It’s no secret that babies—and all of their stuff—can cost a bundle. Repurposing those used baby items once your little one has outgrown them is a smart way to stretch the money you’ve already invested. Plus, giving your baby items a new use beyond their original purpose will keep perfectly usable items out of the landfill. For frugal-minded moms, it’s a win-win! Here are our 10 favorite ways to give old baby items a new lease on life.

photo: Elizabeth weislak via Flickr

1. Board books for early learning and development. Before you send those “baby” board books to donations, keep in mind that it won’t be long before your little one will be reading books (rather than chewing on them). With colorful illustrations, durable construction, and easy-to-identify pictures and words, board books makes the perfect first books for early readers. Plus, they’re the the perfect size for little hands.

2. Baby wipes for cleaning messes on the go and more. If you’ve moved beyond the diaper phase and still have boxes of baby wipes stacked in your closet, you’re in luck. The tiny, disposable workhorses are good for much more than diaper duty. Great for potty-training toddlers, cleaning kids’ grimy hands on the go, removing stubborn makeup (from faces and clothes!), and wiping down pretty much anything, from your leather jacket to your kids’ dry-erase chalkboards to the dashboard of your car, it’s no wonder why wipes are a household staple in even baby-free homes.

3. Bottle brushes for new cleaning tasks. You may have tossed the bottles, but give those cleaning brushes a new lease on life by putting them to work on other household items. They’re perfect for reaching into hard-to-clean nooks of toddlers’ sippy cups and slim-necked items, like reusable water bottles, thermoses or vases. Their gentle bristles also make them ideal for cleaning delicate glassware like crystal. Sanitize by running through a regular dishwashing cycle periodically.

photo: Austin Kirk via Flickr

4. Baby powder for deodorizing and more. Buying the 15-ounce economy-size baby powder seemed like a good idea, until you got two years into motherhood and realized you’d barely made a dent in the bottle. Fortunately, there are plenty of clever uses for the cornstarch mixture, from deodorizing gym shoes to freshening up your carpet before vacuuming. Some thrifty mamas swear by it as a dry shampoo alternative, while others bring along a bottle to the beach to make quick work of removing stubborn sand from hands and feet. 

5. Sippy cups for occasional use. While we’re not suggesting you allow your five year old to drink from a sippy cup on a regular basis (the AAP Pediatric Nutrition Manual suggests most children are developmentally ready to trade a sippy cup for a straw cup beginning around age 2), it’s smart to keep a few sippy cups handy for occasions where you need to cut down on the chance of spills. Some possible uses: during long car trips, on a bedside table for late-night thirst or to give fluids during an illness while your child is laying down in bed. 

6. Burp cloths for mess control. When your swaddling days are over, there are still plenty of ways to put your burp cloths to good use. Ultra absorbent and soft, they’re ideal for dusting, wiping up spills, and cleaning or polishing surfaces from the kitchen to the bathroom. They’re also the perfect accompaniment to mealtime when used as a placemat to catch the overflow of messy little eaters or as a bib to keep an outfit clean.

photo: Hazel Olayres via Unsplash

7. Baby shampoo for gentle cleaning. No need to spend money on fancy cleaners for the delicate items around your house when you have a leftover bottle of baby shampoo. Suitable for baby’s skin, it makes sense that the gentle cleansers are safe but effective on everything from makeup brushes to lingerie. 

8. Lanolin for more than cracked nipples. Once your breastfeeding days are behind you, that tube of lanolin may become your skin’s new best friend. Perfect for most anything that ails your skin, some of our favorite uses include soothing chapped lips and scraped knees, moisturizing ragged cuticles, and calming razor nicks.

photo: NGi via Pixabay

9. Baby food for added nutrition. We know what you’re thinking, and we’re with you. As much as we love to save money, eating baby food straight from the jar is taking things too far. Fortunately, there’s a better use for leftover containers of puree. Add the contents of a fruit- or spinach-flavored jar into a smoothie or swap some of the puree in place of the oil in a quick bread. Jars of purred vegetables and blends can be added to thicken soups and stews or stirred into spaghetti sauce for a nutritional boost you won’t even notice.

10. Diapers for soothing ouchies and hiding valuables. If you have an outgrown box of diapers languishing in a closet, you might want to pull out a few and set them aside before donating the rest. Extras can be used to make a homemade ice pack for ouchies or to keep foods cold on the go. (Simply pour a cup of alcohol into the diaper, saturate with water, slip into a zippered baggie, and freeze.) Other ideas: Use extras to wrap fragile items before storing, hide valuables safely at the park, or absorb a spill on carpet or upholstery by placing the diaper upside down on the area to be treated with a weight for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

—Suzanna Palmer

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