Keeping Toys Organized?

Updated on July 05, 2011
D.H. asks from Katy, TX
14 answers

I have a one-year-old and three-year-old who have a LOT of toys. They have a playroom upstairs, but we spend most of our time downstairs, so they have two big toy boxes in our living room. I'm curious how to keep all the toys organized. For instance we have Little People pieces upstairs and downstairs. Even things like shape sorters end up having pieces all over the house. I was thinking about using gallon sized ziplocs, but feel like those might be a suffocation risk. I'd love to hear how everybody else handles the chaos!

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So What Happened?

It took me a while to "think" about my game plan, then a bit more to shop, but I am feeling much more organized. First I made a huge pile of all the medium to large sized cars/trucks/vehicles, and it turned out that we had a ridiculous amount. Now we have two boxes full of cars in the garage, and one box in a clear tub available for play. Plan is to rotate these in and out. I got a big basket for all the "food" toys, and leave that out so it is easy to toss things in at clean-up. I have a BIG clear tub for all the Little People stuff. Got one more smaller clear box with a lid for all the "tools." I put all the "baby" toys in a box, but think I will hold onto them for another year or so. I filled one big tub up with misc. toys and put that in the garage. Plan is to rotate that in and out with the one tub we have left in the LR. He also got a matchbox case for his bithday, so I try to make sure they all get packed up every night. Really hurts when you step on one of those! He has a second matchbox case full, that went into the tub in the garage. I haven't touched their playroom, but since it is upstairs, and they are young, it doesn't get used and/or trashed quite as much! I am feeling a lot more calm these days, and clean-up is a lot easier for all of us, and much quicker. They seem to be playing with things they hadn't in a while too, so it's a definite plus being organized.

Thanks for all the insight, and for letting me know I am not the only one overwhelmed by it all!

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

I ended up buying a bunch of hard clear plastic storage boxes. You can buy two or three different sizes to help contain things. Find one with easy snap lids. My kids did best with one where the handle helps to lock the lid in place so stuff doesn't fall out when you're carrying them around.

Also collapsible "boxes" (thing kind with the metal spring and mesh lining) worked well for collecting toys that ended up in other parts of the house. Then just make a game where once a week you get everything resorted into the normal containers.

Having the plastic storage boxes also made it easy to rotate the kid's toys. Stash tow or three boxes in the closet and then replace/rotate it with the toys that aren't being played with every other month. The kids tend to play with the toys longer and tired of them less.

Sooo you can one of the pop-up container for the loose pieces down stairs and just keep a bigger plastic upstairs that can hold them all -even though it will be half empty.

More Answers



answers from Austin on

Lots of small baskets for the different toys.... and if you are trying to teach them to help pick them up, you can tape a picture of the toy group on the basket and tell them to match the toy to the picture!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I recently bought three 10 gallon storage tubs and divided the smaller toys up (trying to keep sets together) and tossed them into the tubs. I let my son (he is 2 1/2) have one tub of toys to play with at a time and we have been rotating tubs about once or twice a week. Cleanup has become so easy, all he has to do it throw it back in the tub. He knows that before he is allowed to play with anything in one of the other storage tubs he has to clean up his current toys first. I also keep things like Legos in their own box and he can play with those when he requests them, otherwise they are stored out of his reach.



answers from Norfolk on

I've been wondering the same thing. The little toys all fit in the toy box just fine but my daughter has all kinds of big things. She has a tub, high chair, crib, stroller, shopping cart, & vacuum that of course don't fit in a toy box. We have an area for them but it still looks cluttered.

I separate the little stuff into small Dollar Tree boxes with lids (not that it helps). We have a bin for Little People things, bags for Lego type blocks, a small storage tote with lid for wooden blocks. I'd give a little thought about how you'd like to organize the items and then head to the Dollar Tree with a list. Paste a picture of the item you want stored in the box and let your kids go to town. I have a feeling our kids will never put things in the order we'd like them but I guess as long as it's put away we should happy, huh? lol! Good luck and happy organizing!



answers from Harrisburg on

Get rid of the little toys choking hazards or store those away out of sight. Keep toys you see them play with more often, organize those. My rule now is whatever cannot get cleaned up in one minute or be stored in one large container goes to someone else who needs it.



answers from Dallas on

My mother-in-law found pop-up clothes hampers at the dollar store and purchased 10 of them for me. They are big enough to store a lot of stuff and have handles so they are easily carried around. I have lego pieces in one, doll parts in another, play food and kitchen gear. I even put some coloring books in one. It helps keep them together and helps the kids put the back in the right spot during clean up time. I can easily carry them from room to room if they want to play somewhere other than the playroom.



