Over the years, my perspective on what a baby needs has changed. I’ve learned that you can pretty much get away without buying anything brand new for your baby. I’ve always been frugal, but with my first, I was a little more naive when it came to buying things used instead of new. I have since come to my senses and saved a lot.
I’m due a month from now with our fourth little munchkin. It’s not surprising that after three kids, there’s not much we need. We’ve kept our boy and girl clothes over the years, so we are set whether this one is blue or pink (we’re going with the old fashioned surprise). We’ve also kept some other baby essentials that we love.
These recommendations of baby things you can buy used come from my own personal experience and, while valuable to me, they may differ from your experience and recommendations. That’s cool– we can still be friends. I would love to hear your opinions on what baby things you are willing (and not willing) to buy used in the comments!
If you have a baby shower, you will most likely get lots of clothes for your little one. If you have friends with kids, they are probably willing to lend you their baby’s outgrown wardrobe. Garage sales and thrift stores often have baby clothes in like-new condition since babies may only wear an outfit a couple of times before out growing it. For more ideas and inspiration, read 6 Ways to Get Kids Clothes Free or Cheap and 6 Reasons to Buy Kids Clothes Secondhand.
With our first, I was eager to get a baby bath like my sister used with her first (this one). I loved that it had little sling for when she was an infant, a slanted side for when she was older and a straight side for when she was sitting up. We ordered one brand new. Once I started frequenting yard sales and thrift stores, I learned they are readily available for $2-5. If I had asked around, I’m sure I could have borrowed one too. Many people forgo the baby tub altogether and just use the sink.
I like being able to keep the baby close to me, but still be out and about and productive, so I knew I wanted some sort of carrier. With our first, I bought a Moby Wrap brand new. I loved it and used it with all of my kids, but with a $40+ price tag, it’s pretty expensive for a long piece of stretchy fabric. Check Craigslist and thrift stores. I have bought and resold a Maya Wrap and several Baby Bjorn carriers that I have found for a few dollars each at garage sales and thrift stores. You can also borrow a carrier from a friend or family member.
A car seat is probably the number one baby item that people will insist you should buy new so that you know it isn’t expired and has never been in a collision. I agree, but must admit that we have never purchased a new infant car seat.
With our first, we bought the car seat and stroller combo (“travel system”) from a trusted friend who bought it new the year before. It had never been in an accident and was well within the safe time frame (generally 6 years from the date it was manufactured). We used that car seat for our first two kiddos. Then I sold the combo for $40 (the same price I paid back when I bought it). For our third, we borrowed a car seat from a friend who wasn’t using it. We were thrilled because it went up to 30 lbs (most only go up to 22 lbs). This meant we could use it past 5 months (our babies come out big and don’t slow down).
For us, a Pack-n-Play has always been handy piece of baby equipment. We bought ours used from a friend (same friend we got the car seat combo from). It came with a bassinet overlay like this one which is perfect for when the baby is small so you don’t have to reach all the way down to pick up the baby in the middle of the night. It doesn’t take up much space and it is portable. It’s great for taking on overnight trips with a baby or toddler.
I am squeamish about used mattresses. However, unlike other mattress sizes which accumulate all manner of grossness in them, crib mattress are almost always have a waterproof vinyl cover. They are a cinch to wipe off and disinfect. Of course I wouldn’t buy a mattress if it smelled like it came from a smoker’s home or had any other odd odor. We have never purchased a new crib mattress. For several years we had three kids on crib mattresses: one in a crib and two in toddler beds. I should also note that we don’t usually put our kids in a crib until they’re about somewhere between 9-12 months.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you when I tell you we’ve never purchased a new crib either. I bought our first crib at a yard sale when my daughter was about a year old (up until then she slept in the Pack-n-Play). It converted into a toddler bed, so we needed a crib for #2 who was just a year and a half younger. We got a hand-me-down from a friend of a friend. You can look up product recalls by searching online, or use your own good judgment.
