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Hand-Me-Downs: What to Save, Donate and Toss

Amanda Kondolojy
July 6, 2017

Here's a guide to the types of gently used items that you can pass along to your younger children.

For some parents, hand-me-downs have a negative connotation. According to Lydia Beiler, the blogger behind Thrifty Frugal Mom, that's because there are many misconceptions about the process of passing down gently used items.

"I know plenty of wealthy people that pass on hand-me-downs to their children," she says. "It's a smart way to save since your kids will only be wearing their clothing for a short time typically anyway."

Here's a crash course on what types of items you can and can't pass down from your older children to your younger children.

What to Pass Down

According to Shawna Ruppert, the owner and author of Moms Living Thrifty, clothing is one of the best types of items to hand down.

You shouldn't worry about clothes being "out of style or worn out," says Ruppert. "If you know how to care for clothing properly, you can keep it looking its best long enough for two kids (or more) to outgrow."

Other great items that can be passed down directly to siblings include gently used bedding and toys, as well as activity mats and gyms. If these pieces are clean and in good shape, there's no reason why more than one of your children shouldn't get to enjoy them!

What to Donate

Sometimes, passing down items directly between siblings isn't an option. This is especially true if you have children who are of opposite genders or are very close in age. In these cases, you can donate your gently used items, such as clothing, strollers, books and electronics, to local charities or thrift stores.

According to Beiler, receiving blankets also make a great donation item if they are in good shape. "You may be able to pass them on to a crisis pregnancy center," she adds. Before you make a donation, be sure to check the condition of all of your items. You should not donate pieces that are broken or stained.

What to Throw Away

Though the vast majority of child care items -- from infants to toddlers and beyond -- can be passed down or donated, there are a few items that that should be thrown away after use. For example, car seats are something that should never be reused from child to child because of expiration dates and safety issues. Clothing that is heavily stained should also be thrown away. Though cloth diapers that are in reasonably good condition can probably be reused among siblings, selling or donating these items is not recommended for hygienic reasons.

Similarly, breast pumps should also not be reused, sold or donated. It may seem a little wasteful to throw away these items (especially if they were expensive to begin with), but you must do so for health and safety reasons.

Though you may worry that using hand-me-downs might negatively affect your little ones, the fact is that most children (especially babies and toddlers) won't care if their toys or clothes had a previous owner. And though the immediate benefit of using hand-me-downs is saving some money, you can also feel confident in knowing that you are helping to reduce waste and keep the planet "green" for future generations!

Amanda Kondolojy is a full-time freelancer with more than a decade of caregiving experience.

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