Every parent knows that kids grow quickly – and the younger they are, the more quickly they grow. Many moms have the experience of having babies outgrow adorable little outfits before they even have a chance to wear them. It just makes sense, then, to consider buying used kids gear and clothes to keep your finances in check during the early years. Sometimes it’s not easy to find exactly what you’re looking for when you venture into the world of secondhand. Today we’re sharing some tips to help you navigate the world of used kids gear.
Guide to buying used kids gear
1. Safety First
It goes without saying that when it comes to your kids, safety comes first. If you’re shopping for used kids gear, it’s especially important to be sure that you’re buying high-quality, safe items. Do your research and check for recalls before buying furniture, swings and so on. For certain gear, knowing an item’s history is very important. Older car seats, for instance, may not meet current safety requirements. And if you’re not sure how it’s been used, or if it’s been in an accident, you can’t be certain that it’s still safe.
2. Hand-me-Downs are Gold
The best source for used kids gear, bar none, is a friend or family member with kids who are just a couple of years older than yours. Hand-me-downs are gold, as they’re typically free and often in very good shape. This is a particularly good way to get seldom-used but bigger-ticket items like snow pants, dress clothes and so on. Not everyone has a good source for hand-me-downs, but if you can find one, make sure you show your appreciation so that the used kids gear keeps coming.
3. Thrift Stores, Swaps, Yard Sales and Craigslist
If you don’t know someone who’s happy to pass on their own gently used items, buying secondhand is a great alternative. Thrift stores, kid swaps, yard sales and Craigslist are all great sources of cheap (and sometimes even free) used kids gear. It can be a little bit of work to find the really good stuff, but you will save more than enough money to justify the time you invest. Plus, bargaining is often possible. Just remember to keep safety in mind.
4. Consignment Shopping
Consignment stores and sales are a fabulous source for used kids gear. While some consignment stores are slightly more expensive than other secondhand shopping options, it’s still far cheaper than buying new. Also, someone has pre-sorted the gear so you don’t have to spend as much time sifting through it all to find the really good stuff. Plus, they usually do the safety checks for you, so you can shop with peace of mind. One innovative consignment sale, Just Between Friends. They inspect every item that walks in the door, so everything on sale meets all Health Canada safety regulations. You won’t have to worry about purchasing something that has been recalled, expired or isn’t permitted in Canada.
5. Remember to Share the Love
When it comes to used kids gear, make sure you maintain your good karma by sharing the love. Pass on your own gently-loved items once your little ones are done with them, offer them for consignment or donate them to a second-hand store. You’ll be doing your part to help other parents get off to a frugal start, while saving your used kids gear from the landfill. You’ll also know that your favourite little skirt is being enjoyed by other Vancouver families who love it every bit as much as you do.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.