Eewww– used diapers? If they’re cloth, then yes! We didn’t start cloth diapering until our third was about 10 months old (that’s when we moved to the boonies), but now we’re sold on the idea. Even that year of cloth diapering saved us so much money, and now we’re totally diaper-equipped for our next little one. Buying cloth diapers used, borrowing them, or making your own are just a few of the ways to save money on diapers. I wrote a thorough article about how you can get cloth diapers free or cheap.
If you choose to get a swing, bouncy seat, stroller, baby monitor, etc you can probably find most of them used too. You’ll save a lot of money by buying your baby gear used. When you’re done with it, you can sell it and get your money back or store it away for the next baby.
Babies don’t have to be as expensive as those crazy statistics say!
How about you?
- What baby products have you bought used or borrowed?
- What baby things would you not buy used?
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I totally agree with buying used baby clothes! They grow out of them so fast! We also borrowed a baby bath tub and rock-n-play. And I got a hand-me-down carrier from my mom, and bought a used Moby online!
Oh and we got a hand-me-down used swing and bouncer from a family friend! Score!
Danielle, The Frugal Navy Wife says
4 kids and I hardly ever buy new kid clothes. Many times we get hand me downs, also buy used or borrow a stroller! Some of them can be VERY expensive.
By the way, LOVE your blog and I have been following every week for months now. Thank you for recommending YNAB. Amazing.
I LOVE this list and couldn’t agree more. I had two girls in 2004 and 2005. For my first, I had several showers thrown for me and received all the bigger, necessary items like strollers and an infant carseat and clothes. Oh my goodness so many clothes that I didn’t need to buy any for a year (I didn’t register for any either). People even bought me all those non necessary items like the diaper genie. I laugh to think about myself using it. I am pretty practical when it comes to gift registries. I only include what is necessary (even diapers) and I never include clothing. My boss at the time gave us their used crib and mattress and I remember borrowing a baby tub. My mother in law also found a really good condition, used Medela pump. But whenever I needed something for the girls I would just buy brand new and not really think about it.
In 2009 we made a huge out of state move from Michigan to Virginia when the girls were 3 and 4. We thought we may have more children but we didn’t have the space to haul our baby stash with us into a small apartment and it wasn’t worth it to pay for a storage unit. I gave everything to a young, first time mom in our church in Michigan. She got the mother load! Lol.
We just had our baby boy in Sept. 2014 and it was so different this time around. Maybe just because I’m older? Hopefully a little wiser? Less impulsive? 🙂 The girls were 10 and 8 throughout my pregnancy so I had been through the baby and toddler years and even those early school years and realized how little they truly need just to be safe and happy. I also can’t stand clutter and I didn’t want our home over run with baby contraptions and toys. I knew straightaway I did not want a changing table at all, or a baby tub (I used the bathtub as is). Plus I had just landed my dream job and we moved into our new home so my days were filled with teaching and painting our house and I didn’t have much time to think about it.
I had two different moms give me bags full of baby clothes their kids didn’t need anymore. I bought one sleeper I thought was cute and some socks. The women at my work threw a shower for me and bought us every car seat he would need until he was out of carseats/boosters. So thankful. We were using the heirloom cradle my dad had made for me when I was an infant in the early 80’s. And my Medela pump was paid for in full by our insurance company and shipped to our door (thank you!), a necessity for when I would return to work.
Honestly, at almost 6 months old the only things we consistently buy are formula (he’s not breastfed anymore), diapers (we use disposable), and clothes as he needs them but I get all of them second hand at consignment. The big ticket item we purchased was a new crib that converts into a toddler bed and mattress but I shopped around until I got a good deal for our area and we did not buy it until he was 4 months old. And our house isn’t cluttered with baby contraptions! 😉
I never bought a baby crib at all. For my first, we had planned on just using the pack and play, at least for the first few months while the bassinet worked well for us. About a week into that plan, my husband got tired of the constant up and down at night, laid me down and placed the baby next to me. So started my co-sleeping habit, and, I have to say, I never looked back.
