In Praise of Hand Me Downs

I am so blessed to have barely bought ay clothes for my son for the last four years. There are a few reasons for this, but by far the single biggest one is hand me downs.

Even his baptismal outfit was a hand me down. And that made it all the sweeter.

If you are a parent, I hope you have family or friends who have already introduced you to this joy. If you are an expectant parent or hoping to become one soon, please listen when I tell you that if someone gifts you hand me downs, that it is a truly precious gift.

My son’s first hand me downs came from his uncles. My mom had saved her favorite outfits from their first six months and was able to pass down so many adorable clothes. Some of them were yellowed from age, but others were still in wonderful condition and old enough that they had an adorable vintage quality to them! Having these clothes to start my baby’s wardrobe was such a weight off my mind and meant that we could mention that larger sizes would be more useful if someone wanted to purchase them for my baby shower. People listened and generously bought 6-12 month clothes that were absolutely adorable. I was surprised to find, though, that my son seemed to prefer the older clothing when we got to that size. It wasn’t until several laundry rotations later (not that it took long to get through those rotations…) that I realized he liked the way the hand me downs were already softened up from all the use and play and love they’d already seen. As his new clothes started to get broken in, he started to squirm less when I’d put them on.

I have found that on some level I am also more at ease when dressing my kids in hand me downs. Maybe it’s just because we buy them new clothes so infrequently, but when we do buy or receive a brand new outfit I sometimes feel like I have to wait for the perfect moment to use them! I worry about when they will inevitably get dirty. (this is clearly all about ME and my ongoing perfectionism struggle, not about the clothes themselves but still… there’s an ease with clothes that may not have come to me in perfect condition!)

As my son continued to grow, I found that I was blessed by friends several times over as they continued to offer hand me downs from their older boys. Now that he’s about to turn four, those are going to become less and less frequent since not only do kids stay in the same clothes longer, but the preschool age is a pretty physical time and I can’t tell you the number of pants we’ve ripped at the park or playing in the backyard. (Don’t worry, at least a few were salvageable as play shorts!)

What I didn’t expect was how much hand me downs bless the person that gave them. I just started passing down some of our old baby clothes. We are still hanging on to quite a bit as we aren’t sure what the future of our family might look like, but we are also trying to simplify and downsize and we want to bless others with what we aren’t using. It wasn’t until I saw clothes my baby used to wear on other babies that I love and whose mamas I am close to that I realized passing clothes on to friends lets you relive some of those memories and receive some of that joy all over again. It suddenly made sense why other mamas smiled extra big when I dressed my kids in clothes I’d received from them.

You can count the number of tags on the outfits… 5? Sweet shower gifts amidst a sea of hand me downs. All so very loved.

I know a lot of people would rather sell their old baby clothes online or to a consignment shop so they can go and buy new stuff in the new size their kid is now, but even the stuff we bought new I now want to make sure I pass on, or hold onto so I can one day pull out a big old box of very loved baby things for my kids’ kids the way my mom pulled out that box for me.

OH, and while this post focused on my son… don’t even get me started on my daughter who, now that she is out of 0-3 month size (she was itty bitty for so long!) she has enough clothes that she has probably not worn the same outfit at all for the past two months thanks to hand me downs and super sweet baby sprinkle gifts. I have beautiful, glorious, adorable outfits that make me smile each day as we pick out what to wear.

 

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