Over the coming weeks, CharlotteFive writer Liz Logan will be sharing her thoughts on being pregnant in Charlotte, from where to eat, places to go out and finding a group of mom friends. Have questions or column ideas? Email Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her previous stories about finding your supportive ‘mom tribe,’ places to satiate your pregnancy cravings, and four options for getting out of the house and having a little fun before the baby comes.
If I am anything, I’m thrifty. Paying full price for most anything seems ridiculous. I don’t know about the rest of the world but, as my parents always used to say, “Sweetie, I’m not made out of money.”
The majority of what we have in our house is secondhand and I’m a teensy bit proud of that. These items have character, individuality and set me back far less financially than if I’d run to the store or hopped on Amazon to buy things new.
So how does this translate for a new baby? With my first kid, I felt this compulsion to get all new items for the new baby, and felt a thick layer of ickiness when I thought about wrapping my brand-new tiny human in anything that wasn’t brand-new and freshly pressed. Fast forward to baby No. 3 and this idea has long since passed. This time around, we have been offered most everything for free from folks cleaning out attics and garages, and couldn’t be happier. We’ve only spent roughly $85 so far and even that was on a secondhand dresser and rocking chair, and the entire nursery is done.
For those muddling through what to buy brand new and what to acquire secondhand, I’ve compiled some tips to help you mull it all over.
(1) Car seats
We are starting here because it is a resounding “no” — do not buy these secondhand. In fact, it’s the only straight no. I wish more than anything it was OK — mainly because these things get expensive and you can end up having to buy three or four over time. But nonetheless, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly suggests getting a new car seat, and even requires a car seat to be replaced after having been in a wreck. Safety first, finances second.
Different story. These monstrosities take up so much space that once baby outgrows a stroller, most folks are dying to get rid of them — so take them up on it! I’ve gotten a Chicco snap-in stroller and a running stroller both for free from friends decluttering. Sure, the carrier/car seat should be brand spankin’ new but a used stroller is a-OK.
(3) Cloth diapers
It sounds gross but I swear it’s not. This will be my second baby to be cloth diapered with secondhand diapers. But even if you do purchase them brand new (average about $15 each), you will save a considerable amount over time compared to using disposables. Cloth diapers can be cleaned and sanitized, and if you lay them out in the sun, Mother Earth does you a great favor by lifting stains right out. Used are considerably cheaper and often, people are more than happy to give them away. Request to join this cloth diapering buy/sell/trade group on Facebook or check out Craigslist or Kid to Kid consignment.
Yes. A hundred times yes, get one used if you can. You will use a crib for roughly 18 months and will then be stuck buying a new bed. You can usually find a ton on Craigslist, at yard sales or at consignment stores. If you have to rebuild it, make sure to take before pictures or download instructions online if the previous owner doesn’t have them.
Have you ever looked at the sizes on baby clothes? Zero to 3 months, 3-6, 6-9, etc.? The point is that your little mini-me is growing at an exponential rate and new clothes won’t last very long. If someone offers you a spit-up stained onesie, take it! Because odds are, your new little dumpling is just going to destroy whatever they are wearing anyway, so to pay money to ruin a brand new shirt makes as much sense as waking your baby to feed them.
This list could go on because basically all baby gear (excluding car seats) is fair game for secondhand. Buying or acquiring secondhand for your baby saves tons of money, not to mention potential waste. So the next time you are marking things off the “baby needs” list, hit up Value Village or ask around first. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you’ll find.
Photo: The Land of Nod/Charlotte Observer file