However, I do have to say that I have read some interesting things regarding SIDS and crib mattresses. One pediatrician looked into the possibility of the deaths being caused by the mattresses themselves, in the form of heavier than air toxic gasses generated by the interaction of fungal growth and the fire retardants used in all the crib mattresses sold now. While this theory has not been picked up in the mainstream SIDS advice, a wide scale use of gas-impermiable wraps in New Zealand has resulted in some interesting statistics. Namely, that since the promotion in 1995 of this practice, and its adoption by over 200,000 families, not one of the infants sleeping on a mattress so wrapped has died of SIDS, as opposed to 1020 deaths on beds not wrapped. (link to page with statistics placed below)
What does this have to do with used mattresses, you ask? Well, it has long been known that the risk of SIDS increases with each subsequent child, single parents, young parents, minority parents. All of those situations have the likelihood of second hand mattress use being higher. Why does that matter? If fungal growth causing toxic gas is the culprit, then the longer the mattress has been used, the longer that growth has had to establish itself, and the more toxic it gets the older the mattress.
I haven’t bought any new clothes for either of my boys. Between gifts, hand-me-downs, and thrift stores, I’m sure I’ve saved tons! We have a crib from a sister-in-law and our toddler is on a twin mattress on the floor. It’s from the twin bed I had in college and when he’s older, we’ll put it back on the frame. I’ve gotten our strollers from classifieds. I did want a new car seat and purposefully bought one that had a higher weight limit. Our first was in it until his second birthday and four months later his newborn baby brother used it. It still has two years before it expires, so hopefully we’ll get one more use out of it.
We’re expecting our first and we’re trying to keep the list of stuff to things we either really need or really want. Getting used stuff makes a lot of sense to me, except we have a bunch of very kind family and friends who want to buy us things for a baby shower. It’s kind of hard to register for used things.
I always like the idea of just getting good, quality, used items but then I would have friends and family beg me to make a gift registry so they knew what we were looking for. I always put exactly what I wanted and would truly need on there (crib, stroller, car seat, diapers, etc.) and most of the time, even though they are big ticket items, they would go in together to help purchase the more expensive things. We waited until the very last minute to buy anything to make sure someone wouldn’t gift it to us. Many times after my showers I would have people ask what they could get for us and I would just tell them where I was registered. Anything that we didn’t get we looked for used or at a discount later. Some registries (like Target) will even give you coupons off your items left on your registry.
Sarah @ little bus on the prairie says
With our first we bought expensive new stuff, too and I look back on that and just have to roll my eyes at myself. To be fair, I think that often when people have their first they haven’t had the chance to build up a network of other parents to borrow and trade with.
We are expecting baby #5 this fall and there are a few things I have bought new over the years. We bought a used car seat with our first and by the time our second came it was about to expire so we bought new. I am a little picky about car seats. We also bought a new pack in play with our 4th, but other then that we buy things second hand or willing take hand me downs. This pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, and so I have given most of my baby things away to families who really needed clothing and such, so we kind of get to start all over again, which is a little exciting.
Mrs SSC says
I bought as much as possible used when I had my kids. One thing I realized that I tell all expecting moms is that all they really need are diapers, boobs and your love. Everything else is icing! There is just such a huge industry out there trying to convince insecure first time moms that so much gear is required for babies! Anyways – I agree with you – there are things I wouldn’t buy used – among them a car sear (For safety) and a mattress (for icky). I did actually borrow some cloth diapers to try them out – so technically I used used diapers!
Stacey @ creatingmyhappiness.com says
Oh, I’m soooooo guilty of falling into the shiny new baby stuff trap! And now that we’re probably not going to be adding to our family, it seems all the more wasteful. Live and learn, I guess!