Thrifting Baby Gear: What’s Cool Used vs What to Buy New

Sun, Aug 11, 2013


As exciting as it is to welcome a new baby into your family, you may at the same time harbor a small amount of worry about how you are going to afford all of the necessities your baby will go through in the first few years. While retail stores sell a great variety of baby-related items, you may not have the budget to buy brand new furnishings, clothes, and other necessities for your infant.

You can still prepare for your baby without breaking your budget when you shop at secondhand and thrift stores. These locations can be great places to find clean and usable baby items that cost very little. As you shop at these stores, you should, however, be aware of what things are safe to buy used and what items you would do better to buy brand new.

Clothing and Blankets

Babies outgrow their clothing very quickly. Your newborn could wear 0- to 3-month clothing one week and then all of a sudden outgrow those sizes and need to be put in 3 to 6 month outfits the next week. It is very common for babies to grow out of their sleepers, onesies, and other baby outfits very rapidly in the first few months of their lives, sometimes outgrowing an outfit before they can even wear it. Rather than spend a small fortune on baby clothing, save money and find clean and wearable outfits at your local thrift store. Many parents donate their babies’ clothing to these stores, often in brand-new or next-to-new condition.

Baby Play Yards

Parents also donate play yards to these stores after their infants outgrow them. Having a play yard in your home can be a great addition for when you want your baby to have some play time alone or you need to focus on a few short tasks without holding your infant. Some parents like to have play yards double as baby beds, especially for the newborn stage. In that case, you may feel more comfortable with a new play yard. New models often include things like bassinet inserts or changing-table attachments, which may be missing from secondhand play yards.


Strollers are a lifesaver for many parents, especially those with more than one young child. However, high-quality ones can be quite pricey. Keep an eye out for the expensive brands or styles at thrift stores for a fraction of the retail price. These strollers may have been “well-loved” and show it to some degree. But, in most cases, they work just fine and you can get years of use without spending hundreds of dollars for a new one.

While thrift and secondhand stores have a great selection of baby items, you should be aware that some baby necessities are better purchased brand new. Rather than jeopardize your infant’s safety and health, your best bet would be to buy the following types of items new from a retail store.


Several noteworthy recalls of baby cribs have taken place in recent years. Older model cribs suffer defects that make them unsafe to use. Rather than risk having your baby fall out of an older crib or get his or her head caught in the slats, you should buy a brand new crib that meets current safety standards.

Car Seats

Car seats should also be purchased brand new. Donated seats at a thrift store may have been in car accidents, thus rendering them unsafe for you to use in your own vehicle. The plastics used in manufacturing these seats may also degrade over time. For this reason, most manufacturers of infant car seats put expiration dates on their products, specifying the maximum lifespan of that seat. You should buy a new car seat that meets the current safety expectations and has all of the updated safety mechanisms needed for your baby’s well-being.

While preparing for a baby can be an exciting time in your family’s life, your joy could be undermined by budget worries. You can stretch your baby budget more when you buy some necessities at a thrift or secondhand store. However, some items are better purchased brand new, particularly those items on which your baby’s health and safety depend.

Catherine Harris is a freelance writer and frugal mother of two. She is happy to forward this article to help other parents on a budget provide simple and safe furnishings like a baby play yard, car seats and clothing for their children.


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