Buying baby and kid stuff is pretty fun and kid’s marketing geared at new parents is greatly effective in convincing that you need all this STUFF. But just hold on, there are things you can save on by borrowing or buying used. Kids grow fast, their interests change from day to day and with all the resources out there to find what you need for a bargain price, why wouldn’t you want to see what you should buy new or used.
So, what should you buy new or used and where should you look:
CRIB / CARSEAT: Unless you are absolutely certain that key pieces such as a crib and car seat come from a trust-worthy, reliable and smoke-free home, have never been in an accident and don’t show signs of wear and tear, for first time parents this is a HUGE peace of mind to have a new crib and car seat. (Make sure to put them on your registry!) Choose a car seat that can grow with your baby if you don’t mind not having an infant carrier. These have 7-9 year warranties depending on the brand and transition from a rear facing, to forward facing convertible car seat and then to a booster as they grow.
BOTTLES/PACIFIERS: Personally, I know you can buy bottles and pacifiers used or borrowed but I like to start brand new and hand down through my own kids. I know bottles come fresh and sterilized and then through each child, I buy new nipples and sterilize for the next go-around. This is a personal choice because I know some people that buy used and are OK with that too.
SHOES: I buy used shoes up to a certain age and size and then I switch to buying new. There is a point where feet are growing at a rapid pace and it seems they’re wearing a new size every month but not wearing the shoes hard enough to impact the soles and inserts. I have borrowed or bought used shoes up to about a Toddler Size 5 for all of my kids and that’s when they were starting to wear their shoes longer and harder and I noticed their little feet were wearing into the pads / inserts of the shoes. That’s when I switch to buying brand new. When your kids are wearing used shoes that are already molded to another child’s unique footprint – and I guarantee they aren’t the same size, shape and arch to your own child – it can cause joint and discomfort issues.
My one exception to this rule are snow boots and rain boots – these are seasonal and aren’t being worn everyday, all day and I’m not worried about the soles being molded to another’s foot.
HYGENIC/HEALTH EQUIPMENT: It’s a good idea to start with new items in this category; nail clippers, aspirator, and thermometer. While some of these items may be sanitized, they don’t cost a lot of money and do you really want to test the spread of germs?
CLOTHES: Its nice to have a going home from the hospital outfit or something for pictures (and of course a new outfit once in a while), but you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on baby and kid clothes because they go through them so incredible fast! Especially in the first year, I felt like I was constantly changing out sizes in dressers and closets to keep up with growing little bodies. More expensive pieces like winter coats, jeans and snowsuits are great to find at a consignment store or by shopping on ebay and can save you a ton.
TOYS: If you haven’t already noticed, kids don’t have long attention spans so their interest in toys lasts about five minutes before they move onto the next one. I’ve learned the hard way by thinking I’ve found THE present which of course, cost a pretty penny and they were more interested in something that was less than $5.00 or just the gift bag it came in. I kick myself every time thinking I’ve finally found “it” only to be disappointed that it didn’t keep them busy for very long and most likely broke within the first week. I quickly discovered the thrift store when I could still find educational, sensory and fun toys for a fraction of the cost. I don’t feel guilty if they break it or they don’t show much interest because I didn’t spend much. Also, my experience is that consignment stores still price their toys more expensive than thrift stores even if it’s the same toy but if you have a coupon, it could work out to be a good deal.
I’ve had a lot of luck finding larger toys and play structures on Craigslist and garage sales for about 1/4th of the price (and keep in mind the listed price is often negotiable.) Our favorite finds include a slide, trampoline, climbing structure and strider bikes. The best thing about craigslist? If you’re looking for these items, you know other people are as well so when your kids outgrow the toys or loose interest, just list and resell back on Craigslist and they pick it from your house. Most of the time I can resell the item for the same price I bought it, so I pretty much rent the item for free. If you are planning on selling items back, you’re going to have the best luck during the spring and summer and before Christmas.
BOOKS: Baby books are expensive especially when you’re starting a collection. At $5 – $10 each, 10 books for $50.00 sounds like a lot especially when you can compare that to $.50 – $1.00 each at a thrift or consignment store where you’ll walk away with 20 – 40 for the same amount. I’ve had no problem finding brand new and gently used board, pop-up, touch and feel, holiday and storybooks for kids of all ages.
What’s even better and FREE – the library.
EQUIPMENT: High Chairs, bouncers, swings, play mats, pack ‘n play, activity centers, walkers, etc. These can all be sourced from used areas – thrift stores, craigslist, consignment stores, garage sales and Mom’s area group sales. Do you want a $200 pack ‘n play or a $25 one? This is especially great when you’re just trying out equipment because you aren’t sure each child will like and dislike, and they’re all different so what worked with one may not work with the next.
STROLLERS: If it’s in great, working shape – buy it used! Especially great if you’re looking at a more expensive model or jogging stroller like a BOB that run $400+. I just bought a single BOB revolution stroller used with all of the attachments for $100 and it works perfectly. If you’re patient, take the time to search around to find what you want within your price range. And if you decide it’s not what you want, you can just as easily sell it on Craigslist or a garage sale for the same price you purchased it for. See the pattern here?
BABY CARRIERS: My twins never liked baby carriers (like the Baby Bjorn or Ergo) but my third child LOVES to be carried and close to me. Some babies just don’t like them or only want to be carried front facing, wrapped close and tight or facing your chest and you never know what is going to make them happiest until you try them out. Do you want to buy three new types of baby carriers before you find the right one? I was able to find a brand new Ergo Carrier of the latest edition on eBay for $50.00, which normally goes for $140+ at a box store.