I am the first to admit that it is hard to avoid shopping for a baby or even an infant. The clothes are often quite cute and the patterns so precious. Lately I can’t stop looking at this Carhartt jacket for our little Tilly Madison. I have to catch myself from ordering it. However, a $40 jacket that may be warn a total of 4-6 weeks is a bit excessive. It wouldn’t be being a good steward of money by any means and we certainly want to teach by example. Nonetheless, I can understand how her aunts and uncles as well as cousins and grandparents could fall prey to their own precious proclivities. But with so many ways to now trade, sell, buy, swap, and/or donate baby clothes/toys/gear, etc. there may be a way suited to you for giving new life to older items or extending the life of an impulsive purchase!
Let’s start with the basics. How do you make hand-me-downs seem more exciting or *new* ?
First of all, I grew up #4 of 5 children. For me, hand-me-downs were a way of life. So long as the jeans didn’t have grass stains and the shoes were still soled, I was going to be wearing them. I can even remember telling my older brother to be careful with a much coveted (in our house anyway) Atlanta Braves jersey so that when I got it it would still look nice.
- Revamping Shoes – It is amazing what a good shine on a pair of patent leather mary janes or some sneaker polish on old Nikes will do. You can often find a shoe shine man in a local airport or upscale hotel. You can also look in the yellow pages or online for shoe repair. They will know where to go. Shoe polish can be found at most athletic shoe stores. I prefer the Kiwi Sport Whitener available even at big box stores. (this of course for white sneakers only!)
- Customizing shirts – Even though the ’60s are long gone tie dye will probably live forever. There is nothing better than taking a tshirt and giving it a tie dye treatment. It can cover unwanted stains, fade out logos, and even make your child a trendsetter (in that retro sort of way!). You can also use sew on patches and appliques to make a plain shirt or onesie something a little more fun. I recently came across this idea of turning a plain onesie into a very cute dress. For button up shirts and even heavier cotton shirts you can always add fun buttons to give a little more flair!
- When in doubt, make capris – Jeans and pants can be given new life just by adding a bit or removing a bit. What do I mean? If those hand-me-down Osh Koshes need an inch or two consider adding ribbons and ruffles. It makes them brighter, can add color coordination with a favorite shirt, and give a few more months on expired pants. I’ve also been known to take some highwaters and make capris. I am not a fan of shorts from pants or jeans as they often still don’t fit right. But a good pair of caribbean style capris are always fashionable. This video may help some!
Another area where hand-me-downs can save both money and resources is in the baby gear arena. Not every child has to have a brand new this and a shiny new that. When we found out we were going to become parents we instantly spoke to my sibling who already had children as well as to a few friends and scored a self-propelled baby swing, a high chair, a pack ‘n play, a carseat, a carrier, a stroller, and even a PowerWheels car (when the time comes, of course!)…all for FREE! In fact, they were just happy to have the product used again.
So why not talk to friends and family who recently had babies to see if they want to get rid of anything? If any of the things they have are a bit dated, or you aren’t sure that they meet current safety regulations, you can take part in the Babies R Us Great Trade In events that are held a few times a year. Through the event, you can trade in the items that you aren’t sure about for new baby gear items and get 25% off! You should also consider safety and any damage that may prevent the equipment from functioning properly. In our case we were nervous about the carseat/carrier because they do carry an expiration date. Luckily there is a website dedicated to informing parents like us. Come to find out, we were A-OK!
We didn’t stop there though. Yes, we registered at a couple of stores but we also thought about what we could find for next to nothing. With the help of my sister and mom we hit up yard sales, garage sales, auctions, etc. and found tons of clothes (a lot unworn, even!), early childhood toys, books by the billions, and storage baskets. We are still receiving clothes (in 3 month sizing patterns) from my sister who continues to hunt down the sales. I would suggest staying away from items like teething toys, breastfeeding pump attachments, potties, or even baby baths for sanitary reasons.
Perhaps though the most popular fad in baby clothes/gear repurposing is the online swap. We have joined a couple ourselves and even received a swap box from one. Check out:
- thredup – Box up your child’s outgrown clothes by size and season and post them online for other moms to browse. Ship your box directly to the mom who picks it. You pay $9/box plus the $10.95 for USPS shipping. Each box has more than 10 items so you are easily getting each clothing item for $2.
- Swap Baby Goods – The site is a great, friendly place for parents to swap, buy, or sell baby items they no longer need. Why buy when you can swap?
- Swapmamas – Mom community meets swapping site!
- handmedowns.com – A website where parents can buy, sell, swap, or even give away for free their gently used children and baby goods.
- swap.com – Swap.com is the biggest community of swappers in the world, helping people turn what they have into what they want. There is a specific baby section.
- diaperswappers – A huge community of buyers/sellers/swappers that focus around cloth diapering but extend into every area.
Whatever you decide to do to recycle or reuse or repurpose your baby clothes and baby gear know that there is a community out there. Remember, one momma and daddy’s junk is another momma and daddy’s treasure!