How to Deal with Toy Clutter

As parents, we need to have an ever-changing bag of tricks to deal with the challenges of parenthood.  My nemesis is space.  I am constantly looking for new places to store items that make sense, are easily accessible, and aesthetically pleasing.  My most challenging space has always been my daughter’s bedroom. She is just like me – a hoarder natural collector of things.  Her first love is stuffed animals.  While she still sleeps with a dozen or more buddies on any given night, we have come leaps and bounds by putting her furry friends through a rigorous cleansing process.  First, we encouraged her to choose only her favorites to share her bed. We allow her to change her mind about who holds this coveted spot, but each time a new one joins her, another must go.  We also chose some of the largest animals to live at her grandparents. A 95 square foot room just will not hold a six year old girl, her bed, her dresser, her bookcase, her reading chair, and a giant teddy bear.  Or two.  Or five.  Finally, the remaining stuffed animals were hung in two fabric storage hangers from Ikea.

Utilizing vertical space in her room has done wonders for not only organization, but also my sanity.  Another vertical space often forgotten that we use well in Emma’s room is the space behind her door.  We hung a shoe organizer, which she uses to store small items ranging from dolls to random knick-knacks. My son’s die cast cars also store easily in an over-the-door shoe organizer, and although they’ve been downgraded to the “sometimes” toy box, we used to also employ this technique for our gigantic collection of Little People.

My new favorite place to hide items in my daughter’s room is under her bed. While I have long since employed under-the-bed storage boxes for her bedding and out-of-season clothing, I’ve upped the ante recently with the purchase of a tall bed lifts from Bed Bath & Beyond.  Adding these lifts to my daughter’s bed bought us seven more inches of vertical storage space under her bed.  For her safety, we use the back half of the space for bedding and other items she won’t want access to.  However, being able to line the under-the-bed space at the age of her bed with some of her favorite toys has been a life-saver.

One thing that has made this new storage trick successful is the fact that as my children grow, their toys seem to shrink.  In fact, I have become such a fan of small toys, that I’ll be hosting a giveaway of some of Emma’s favorite tomorrow.  Please check back for great prizes from Littlest Pet Shop, Strawberry Shortcake, and more!

In the meantime, tell us your best toy storage trick…

More Resources:


2. Bed, Bath, & Beyond

3. Martha Stewart Toy Chest Project

4. Nursery Storage Ideas from BabyCenter

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  • Clear plastic totes. We will be buying some when we move in a few months – one for each group of toys, with a picture of the toys taped to the outside. Will help with storage AND with keeping toys where they belong. 🙂

  • great idea! i saw the bed lift for the first time a few days ago and wondered if it was a good idea…you answered my question! 🙂 i’m so tired of stepping on legos all over the place, my sons room needs some serious organizing!

  • Those are all great tips! I also encourage people to put up shelves in their kids rooms, at the child’s height with clear plastic containers for small toys (barbies, matchbox cars, etc)

    Also, laundry baskets make great homes for stuffed animals and you can usually find them in a color that complements your child’s decor.

  • wow! i have never heard of a bed lift! we are very space challenged too and this would be wonderful! thanks for the tips.
    my best space saving tip is to get another closet rod in your children’s closet if you don’t already have one. for years we had just 1 rod in each child’s closet and we doubled it so that more clothes can hang.

  • I’ve used bed risers for YEARS. They made a huge difference in my daughter’s room. So many Barbie cars had a home under her bed…it was like a Barbie car lot! lol

  • We are doing the same to my daughter’s room this week. She has a lot of toys she no longer plays with and a lot of toys she wants.

    I also have the storage behind the door and it gets good use! I put the smallest of toys on top so I can control how many gets taken out. And the vertical Ikea hangers are awesome for stuffed animals. We have one in our oldest daughter’s room, but now we need to get one for our youngest daughter’s room bc her stuffed animals are about to take over.

  • […] any mom, the fact remains that smaller toys mean less clutter!  Yesterday’s post shared some tips for dealing with toy clutter.  Now it’s time for you to win some toys that will fit under your child’s bed!  One […]

  • Alison

    You know those clear plastic canvas shoe hangers? We hang one over the inside of the closet door, and stuff things into the pockets. You can see them through the clear vinyl, and can organize by whatever means necessary: matchbox cars, play food, etc. We keep one downstairs in our study as well, and have all common household needs sorted into those pockets: screw drivers, duct tape, push pins, hammer, flash lights, pocket knives, etc. Wonderful.

  • Great idea! Grace isn’t big enough yet for that kind of bed, but when she is…

    Our house is a veritable disaster area with all of these toys. They’re everywhere, in every room.

  • […] Amy at Resourceful Mommy posted suggestions for dealing with toy clutter […]

  • great tip for toys! our teenager has those for his bed for his shoes. never thought of putting them on the other 4 beds! Might work!

    We have cubbies with the soft boxes that go in them. I stocked up when they were on sale at target. Each kid has a color too for their own special toys.

  • rose

    I bought those bid transparent boxes and place all her toys there. These big boxes can be stack to each other so no problem with storage space.

  • Good pointers. My baby is just 6 months old and already there seem to be a clutter on all of the toys she has. I have a storage box for them but then she seems to always want to play with them and then just ignore them after a few minutes. When I try to put them away again, she gives me a this face that says don’t touch. Kids!

  • With three kids spanning from 2yrs to 12yrs, we have lots and lots of toys – far more than is needed!

    My main approach to keeping toy clutter down is to stop it happening. This means I’m proactive – at birthday and xmas time, I’m telling the doting Aunts/Uncles and Grandparents that we don’t want toys. I usually think of something fabulous and small that they could buy instead – zoo passes, museum passes even books (although we have lots of these too) make great gifts.