Or hoards. Sometimes a baby attracts a hoard of teddy bears. It seems to be THE automatic response to news of Baby unless they buy diapers or onesies.
This great menagerie will lead you to make some of the hardest decluttering decisions you’ll have to make: to donate most of them to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. You can keep 10 stuffed animals per kid, max. This doesn’t sound like much if you only have one child, but what if you have 3? That’s 30 animals strewn about the house. Even if you only have 1 kid, having a limit lets them know that they aren’t entitled to everything they want just because you have extra space.
10 is a reasonable number because most kids don’t get “hard core, drive 3 hours back to the in-laws to retrieve it” attached to more than 3 of them. If they do, ask them for a tradeoff. For every additional stuffed animal they want to keep they have to part with another toy of equal or larger size.
Children should also know that if they want or receive a new stuffed animal, they will have to let an old one go. For whatever reason my kids decided they wanted me to knit them whales. I have a pattern in a Jean Greenhowe book so it’s copyrighted. They each had to give up a stuffed animal in exchange.
This turned out not to be hard because there were some they were absolutely not interested in and had never been interested in. As usual, I had just kept them because they were gifts. I hadn’t considered my kids’ feelings about them. For instance, I knit 2 or 3 wonderful ballgowns for my daughter’s Barbies in green. Turns out she hates green and gave them back!
Sometimes the bear isn’t new, it’s one you had as a kid or your parent had as a kid. These are stuffed with a life of their own. But they may not be safe anymore for a baby; noses hanging on by a thread, questionable stuffing leaking out, a loose scarf that could choke a baby. Please get rid of these ones.
It also should be able to go through the washing machine. There is no sense in letting a child get attached to a stuffed animal that has to be thrown out because you can’t get the vomit out of it.
Storing stuffed animal collections
The 3 loved ones on the bed, the other 7 in the duffel bag your husband never uses and under the bed to be played with at will and put back when done.
As for the rest, even if they’re in good condition, you still can’t keep all of them. You’ll just have to prioritize, keeping the happy ones and not the guilty ones.
Take a picture of each one, or two or three pictures and keep them in a photo album dedicated to that purpose. Write up a little note about the animal if it has a history. If it’s something brand new and Aunt Suzie bought you lots of them, just keep one. Write her name in permanent marker on the stuffed animal’s tag (and year if it fits) so you’ll remember who it came from.
The sadness at parting with something old is being replaced by the joy of making your own memories with your own children and their toys. And if you can declutter stuffed animals, you’ll have toughened yourself up A LOT and built up your decluttering skills 500% in a day. The rest of your piles will now be a lot easier to go through. If you can do stuffed animals, you can do anything!