Many mothers face the same dilemma about their wallets. Not that it doesn't match their diaper bag, but it simply does not hold enough cash to buy everything baby needs. While some women are born bargain-hunters, others scoff at the idea of buying -"dun dun duuuuuun"- used items.
The thought of sifting through bins filled with previously-owned products does not appeal to all, but the benefits of saving a buck can't be denied. Those with the up-turned noses are not completely off base when it comes to certain items, however. Some baby gear is safest when bought new.
The product still in the packaging is a must for certain items, but you shouldn't break the bank on others, especially if you are already struggling to finish your shopping list. So if you have champagne taste but only beer money, here is a breakdown of when to spend and when to go garage sale hunting.
- Clothes- Be realistic. Your child is going to outgrow those Baby Gap jeans faster than you can snap button them. Not to mention the food stains, vomit and urine guaranteed to saturate the fabric at some point. Why pay full price when your baby's clothes are barely more than a dirt-to-skin shield? Lexington has many consignment stores exploding with children's clothing, so just wash everything before you wear and your little one can stay inexpensively stylish.
- Toys- The thought of your child putting a toy handled by other children in his mouth can be disturbing, but face it- your kid is probably going to willingly ingest dirt the minute you look away on the playground. A little Clorox and warm water, and baby toys are good as new. Just make sure if you are buying an electronic toy that the instructions are included and you can test it before you buy. Tell yourself these toys aren't used, they are just pre-loved.
- Crib accessories- Wal-mart had my crib set brand new for $50. And the yard sale on my block had the exact same thing for $10. Luckily, I heard the voice of the late infomercial guru Billy Mays screaming in my head, and a few rinses with OxiClean later I had a darn cute nursery. Sheets, bumper pads and curtains can all be cleaned easily, and you often find matching sets paired together at consignment stores. Trust me, your baby is not going to know or care that someone else enjoyed that Mickey Mouse wall hanging before they did.
- Highchairs, swings, bouncy chairs- Any item expected to hold your child's weight should be chosen with extreme caution. You know that moment when your partner is assembling the baby swing and yelling “Part A doesn't fit with Part C and I'm missing the doo-dad that screws into the thing-a-majig!” When you buy used, you can get this scenario without the option of returning the swing. And whatever you do, don't try to substitute tools or assembly pieces. You are not MacGyver.
- Cribs- Do you really want to be slathering your child's head in Crisco when they get it stuck between crib slats that were buil too far apart? I didn't think so. Cribs have gone through several much-needed updates over time, so before you buy check out www.cpsc.gov to look for product recalls and avoid disaster by springing for a new crib. Most newer models convert to a toddler bed and even a full bed, so it's a worthy investment.
- Car seats- Arguably the single most important safety item for your baby, so don't risk getting a faulty one secondhand. While mothers everywhere should share a collective conscience to keep all babies safe, some may sell a car seat that went through a car accident or was recalled. Let your baby roll around town securely in the backseat with a new carrier.