New Uses for Old Baby Things

Bogged Down in Baby Gear?

By Kristi Hemingway 

I traveled to a family reunion with my two children when they were 10 months and 2 years old. I remember stuffing our minivan with enough paraphernalia to furnish a small country – and we were only staying for four days! Babies require a lot of equipment. Now, only a few years later, my kids travel with one small bag, which they pack and carry themselves. Babies outgrow those oh-so-essential accessories in a heartbeat, leaving us buried in burp rags. Whether you’re in the thick of the diapering stage – or well out of it – here are some ideas for repurposing, rather than tossing, all the stuff.

You’ve Got Nursing Pads

Re-Purpose: Disposable breast pads soaked in witch hazel make great grown-up-girl facial wipes.

More Ideas:

– Use one inside a shoe that is slightly too big to keep the heel from rubbing. – Place one or more under drips in pipes.

– Wipe off excess water from a paintbrush after rinsing. Nursing pads are absorbent, convenient and easier to use than paper towels.

– Reuse them over and over as makeup-remover pads.

– The washable cotton pads work great to wax and polish shoes and boots.

You’ve Got Baby Food Jars

Baby Food JarsRe-Purpose: Organize! Beads and sequins in the craft corner, rubber bands and paper in the office, and screws, nails and washers in the garage. Save space by gluing the lid to an overhanging cabinet, and screw the jar into it.

More Ideas:

– Snack container. Great for holding small portions of Cheerios, or salad dressing for your lunch. – Candles. Most are big enough to hold a tea light. You can decorate the outside to make them look pretty. – Storing jars for homegrown herbs or spices.

– Fill with gifts: homemade bath salts, drink mixes, dried herbs, etc. – A homemade snow globe!

You’ve Got Baby Clothes


Naturally, if you’re expecting more babies you will store clothes for future use, but if you’re truly out of the baby phase, store a few favorites as keepsakes, like the home-from-the-hospital and baby’s first Christmas clothes, and then pass the rest around. My mom friends have a regular circuit for hand-me-downs.

More Ideas:

– Save the tiny favorites for doll clothes.  – For gently used items, consignment stores put money in your pocket for the next size up.

– For favorite items that are worn-out or stained, clip small pieces for a patchwork blanket, skirt or vest.

– Donate to women’s shelters. Women and children often arrive with just the clothes on their backs.

You’ve Got Books

Resue Baby BooksRe-Purpose: For a board book that your child particularly enjoyed, frame the front cover as a decoration for his/her room. Use a craft knife to carefully slice the front cover of the board book off and place in a “floating” or “clip” frame.

More Ideas:

– Frame several pages from a favorite book and arrange on the wall. – Donate gently used books to a local library, women’s shelter or daycare.

– For well-loved books that have seen better days, use the pages to make collages or greeting cards.

– Cut out pictures and glue them onto index cards. Have children put them in story order for sequencing practice – reading readiness!

You’ve Got Baby Wipe Boxes

Re-purpose: Time to organize toys and crafts. These handy boxes rival any pricey plastic bin at the organization store. Store crayons in one, paints and brushes in another. Label each box so craft items are easy to find. Does that powdery blue clash with your décor? Decoupage the boxes with paper or cover them with decorative contact paper or spray paint.

Baby Wipe BoxesMore ideas:

– A road-trip project-box for your little travelers.

– A plastic bag dispenser.

– Junk drawer organizer.

– Mini treasure chests for party favors.

– Gift boxes. – First-aid kits for the cars.

– Giant stacking blocks.

You’ve Got Baby Blankets


Use a baby blanket to wrap gifts at the next baby shower you attend. This is such a sweet and practical idea, especially when you use a matching fabric ribbon.

More Ideas:

– Make the baby blankets into cloth baby wipes.

– Sew the baby blankets together for a blanket or quilt.

– Save a few for baby dolls.

– Cut them down for use as dust rags.  

You’ve Got a Crib

Re-Purpose: A crafty, creative friend of mine removed one side of her son’s old crib, strengthened the joints, refinished it, and made a nice thick cushion and some throw pillows. It now sits in her den as a relaxing loveseat/daybed.

More Ideas:

– Remove the side pieces (with rails) and use them as baby gates. Attach a cleat to both sides of the doorway. Then attach the crib sides to the cleats with a piano hinge on one side and backyard gate hardware on the other.

– Separate the four sides from each other and use as garden fencing or trellises. Or, use the whole crib as a flower bed in the yard. Run morning glories up the rails.

– Remove one end side (without rails) and turn the crib on end with the open end up. Then slide boards through the rail parts, and presto! Instant shelving unit.  – If the rails are still in good shape, sand, seal and paint them – then hang with black chain and eye bolts from the kitchen ceiling for pots, or in the garage for extra storage.

You’ve Got Car Seats

Re-Purpose: This is a toughie. They are one of the most important baby accessories and your child usually requires two or three versions before outgrowing them. You can donate them to friends or family if they haven’t been involved in an accident, but they aren’t always accepted by charities and they do have an expiration of about six years (plastic deteriorates). However, there are options for recycling. Check with charitable organizations or even retailers in your area to see if they offer any kind of recycling program.

More Ideas:

Baby Earth stores recycle car seats, as well as strollers, swings, diaper bags, jumpers and high chairs. They disassemble all usable parts for accredited recycling centers. Fabrics are shipped to developing countries, and metal, plastic and foam are used for construction projects. As incentive, they will email you a $5 off coupon to use the next time you shop with them.

Find 6 More Quick Ideas for recycling baby things.

Kristi Hemingway is a freelance writer and mother of two.