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How to Acquire Baby Clothes for Less

by Emily Guy Birken

One of the joys of impending parenthood is getting to stroll through the baby clothing aisle of your local department store, exclaiming over and over how cute and tiny each outfit is. Unfortunately, that joy is short-lived once you reach for the price tag.

BabyWhile baby clothes are certainly cheaper than their adult counterparts, they get a great deal less wear, as well. In the first year alone, your bouncing baby is likely to go through as many as four or five different sizes of clothing. And with multiple outfit changes on a daily basis to deal with spit-up, diaper blowouts, and the like, no one can afford to pay retail for baby clothes.

Luckily, it’s possible to buy and acquire baby clothes for next to nothing – if you’re willing to put down the adorable socks at the department store and back away slowly. Yes, you can save money on baby gear, but it’ll take a little research. Here are some of the best methods for saving money on baby clothes in the first year and beyond:

1. Ask for hand-me-downs!

When I was pregnant with my son, several friends with older children were thrilled to give me overflowing boxes of their sons’ newborn and baby clothing. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude, until a few months later when my son had outgrown his newborn and 0-3 month old clothing, and I had drawers full of unwearable outfits and nowhere to put them to make room for new clothes.

Since baby’s daily necessities are so quickly outgrown, you’ll find that parents are happy to pass along baby clothes, and will often go out of their way to give you some of their hand-me-downs. And don’t be embarrassed to ask. Often friends don’t want to impose with hand-me-downs, because both parties to the transaction will likely feel like they got the better deal.

Also, if you have friends with kids a little older than yours, you may find that this is a consistent source of clothing as they grow up.

2. Shop at thrift stores and yard sales.

Your local Goodwill store is a treasure trove of baby and children’s clothing. For daily wear clothing, this is an excellent place to stock up on essentials: onesies, tees, pants, socks, etc. When you do shop at thrift stores, stick to good brand name clothing and always double check for stains. If you can hit the stores on discount days, you will often be able to get even better deals.

Yard sales are much like thrift stores in terms of being able to find good quality items for less, but with the added bonus that you can negotiate on price.

3. Visit consignment shops.

Places like Once Upon a Child are my go-to shopping destinations for special clothing — both seasonal items and dressy clothes. These stores do not accept anything other than good condition, gently used articles for consignment, which means the prices are higher than at thrift stores. However, I always know that I will be able to find the snow suit, swim shirt, or sweater vest that I’m looking for there, while it’s not a sure thing at Goodwill.

4. Browse online.

Craigslist and eBay are both great resources for baby clothes. In many cases, sellers will offer entire lots of clothes for sale, meaning you can get enough outfits for an entire season with one inexpensive transaction.

In addition, Freecycle is a good place to look for clothes that other parents are giving away. If you keep your eyes peeled on the site, you can often score lots of great clothes from others in your community.

5. Buy clothes out of season.

If you need to purchase new clothes, one way to make sure you buy for less is to shop the clearance rack as the season is ending. For instance, if you wait until it really does feel like summer (in late June), you’ll find stores have already discounted their summer clothing and started promoting their fall line. Also, if you buy big-ticket items — like snow pants— to fit your child for next year, you’ll be able to purchase them at the tail end of the season for very little money.

Considering how short a time that children wear their clothes, it’s definitely worth your while to use any and all of these tips to keep your clothing expenses as low as possible. Babies come with a variety of unexpected costs, but now you know what to do when it comes to finding baby clothes for less.

What are some other ways you can save money on baby clothes? Leave a comment!

Photo Credit: dhammza


Published or updated April 17, 2013.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David

My mom is always giving away our old baby clothes to couples with new babies. She doesn’t try doing the whole craigslist thing because she’s scared of strangers on the internet but if folks come to her in temple, she always pays it forward.

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2 Amy

I think at first everyone wants new stuff, then very quickly when you come to replace it you realise how expensive and regular this is! So we should definitely ask for hand-me- downs and look in thrift stores as remember, babies grow out of them so quick they are probably hardly worn.

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