Do you share hand-me-down clothing in your family? Is it fair to expect to get your relatives’ old baby things?

One mom is sick of her sister-in-law’s possessive attitude about the clothes her children are still wearing.


Writing on Mumsnet, the mom explained she and her husband currently have a 3-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son. Though neither of her husband’s two siblings have children yet, her sister-in-law has made it clear she’s expecting to get all the hand-me-downs when she does have a baby. The mom wrote:

She also says things like, “That’s a nice top, I can’t wait until my baby wears that.” She’s made it very clear that she expects us to hand over every item of clothing in both sexes, effectively meaning that she will never have to buy any kids clothing at all. (I’m OCD and have kept everything folded and clean.)

As the mom explained, she doesn’t think it’s fair she and her husband have spent, “thousands” on baby things, but her sister-in-law expects to get it all for free. She wrote:

I guess I feel it’s unjust. We’ve done everything ourselves, from childcare to buying everything. We’ve had no help at all. It doesn’t seem fair that we are going to be the only ones in the family ever buying clothes.

A number of commenters sympathized with the mom and urged her to ignore her sister-in-law’s hints and refuse her the clothes. One wrote:

She is being very presumptuous. You might want to give the clothes to your friends or other family members. Or sell them.

Another commenter shared what she did in a similar situation:

I had a [sister-in-law] like that. Very rude and grabby. I gave all the baby clothes to my friend instead-she was very grateful.

Several suggested reselling or donating her old baby clothes instead of giving them to family:

Sorry, no way would I be giving the clothes to her, family or no family. Can’t stand rude [people] like her who expect things to be handed to them. I would feel ashamed making comments like she’s made. I would gladly drive to the next town though and donate the clothes to a charity shop.

However, there were others who found the mom’s attitude about her things distasteful — especially after the mom’s statement she had spent “thousands” on baby clothing:

Mean spirited attitude. “I’ve spent lots of money, I want you to also spend lots, even though mine are literally just sitting there doing nothing.” I was with you to begin with, but your attitude is worse than theirs.

Another commenter wrote:

Up to you but I think it’s a bit mean to not pass them on just because you had to pay for them so don’t want them to get anything for free. How wasteful and a little spiteful.

For many of the more experienced moms, the question boiled down to a practical one. Sure, the sister-in-law might be a bit presumptuous, but why would you keep a bunch of old baby clothes? One mom wrote:

Well what do you plan on doing with them? I’ll happily give away all of my kids stuff when they’re done, they fetch pennies if you try and sell them because the market is saturated.

Another wrote:

I think it’s a bit cheeky of her, but I happily passed on a few pieces to a couple of friends once my son had grown out of them. I only wish I could have off-loaded the lot!

What’s more, some people didn’t find the sister-in-law’s attitude offensive, as their own experience was that things were happily passed around in families. One wrote:

In my family we would always, always help each other out like that. People would assume, not because they’re grabby or rude but because we always help each other out and share. We do expect it of each other because it honestly wouldn’t occur to one of us not to help out someone else, especially when it is something like that. If you don’t need them it is zero effort for you to pass them on. Why wouldn’t you? But families are different. Perhaps hers are just used to supporting each other.

Another commenter in a similar situation wrote:

Between our family both immediate and extended we have always packed up, labelled and handed down clothes, and then got them back if we needed them either for someone else or ourselves. I’m jealous that I was the first and never had the opportunity to receive hand me downs, but know that I’ve been a great source of savings to the rest of the family that have come after me. I wouldn’t and never considered not passing them on.

And a few urged the mom to look at the sister-in-law’s comments in a more generous light. Maybe her sister-in-law was admiring her taste. Or just struggling with her own emotions about wanting a family and expressing it clumsily. Since the mom’s kids are still using the clothes, there’s no need to be angry or make plans yet.

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