5 Nonnegotiable Rules For Hand-Me-Downs

One of the great things about having friends, family, or neighbors with children is the almost endless possibilities for hand-me-downs. Kids grow so quickly in the first few years of their lives; one moment they fit perfectly into that Winter coat, and the next it's like a tube top. But because they grow so quickly and their clothes and toys are usually only slightly worn, it seems unreasonable to just get rid of them or to keep buying them brand new items every few months. While hand-me-downs are a great way to save money and to make use out of things that still have a lot of potential, there are some steadfast rules you should always follow, whether you're the giver or the receiver.

  1. Check Product Recalls. The last thing you want to do is give away or receive a product that's been recalled by the manufacturer. Whether it's clothing, furniture, toys, or other items, always be sure to check that the specific product you're giving or receiving is still safe to use. This is especially important for items like furniture, car seats, and other pieces that could put your child or someone else's child in danger if they're defective.
  2. Make Sure They're Extremely Clean. Whether or not you realize it, giving away your child's worn clothes or used toys without washing them could spread dangerous germs, allergens, and more. And if you're the one on the receiving end of the used items, make sure you wash them, launder them, and give them a good once-over to make sure they're really clean. It's not just a matter of sanitation, either — these kinds of items could even spread pests like bedbugs, which no one wants.
  3. Make Sure They're in Good Condition. A beloved toy or a well-worn item of clothing may have brought you and your child lots of joy, but consider whether the item has come to the end of its life and should be discarded of in a different way. Check toys to make sure they're not broken, and make sure clothing and shoes are only lightly worn. Items with holes in them or that are missing essential pieces are not necessarily going to be useful for another child.
  4. Don't Give Away Your Trash. Has your child stopped using a toy because it's missing pieces or because something is broken, causing it not to work anymore? Items like this belong in the trash and shouldn't be given away to unsuspecting friends, neighbors, or family members. Also a big no-no? Don't try to hide things you're too busy to throw away in a box of otherwise good items. No one wants to be disappointed to find out that half of the things you've given them are just junk.
  5. Be Clear About Sizing. Always be clear about sizing with the person you're handing off your worn items to. If you tell them that you have a collection of pieces in a certain size, don't throw in a bunch of other clothing in different sizes with it. Be respectful that the person receiving the hand-me-downs still has specific needs for their children and might not want every single piece of clothing you want to get rid of.