So you're a new parent, and you want to get your baby all the latest and greatest baby gear. While those tiny clothes and fun toys are adorable, there are a lot of expenses you will likely need to account for in the first few years of your baby's life, and things can add up quickly. A 2017 NerdWallet study found that parents could spend anywhere between $1,900 (with a $40,000 household income) and $6,300 (with a $200,000 household income) in the first year of their child's life on miscellaneous items such as clothes, toys, and strollers.
There are some items that parents can splurge on, but with all the costs of raising a child, there are definitely areas where it might be best to cut back and buy gently used items instead. "Many new parents are surprised by the weight of baby expenses on their household budget," Adam Scherer, CFP, president and lead financial planner at virtual financial planning firm Greenbeat Financial, tells Parents. "With time and experience, the 'absolute needs' for a new baby become clear: sleep, food, clothing, and love," says Scherer, who is also a father of two.
"You can only use some baby items for a few years," Julie Ann Ensomo, founder of parenting blog, Adaptable Mama, tells Parents. "Some maybe just for a few months, or even weeks, if your baby hates it. It doesn't make sense to pay a full amount for something that you won't use for long," she adds. Here is a breakdown of baby items that you should consider buying used so you can stay within budget, and start saving more.
Cribs can cost you anywhere from $100 to over $3,000, according to Consumer Reports' crib buying guide. So if you're trying to cut costs, a crib is something that can be bought used. "While some people may be fearful of buying a used crib due to recalls, you can easily type the crib name and "recall" into Google to see if the crib has actually been recalled," says Olivia Tan, a personal finance coach and co-founder of online fax service CocoFax. A parent-to-be, Tan found a Pottery Barn crib (made of real wood) through a local Facebook group for moms for $200—the crib originally retailed for $899. "I looked at lots of cribs, and the ones I wanted started at a minimum of about $500," says Tan.
Since your baby likely won't need the crib for more than the first couple of years, it can be worth looking into buying one used. As long as it doesn't have any recalls, can be disinfected properly, and doesn't have any missing or broken parts, you can likely find a crib that you love for a lot less through local Facebook groups, or through friends and family.
Tiny onesies and booties are so cute, but babies grow fast. Try to buy some of their clothes secondhand (or source hand-me-downs from friends or family) to save money. "Babies grow out of clothes so quickly that you can often find items that have never been worn or still have the tags on them," Danielle Harrison, CFP(r), founder of Harrison Financial Planning in Missouri, tells Parents.
Scherer says his family was able to find "high-quality and lightly worn" items for their kids at their local consignment store—and were able to sell baby items they had as well. "When factoring in both the discounts on purchased items and store credits earned on our items placed for sale, our overall savings have been significant," says Scherer.
Marissa Zen, frugal living parent blogger at Squirrels of a Feather, says parents can find some great deals on baby items in thrift stores, or online though sites and apps such as Mercari, OfferUp, and eBay. "Buying baby clothes used is a great way to save money. Just make sure to wash them first before you put them on your baby to remove any trace of dust or chemicals," advises Zen.
Shoes for those teeny-tiny feet are equally adorable, but once again, they grow fast. "Babies usually grow out of their shoes in a matter of months, so why invest in new shoes when you can get barely used ones at a fraction of the price?" says Elizabeth Hicks, mom and co-founder of Parenting Nerd. Hicks recommends ThredUP for high-quality used clothing and shoes that can be 30 to 80 percent off the retail price.
"Particularly with infants and babies, their shoes are more for show than anything else since they aren't walking until around the age of one," says Harrison. So you can still buy the tiny shoes—and get more bang for your buck.
Toys are another baby item that you can buy used. "No matter if they are wood or plastic, baby toys are easy to wipe down with anti-bacterial wipes to remove any pesky germs, so don't think twice about buying used baby toys," says Zen. She suggests joining a local Buy Nothing group on Facebook—a project where people post things they would like to lend or give away for free. "This is the #1 money-saving tip for frugal moms everywhere," says Zen. If you're pregnant, Zen suggests signing up well in advance of your due date, and checking often as good deals go fast. Facebook Marketplace is also a great place to check for baby items.
Harrison suggests visiting your local library, as many offer bags of age-appropriate toys, crafts, and books that you can borrow. "Kids grow tired of the same toys, so being able to get a new set every couple of months is wonderful! It can also help you maintain a more minimalistic home," says Harrison.
There are some really fancy and expensive strollers out there—and you could find a safe, functional stroller for a fraction of the cost by buying it used. "Purchasing used strollers can help you save on an item that you
will probably only use for a year," says Annette Harris, founder of Harris Financial Coaching.
Hillary Swetz, owner of frugal living site Homegrown Hillary, found a double baby jogger stroller on a Buy Nothing Facebook group that retails for $200. "[Strollers] can get very pricey, and are usually made well enough to last though multiple children and even families."
Bottom Line: While you don't have to buy all of your baby's items used, it is a great option to consider to help you save and make the most of your money, especially considering the short time your baby will likely use these items. Just know that there are options available to you, and you can score essential baby buys at a much lower price. Your wallet will thank you.