Buying Gently Used Baby Clothing
By Mark Freeman
Remember that adorable outfit you bought for your newborn - the one that cost you nearly $40, and got worn three times before it no longer fit? For such tiny things, baby clothing is expensive - and as fast as babies grow, they seldom see much wear. For parents on a budget, those are potent arguments for cutting costs where you can when dressing baby.
Designer duds for baby DO make sense though - and by designer, I mean the elite in the baby design field: OshKosh and Baby B'Gosh, Carters, Sweat Pea and other top-of-the-line baby clothing manufacturers. They concentrate on the little details that cheap clothing manufacturers skimp on - little details that make a major difference in fit, appearance and comfort. You want to take advantage of nice, flat seams that don't irritate, and nylon snaps that don't scratch or pull through fabric. But you don't want to pay $30 for a sleeper!
The answer is shopping around for gently worn using baby clothes and checking with friends and relatives for outgrown hand-me-downs. Yard sales are a great source in the spring and summer months. You'll often find great clothes that are barely worn in sizes for the next couple of years. Check the newspaper for upcoming yard sales - baby clothes are often one of the advertised items.
Another great place to buy designer baby clothes at rock-bottom prices is a good consignment shop. Strike up a relationship with the owner, and she may even put aside items that she knows you'll love and give you a call to let you know what she's got. In addition, you can often sell the same baby clothes BACK, or trade them in on the next size up when baby outgrows them.
How about a place to get gently used baby clothing for the cost of the gas to go pick them up? Freecycle.org is a national movement of community bulletin boards who are committed to the concept of 'one man's junk'. Check http://www.freecycle.org to see if there's a chapter near you, and join up. Seldom a day goes by that someone doesn't offer a few bags of baby and children's clothing in various sizes. The quality varies, but the younger the baby, the more likely that the clothing is still in excellent shape.
Don't overlook church and community thrift shops as sources of good, well-cared for baby clothing. If there's a Junior League thrift shop in your city, you'll find beautiful clothing for baby at bargain basement prices.
When you do pick up used clothing for baby, launder it as soon as you get it home. Pretreat stains if there are any, and wash with a gentle laundry soap meant for baby. Add borax to the water for extra whitening power, and be sure to rinse at least twice if you use bleach. By the time you're done, you'll have one of the best-dressed babies in town - without breaking your piggy bank.
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