I’ve racked up quite a bit of baby gear as a mom of four. From diaper bags to bottles to wipe warmers, I could fully stock my own Babies R Us resale outlet! But now that my kids are beyond the baby years, it’s time to purge. Because no parent needs leftover diapers after the kids are potty-trained.
Or do we?
So I looked around and found these 7 smart hacks for repurposing old baby gear before you go all KonMari method on your kids’ nursery. You might be surprised which items are worth keeping around.
At top: Rainbow water beads sensory jar | Ryan and Marsha
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1. Stash loose change in a pacifier pocket
Those little pacifier pockets that parents snap around the straps of handbags or stroller handles are gold — do not toss them! I use mine to store loose change, my daughter’s hair clips, my jewelry when I travel, or even small baggies with doses of medication my kids might need if we’re away from home for the day.
If there’s anything small you’re always losing — or always needing (ahem, extra batteries!) — store them in a pacifier pocket. Plus, so many of them are so cute!
2. Use your baby monitor to supervise sleepovers
My daughter is 10 now, so she’s way past the need for a baby monitor. But when she has friends sleep over, I set it up in her room. She actually loves it, because I’m not using to spy on her — I’m not that parent, promise! Instead, when it’s time to settle down for the night, I use it like a two-way speaker to let them know it’s time to turn out the lights, all without having to interrupt their fun.
It gives the kids more of a feeling of independence than seeing me sticking my head in the room all night long. Although I admittedly do a little of that too. Just not all the time.
3. Turn your diaper bag into a pool bag
As much as you may be dying to get rid of that diaper bag and get back to something more stylish, hang onto it! All those pockets, all that durable, water-resistant fabric makes for a perfect beach or pool bag!
I have a fantastic bucket-style waterproof diaper bag from TwelveLittle that has become a full-time pool tote for us now. The magnetic, waterproof front pocket is a great place to stash my phone and wallet to keep them safe from splashes. Since I never used the changing pad, it makes a perfect placemat for pool snacks during rest period. And don’t tell the kids, but I keep my favorite canned cocktails cold in the insulated bottle bag for those nights we’re having dinner poolside.
4. Use your wet/dry bags for swimsuits
Speaking of pool hacks, this is a perfect one. Since my kids need to be in dry clothes for an afternoon, post-pool nap in the car to happen, so we switch out of our swimsuits before we leave the pool and stash them in my old Bumkins wet/dry bags that were originally used for soiled baby clothes.
Whatever wet bags you have can also be used for packing picnic gear that might leak, from drinks to condiments. In case one of them explodes — hey, it happens — it won’t ruin your whole dinner.
5. Wear a swaddle blanket as a sarong
We already know swaddle blankets pull excellent double-duty during the baby years as nursing covers, but WillyBMum’s idea on Twitter to use your old swaddle blankets as a sarong at the beach (she uses the muslin swaddles from Aden & Anais, which we love) is so smart.
I’m always digging around for a cover-up at the beach or pool, and swaddlers are so lightweight and easy to pack that I can’t believe I never thought of it before! Plus, you can save a lot on spendy sarongs.
6. Make a sensory toy from old baby bottles
When my kids get tired and fussy, I pass them a sensory jar I made from an old glass baby bottle with a travel cap glued on top. It’s full of water, glitter, and food coloring, which makes it mesmerizing and calming as they tilt it back and forth.
There’s a great tutorial on how to make your own rainbow water beads sensory jar at Ryan and Marsha, which you can see here. Doesn’t it look amazing? Click through for all the instructions — and don’t miss to her clever space-themed sensory jar idea, too.
7. Let unused diapers save the day
If your period catches you off guard, you can shove a diaper in your pants until you make it home.
(Uh, no way. Just seeing if you were still with me.)
Seriously though, once my kids outgrew their diapers I actually hung onto the last few in the pack. This hack isn’t for everyone, but frugal moms, pay attention!
I kept our spare diapers under the kitchen sink, since they work great to absorb that spilled cup of milk that inevitably will happen at dinnertime when you don’t want to use up half your paper towels or go through 4 dishrags. You won’t want to buy new diapers for this because, expensive! But if you have a few leftover, might as well make use of them.
This hack works especially well on carpet, by the way, when you’re trying to make sure that whatever has spilled doesn’t soak into the rug.