How to Downsize Toys
How downsizing the toys made me a better mom with a happier kid
Parenting,  Slow Living

How to Downsize Toys

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I’d been putting off downsizing our toys and children’s books for awhile…ok, if I’m honest, I’de been putting it off for at least a year.

But as I looked around at all the toy clutter in all of the living areas as well as in my daughters room – I’d had enough!

It was time to downsize the toys

Easier said than done.

I looked around at the baby toys and books and felt my stomach twist…this was going to be an emotional journey.

Sure, I’d put away a lot of the baby gear and toys already but trying to put away the last of them was more than I could face (which is why I’d kept putting off the toy downsize!).

At almost 2, my daughter wasn’t playing with the baby toys or reading the baby books much anymore.

But admitting that she had outgrown them was hard.

It meant that I needed to admit that my baby was growing up.

Not to mention the overwhelm of where to even start!

With so many toys and books all over it would have been easier to just say I’d do it later (like I’d been doing!).

I also struggle with that thought, and maybe you do to, of “what if we need this after we get rid of it?”.

But I knew that I needed to figure out how to get rid of clutter and live abundantly.

I decided to start with the easy stuff: downsizing the baby books.

We received books instead of cards for the baby shower and had accumulated many more afterwards as well.

We had over 3 shelves full of books!

These were my rules for how to downsize the books:

Broken  (ripped, torn, broken spine, written in, etc.)


Age/Developmentally appropriate (too advanced/scary, too young)

Does she love it

The obviously broken went immediately into a toss pile.

I knew we couldn’t sell them or give them away in that condition.

Duplicates went in the sell or donate pile.

Advanced books I either:

left them out if they were a favorite or

put them away to bring out later

If they were too young (baby books) I either put them in the sell/donate pile or put them away for (hopefully) our next baby to enjoy.

There were a few baby books that are still favorites that I couldn’t quite bring myself to get rid of this time around and I’m ok with that.

Someday I’ll be ready to part with them.

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I was surprised at how emotional the decluttering of the baby toys was. But it wasn't fair to my family, or to me, to not face those uncomfortable truths.

So, we went from having 3 shelves completely full of children’s books down to about 2 shelves.

We have a lot of books still but that’s something I’m ok with.

I can always rotate them if I want to limit the number that are out or make it easier for my toddler to choose by having fewer options.

Starting with the books gave me the momentum I needed to tackle the toys.

Once I saw how much progress I made with the books I wanted to keep on going!

How I downsized the toys

I kept the same criteria for determining what got to stay and what had to go.

I’ll admit that the toys were a bit more emotionally difficult.

Especially the sentimental items like a favorite baby toy that hasn’t been played with in months.  Or a favorite rattle that just isn’t exciting anymore.

It’s ok to decide to keep these items (like I have, for now).  Another great option is to take a picture of them and put them in your baby book or wherever you keep sentimental baby things.

And then there were a few items that she would occasionally play with and I wasn’t sure about what to do with.  I decided that if it could be easily replaced for $20 or less it would be gone.

THat rule made it SO much easier to part with those things that were a “but what if she wants this later?”.

The funny thing is, she hasn’t asked for or looked for any of those things I was unsure of!

She  went right over to blocks she hadn’t played with in months and was fascinated with them for 20 minutes.

What was left:

More than enough toys, but a much more orderly display of high quality toddler toys.


So often the things that we keep that clutter our homes are much more emotionally significant than the actual stuff.

Setting aside the baby toys took a lot of effort.

It meant I had to deal with the reality that the baby phase was really and truly over.

Sure, I could have avoided that truth and left the baby toys out. I’d been doing just that for months.

But that would have been a disservice to myself, our family, and my daughter.

Watching her play after I had downsized the toys made me realize that she hadn’t even been able to see what she had because the toys were hidden by stuff she didn’t want or need.

She also had a hard time choosing what to play with because there were just so many options.

So – she would end up pulling EVERYTHING out.

Then leave the toys scattered all over the floor when she was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff.

This meant more clean up for me.

It was also amazing how much SPACE her toys took up.

It made our house look messy and didn’t leave room for new toys that would be interesting at her current stage.

And, the truth is, I need to come to terms with the fact that I have a toddler.

She’s not a baby any more and I need to accept that.  Avoiding it doesn’t change the truth.

By putting off and avoiding facing the sadness of time passing I wasn’t doing myself any favors.

Watching our children grow is bittersweet, but we have to face the bitter parts of it sometimes so we can fully enjoy the sweetness of the stage we’re currently in.

I’m so glad that I went through this toy purge so that I could create a better living environment for our family.

I’m also glad that I can now fully enjoy the toddler phase (which is a fun phase of learning and wonder!) without trying to desperately hold on to the past.

I plan on continuing to downsize the toys every so often.

I’m also hoping to rotate toys so that the toys we do keep stay interesting.

Want some help decluttering your home?

If you’ve downsized the toys at your house I’d love to know what that process was like for you!

You may also enjoy these posts:

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Slow Your Mornings

Parenting with the Magic Number 5

The Shockingly Easy Way to End Power Struggles with your Toddler


Alexis is a wife and mom on a journey of gentle parenting, slow living, and lower toxicity in a laid back way.

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