There are so many reasons that shopping secondhand just makes sense when you are raising a baby.
- Babies wear clothes for such a short period of time before they outgrow them. A significant amount of money could be spent if purchasing each outfit they will wear (especially in the first year when they go through 4-5 sizes).
- Babies wear clothes for such a short period of time before they outgrow them. It's very rare that a piece of clothing has been worn very many times before it's outgrown. Finding baby clothes in very good condition is fairly easy at secondhand stores.
- If you purchase something secondhand and it ends up not fitting well or you don't like the look of it on your baby, you are out very little money versus buying an item new at a store.
- Many children are bought more toys than they need by well-meaning parents and grandparents. Many of these gently used toys end up in thrift stores. They are a great find!
Shopping secondhand for Meghan's needs has already saved us so much money in her first year! I hold tightly to my price point of $2 per clothing item for her. By shopping holiday sales and shopping color sales at stores that host those, I can purchase name brand clothes for my daughter for $2 or less per item; I am firm on that price point. I have managed to purchase almost every clothing item my daughter has worn (outside of gifts) for $2 or less.
Items I thrift for Meghan include: shirts, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, leggings/tights, bibs, jackets, pajamas, books, baby gear, and toys.
Items I do not/will not thrift for Meghan include: underwear/swimsuits, socks, and generally plain onesies. I can usually get a set of plain white onesies when they are on sale/clearance for less than I can thrift them.
I am willing to shop ahead sizes for Meghan - if I didn't do this, I don't think I could stick to such a low price point. I shop ahead for pants, jammies, t-shirts, and multi-season dresses. These things can be worn regardless of what season Meghan ends up being ready for the size:
- A few pairs of pants are necessary even in the summertime. If she enters a size in the winter, I may look for a few more pairs of pants. If she's in that size in the summer, I will look for shorts. This past summer she wore mostly just her onesie. I won't purchase shorts ahead of time because some companies make them ridiculously short and I want to wait to purchase them until she is in the size so I can be sure the length is appropriate. If necessary, shorts are a clothing item I would be willing to purchase new if that were the only way to be sure I could purchase some that were modest.
- I layer long-sleeved white onesies under t-shirts if Meghan wears a size during the winter. This adds a layer of warmth during cold weather and allows t-shirts to be an all-year clothing item. I can usually find white onesies for less than $2 easily.
- Meghan tends to be cold and so she has worn long-sleeved, pants-length jammies all year long. In the summer, she may wear just a onesie or t-shirt. We will see how this changes as she grows, but at least in the little sizes, zip up jammies are appropriate all year long.
- Simple cotton playdresses can be worn as is during the summer or with a long-sleeved shirt and leggings/tights during the winter. Denim jumpers and any skirts can be worn in all seasons using the same techniques.
We shop secondhand for larger items as well! Large items and toys that we have purchased secondhand for Meghan include:
- Baby Einstein Jumperoo - We purchased this after she was here and we saw how much additional sensory input her body needed
- ERGO - Granted, this was a super lucky find (I've done it twice now - once for me and once for my sister!) - it's something to be watching for!
- Halo Sleep Sacks - These tend to be expensive new. Most of ours have been purchased second-hand.
- Jeep Liberty Urban Terrain Jogging Stroller - We haven't used this yet, we just purchased it at the beginning of the winter, but I am excited to put it to good use this spring!
- Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair - We got the chair free, we simply had to purchase a seat pad for it.
- BabySmart Cooshee Booster Seat - I love these seats, so when I found one, I scooped it up. Meghan will grow into it eventually!
- Little People Farms - Looking around for these and their pieces has proven to be successful!
- Several other toys (really, probably, at least 3/4 of her toys).
- Most of Meghan's board books.
Large items that we would not purchase secondhand are: carseats. Under no circumstance would I purchase a carseat from a thrift store or Craigslist where I cannot be sure that I know it's entire history. I might buy a carseat from a friend who I completely trust to be honest about its history - as long as the seat has not passed it's expiration date and has never been in any accident (no matter how small). The potential danger to my child in an accident is not worth any amount of money saved!
Secondhand shopping for baby has been an very wonderful way for our family to save money. The stats on how much it costs to raise a kid are staggering. But our secondhand lifestyle combined with our cloth diapering have kept the cost of having a baby quite low for our family. Despite the unexpcted costs that came with having to formula feed and needing to purchase therapy items for our sweet Meghan's special needs, we have spent so much less in her first year than the statistics would have predicted!