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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Thrifty Momma ~ Gearing Up for Baby Without Breaking the Bank

I am a lover of thrift stores, garage sales, hand-me-downs, repurposing, recycling and paying it forward.  Through thrifty shopping and the generosity of family and friends, becoming a mom has not been nearly as expensive as it could have been!

Lily's wardrobe is extensive, but it didn't cost a fortune!  I have purchased very few new items (and really, the only new items I have purchased were out of adoration of their cuteness, not out of necessity) and received some new clothing as gifts.  But the bulk of Lily's wardrobe is recycled.  While I was pregnant, I scoured thrift stores and garage sales for baby items in good condition.  Most things cost about a buck or less, and looked like they had never been worn (which most mommas will know is a real possibility!).  I received hand-me-downs from my friend Tanya, my cousin Melissa, my friend Majica, and my friend Jenny.  Bags and bags of clothes, hats and blankets.  I kept what I wanted, all organized by size in labeled cloth bins from Ikea (I have clothes up to 24 months!), and the rest is being handed down to other girlfriends.  What they don't want will be garage saled or donated to thrift.  So the cycle continues...

Used Baby Gear
I am unbelievably thankful for the generous hand-me-downs from my friend Anne, my friend Jenny and my niece Raina.  I received a carrier/car seat base(s)/stroller combo less than a year old, 2 full size swings, one travel swing, a vibrating bouncer, a jumper, 2 ring slings, a backpacking carrier from REI, 2 Bumbos, and several toys.  That easily saved me over $1000.  My mom scored garage sale finds of a jogging stroller (granted, it's ugly, but functional!) for $20 and a pack and play for her house.  I repurposed an old rolling kitchen cart that we had stored in the garage into an organizer for diapers, wipes, baby hygiene supplies, etc.  Oh, and my mom and I bought numerous books at garage sales and thrift stores.  Lily has a huge library already!

As long as these items aren't worn out when Lily is done with them (one of the swings and the stroller are really on their last legs), they'll get a new life with another baby.

Things I Got New (luckily, they were gifted!)
My mom and my Aunt Rose spoiled Lily with new furniture.  A crib, armoire and dresser with hutch.  The crib converts into a toddler bed, then into a double bed.  These items will be her furniture until she moves out, and she can take them with her even then.  So the value of these items was worth it in the grand scheme of Lily's life.  Jim's mom purchased a mattress for the crib.  My dad purchased a full sized pack and play and a mini pack and play bassinet, and my Uncle Tommy purchased a high chair. 

I also received lots of other baby paraphernalia at my baby showers, thanks to my lovely, lovely ladyfriends.  But a lot of these things (boppy, blankets, books, toys, etc.) I would have been just as happy to receive as hand-me downs!

I know that I am a very lucky person to have such generous friend and family support.  However, all of these items could have been purchased used.  If it hadn't been for family, I would have continued to scour thrift stores and garage sales for used items within my budget.

Things You MUST Purchase New
I had to return to work when Lily was 3 months old, so my dad generously purchased a breast pump for me - this is an item I would not have purchased used, as it is not recommended by doctors.  I could consider a used pump from a friend who I knew had taken good care of the pump, and I'd purchase replacement attachments, but I couldn't take a used pump from someone I didn't know. 

Pacifiers and nipples must be purchased new.  Period.  The materials used in these items degrades over time and can tear (especially if boiled several times to be sanitized), posing a choking hazard.

I'm sure there is something baby product related that I didn't cover here, but the end point is that there are so many ways to be thrifty when preparing for a baby.  Whether you get items that are gifted, handed down, repurposed or recycled, you can be a thrifty momma!  Don't be shy to ask for help or hand-me-downs.  You'd be surprised how generous people are when it comes to little bundles of joy!


P.S. Be sure to check for recalls before purchasing used baby equipment! is the official US recall website, which also has a mobile app for recall information.  Fancy!



  1. I buy most "work-horse" clothes and toys used from consignment shops. There are tons of good used stuff, specially seeing how little my son uses his new stuff. I really don't see the point in buying everything new anymore.

  2. I also received tons of hand-me-downs from generous friends & family. I don't know what I would have done without them. We are cloth-diapering our second baby from the get-go, and I wish someone had cloth diapers to hand down too!

  3. GREAT tips! We'd rather put the extra cash into their college funds!

  4. Great list. There a WONDERFUL thrift store near us and the prices are great. I can find Gymboree clothes there for $1-$2 that someone has worn once or twice. Otherwise my daughter would NEVER be in that brand. I don't see any reason why babies need brand new clothes since they grow so quickly.


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