Overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, and the price of that stuff, that you need for a newborn? Opting for gently used clothes and gear can help keep costs down. On average, you can expect to save 50-60% on luxury brands and as much as 75-80% on standard name brands. But before you start shopping, know that it’s not safe to borrow or buy everything used. Here’s your cheat sheet to safely saving big on necessities (and nice-to-haves) by buying secondhand. Then, you’ll have some extra money to splurge on that adorable bedding set or too cute romper you’re lusting over.

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What’s a Steal?
Infants move through stages so quickly, that a lot of gear (and clothes) see only three to six months of use. If you’re only going to use an item a handful of times, why pay full price? Think special occasion outfits for family photos or holidays, winter buntings and coats that will be outgrown quickly, activity gear for non-mobile babies (swings, bouncers, exercise gyms, jumpers and walkers) and infant bathtubs. What’s great is that many of these previously owned items weren’t used much either so you can find stuff that’s in great condition. 

What’s Not a Smart Buy?
Steer clear of items that are used for long periods of time. Any gear that has missing parts, tears, cracks, rust, splinters or peeling paint can put your baby at risk. Some items pose risks not visible with the naked eye – like cracked frames, missing hardware, or mold and mildew; for that reason,  Consumer Reports advises to never purchase car seats, cribs or strollers.

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Photo: Neil Barnwell via Flickr

Where to Shop Secondhand
You can score deals on gently used goods at consignment stores, yard sales, online resale sites (like eBay and Swap) and online garage sales (like VarageSale and Facebook virtual yard sale groups). You’ll find the best deals locally when you purchase directly from the owner; if you choose this route, be sure to meet at your local police station for a safe transaction. Many communities have local parenting groups or twin/triplet groups that coordinate selling and swapping gear. Some town may even have tag sale groups on Facebook or through other channels that are wonderful resources for buying used.

Before You Buy
Do a quick search to make sure the item for sale was not recalled. It’s actually illegally to sell (even secondhand) recalled products, but don’t trust that your seller checked before selling. Be sure to ask the following: Does this come from a smoke free home? Pet free? Is the seller the original owner? When was the item purchased? You want to avoid older models of gear and toys that may contain lead paint or meet antiquated safety measures. If you aren’t able to ascertain the age of the item, look for a date code (call the manufacturer of origin for assistance). Make sure the item is free of defect (i.e. no broken pieces, stains or missing parts). If you are buying a motorized apparatus, be sure to turn it on and make sure it functions properly.

Do you buy secondhand? Tell us your shopping tips in a comment.

–Meghan Meyers

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