but we're halfway past March and I refuse to let winter occupy my brainspace anymore. And what better way to welcome spring than to get organized for warmer weather? I’m by no means a professional organizer—in fact I’m a bit of a hoarder—but I do like “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” That adage is especially difficult to apply to a child’s closet. How do you make designated space for clothes when the baby needs an entirely new wardrobe every three months? Read on for my favorite tips to create a flexible closet that can accommodate a baby’s changing needs.
ORGANIZING A CHILD’S CLOSET
To hang or not to hang?
A lot of parents swear by hanging everything and using dividers to differentiate categories, but I couldn’t image spending the time standing in the closet putting teeny tiny shirts and pants on hangers. I’ve banished the rods almost completely, regulating them to only hold dresses or winter coats. What do I do instead? Install tons of adjustable shelving!
MUST-HAVE #1: Adjustable shelves
You can go the Container Store Elfa route, or for 1/3 of the price go to Home Depot. Adjustable shelves are super easy: You start with the two vertical tracks on the back closet wall, then hang the brackets and shelves wherever you want them. It’s the perfect way to accommodate a changing closet. We love it when we can adjust the height of the bottom shelf to clear large toys stored on the closet floor. I recommend melamine shelves (shown above) over wire ones. They tend to be deeper, they are very sturdy, and stuff doesn’t fall through them as easily (and you know baby socks can get everywhere!) But if you have a dark closet or need shelves to be close together, you may like wire shelves because they don’t block the light. In my daughter’s room, I did deep melamine shelves combined with shallow wire shelves to maximize clothing storage while being able to see into all the bins.
Wire shelves offer more options. You can get a wire shelf with a rod attached, as in the photo above. This is great if you want to be able to adjust the position of the rod as your child grows taller (and those dresses grow longer and need more clearance off the floor!). This system is a great cheap way to customize a closet. If you’re hell bent on all the Elfa accessories, there are Home Depot systems that are compatible, so look closely and you might be able to mix and match!
MUST-HAVE #2: Storage bins
Instead of hanging clothes, I sort them into categories and fold them into storage bins. I’ve tried lots of types, and my favorite hands down are SKUBB bins by IKEA. They are lightweight, come in different sizes, and made of fabric so they can bend to squeeze noiselessly into tight spaces. They are available in four colors, zip open to store flat, and right now you can get 6 for $6.99. Having three sizes is the best part. I find the small ones work really well for items like socks, hats, and bibs, and the two larger sizes are great to sort the categories you have more of (like pants) or less of (like overalls) without overpacking a small bin or having empty space in a large bin.
But the best part of these bins is that since they mix and match, they can accommodate a child’s changing wardrobe. With my 2-year-old, I found I needed tons of space for onesies when she was a newborn, but as she grew I needed more room for pants and shirts. Since I took this photo earlier this week, I've already adjusted several of these bins to accommodate some more clothes that I inherited from a friend.
The bins are also a manageable size to take out of the closet while you’re getting them dressed. I’ll lay baby in the crib, take out the shirts bin and the pants bin to wade through it for what I need, and then put the whole bin back in. There are no piles to topple—so there’s no mess, and I can fish out what I need in his room instead of sticking my head into a dark closet.
This is the pièce de resistance to make everything super organized. Because what’s the point of sorting into categories if no one can tell what those categories are? When folded, short-sleeve onesies look an awful lot like long-sleeve onesies. The time you spend labelling will pay off ten-fold in putting away laundry. You might even be able to have your—gasp!—spouse help out. The labels work especially well on the SKUBB containers because they peel off easily and leave no mark. The labels are what allow you to redo everything at a moment’s notice if all of sudden they are out of footed onesies and into overalls.
Below are the results on my 3-month old son’s and my 2-year old daughter’s closets (he has green bins and she has white ones). These solutions cost less than $100 per closet and are easily the most organized spaces in the house. Now if only my clothes folded that small and were that easy to group (dressy tank tops? Casual skirts? Too many categories!)