It all starts so innocently. A new baby gets a furry friend in the form of a teddy bear. Then that bear gets a friend. And another. And yet another.
Parents know all too well the strange phenomena of stuffed animals adding to their number magically overnight. Before long, kids’ plush pals have taken over their rooms, the living room, and any other space they can find, blanketing all surfaces and covering up space meant to be used in a more practical manner. This pushes parents to get online and search for stuffed animal storage ideas.
The internet is awash with ideas for storing just about anything, but, before you get your heart set on one method, first tackle the overall issue says Megan Arthurs of H:OM Organizing.
“Sort stuffed animals into the following piles – keep, give to a friend or family, donate, sell, trash,” she says. Once the herd has been culled, “make sure stuffed animals have a home to live in! It’s important everyone in the house is on the same page where the stuffies go after they are played with. Using an organizing system where the stuffed animals live will help get the toys off the floor, but still is accessible and part of your child’s bedroom or playroom aesthetic.”
So what kind of organizing system should you choose? Here are some ideas for stuffed animal storage.
1. Under the Bed
“If you struggle with "stuffie-cation, the best way to keep them under control is by using under-the-bed storage,” says Sara Verwymeren of Three Pines Organizing. “This is a great way for your kids to keep their animals close, but out of sight.” Verwymeren recommends a soft fabric under-bed box with a zipper for accessibility.
2. Caged Corral
"My favorite products for stuffies belonging to younger kids is a bin or barrel that is open and big,” says Susie Salinas, founder and owner of Systems by Susie. “My husband and I jokingly refer to this as ‘Stuffed Animal Jail.’ The wide opening means kids can clean up their own stuffed animals and see what they have at the same time. It also gives parents an easy way to set a limit on the number of stuffed animals coming into the room. A full bin is an easy visual cue for kids. Encourage them to donate some they don’t play with as much to make room for new ones as they arrive.”
Sarah Giller Nelson, founder of Less is More Organizing Services, offers this advice: “Stuffed animals are one of the few categories of toys that I like to store in large open bins and toy boxes. The general rule of thumb is to keep large items in large bins, and small items in small ones. That way, tiny toys don't get lost or overlooked in large containers."
3. On the Wall
If your home layout or size limits your ability to use bins, buckets and baskets (all good storage ideas!), go vertical, says Arthurs.
“Perhaps an empty wall in a toy room or your child’s bedroom could use some shelves where stuffed animals can live,” she says.
“My other favorite way of organizing stuffed animals is to use them as part of the room display. We loved using picture ledge shelves for smaller animals,” agrees Verwymeren.
4. Hanging Hammock
Another wall hanging idea that is perfect for when you have space challenges is to use a stuffed animal hammock.
“For older kids with sentimental attachments to stuffed animals, but who don’t play with them as much anymore, a mountable toy hammock is a great option. They can still toss them into the net on their own and you gain some floor space back at the same time,” says Salinas.
5. Hide in Plain Sight
For those with truly small spaces, you might need a solution that doesn’t just store the stuffies but also makes them useful.
Salinas offers the idea of using a stuffable bean bag that can hold the toys and also be used as a place to sit.
“As long as your child is able to zip and unzip the zipper, they can still be responsible for cleaning up after playtime. And you can match the fabric to your decor, hiding the stuffed animals in plain sight,” she says.
6. Make Use of What You Already Have
A DIY storage solution, using items you already have around the home, can be ideal for those on a budget.
“A great way to save space is to use an over-the-door shoe holder to store stuffed animals,” says Salinas. “It gets them off of the floor and makes it super easy to find friends, and put them away.”
And even the most unexpected items can help you reclaim your space. "We also use macrame plant hangers or mesh bags to keep them off the floor and out of the way. They can be hung behind the door or in a closet to still keep the room free of clutter,” says Verwymeren.
No matter which method, or methods, you use to tame the stuffie clutter, make sure the location is compatible with the items you are storing.
“Make sure to store your extra stuffed animals in areas of your home that are climate controlled,” says Nelson. “Fabric of any sort will develop mildew and mold if kept in hot, humid or moisture-prone areas like garages, attics, and basements.”