answers from Austin on

Hi D.,

After spending a boat-load of money on plastic bins, I eventually grew dissatisfied with their appearance and up keep. Since then I have purchased 2 IKEA Expedit bookcases and loaded them with mesh storage boxes. While it is initially a little costly, I am very pleased with the appearance of the storage and these will grow with my children even into their teen years as you can put doors on them, make them into drawers, etc. And they store a ton! And the mesh boxes are easy to see into and easy for little ones to carry. Good luck!



answers from Houston on

At that age I like the shelves with plastic bins you can get at walmart or target.

For some things I use plastic tubs- maybe one just for little people, one for blocks, etc depending on the size of the collection. You can label or tape a picture to the tub/bin.

Make clean up fun- like a game seeing how many little people they can find to put in the bin, or how fast they can put the little people up. Then move onto blocks, etc as time/patience permits.

If the sheer amount of toys is overwhelming you can rotate some bins in and out of the closet on a weekly or monthly basis. Toys that my kids had stopped playing with for a while instantly became "new" and exciting again once they reappeared from where I was hiding them. Honestly I get overwhelmed when there are too many toys out and I think they do too!

Oh and I second the pop up container idea- I keep a popup bag with handles at the bottom of the stairs. Then whatever needs to go up gets popped into the bag over the course of the day and I carry it up at bedtime.



answers from Austin on

I bought clear storage boxes in several sizes, from the Container Store, they all fit on shelves and smaller ones stack onto bigger ones. The lids are a little difficult for children to get off, but I only keep lids on the smaller ones that I stack and DD has to ask to get those toys out and they get put away. The little people playsets fit into the large size boxes, easy for me to tote and store, easy for DD to see what is inside and put away. My husband used shelves from Home Depot and lined one of our closets with shelves - there are 5 shelves total. It holds the boxes perfectly. Also, I have used the "sorting bins" that you can get at Target and just throw things in there when play time is done, but it always gets messy looking and lots of things get overlooked because it's overwhelming. We still use it, but it seems I have to go through and reorganize it every month or so.



answers from San Francisco on

Until you children learn to pick up their own toys and like them enough to take care of them, you are fighting a losing battle. The only thing I can suggest with the three year old is to talk with him/her about picking up the toys when play time is over or before its time for bed OR the toys may not be there in the morning! If you do that, you must follow through and remove the toys. Put them in a big bag and put them in a place where they can't be found. If your children develop better habits after a few weeks, return the toys. If they don't allow them only to play with a few things at a time and start giving old toys away.




answers from Austin on

My son is 28 mo and I just have a few large, lightweight trunks (I stuck a toy ring on the edge so the lid will never pinch on his fingers) and stopped keeping things "together". You can find nice ones at Ross. :)

It was just impossible to do it every day and I realized that by having rules about what goes where I wasn't allowing him to learn and participate in the more important lesson of helping to clean up! :) Now we keep things in very loose categories if my husband or I are cleaning, but if he's cleaning I try to be hands off and let him throw it all in the trunk. It also makes playtime a bit of a treasure hunt which he enjoys!


answers from Washington DC on

I HAD (it's listed on ebay) a Tonka Toy has six buckets/tubs to put things in!!

It helped out a, we have bigger toys so we have the rubbermaid clear plastic tubs and a shelving unit....



answers from Victoria on

i also have a one and three yr old. i find that organizing toys is too difficult for my three yr old so i do it. i also have different little bins in my girls room one for dolls, one for little ppl, and two for little things like balls, stacking rings, play phones. In my sons room he has a box for play clothes(dress up clothes) and one for sports balls, one for music, and another for stuffed toys. We have a 15x15 and about a foot tall basket for all his little matchbox cars, ninjaz, phone, rubber snakes and other things that arent able to group together. So basically its several different containers and then one junk drawer so to say! Our bins dont match we use what we have (a pail, a wicker basket, wooden boxes, some of the toys came in a box like the play clothes. ) but truly i am the one that keeps stuff organized. i go threw it once or twice a month.


answers from Kansas City on

I keep all of the smaller things (legos, blocks, train tracks, little people, puzzles, ect) each in their own basket on the top shelf of the closet. We have a plastic 3 drawer thing that is 12''x12'' that I got at Wal-Mart- it sits on the table in the living room and has all of my sons Imaginext men and extras in it along with all of his matchbox cars and other small stuff.

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