There are two universal truths about baby stuff: 1) There's a whole lot of it, and 2) The things you must have right now will be gathering dust four (or six or 11 months) from now. At which point you will have to have some other important stuff. To keep your home looking like an actual home instead of a baby superstore, you've got to purge—and do it regularly. And to keep your bank account in the black, you've got to be smart about what you buy.
Yes, there are certain things—like car seats and cribs—that you'll always want to purchase new for safety reasons. But when it comes to clothes, toys, and other gear, you can save a bundle by going the "gently-used" route. If you're lucky enough to have friends and family with kids younger and older than yours, you've already got a ready-made swap meet. For the rest of us, there are lots of great websites focused specifically on babies and kids that allow parents to unload the outgrown gear and stock up on newly required essentials at low—and sometimes no—cost. (You'll just want to be sure to check Recall.gov before listing or purchasing used baby products to make sure there aren't any safety issues.) A few sites worth bookmarking:
BabyLoot.com An easy-to-use classified site that you can list and search for free. To make it easier, you can also see what's available by category.
HandMeDowns.com Another classifieds option, but more traditional: You can buy, sell, and trade in 33 regions.
ThredUp.com You browse its lists of boxes filled with clothes and/or toys (everything is sorted by age, size, gender, season, etc). For five bucks plus $10.95 for shipping, you'll get your pick sent straight to your door. If you want to list your own box, you just post the description on the site and when someone picks it, you send it for free. No need to even go to the post-office—the site helps you schedule at-home pickups.
TradingCradles.com Probably one of the easiest sites to use, Trading Cradles requires no registration, you can shop by category, and it connects you with families in 55 cities and regions. And instead of having to pull together a whole box of stuff, you can list pieces individually (like that really cute frilly little dress she wore for three hours at your friend's wedding).
Zwaggle.com This site operates on a points (or zoints, as they call them) system. For everything you pass along, you get a certain number of zoints to spend in return. The network is national—the site has a shipping tool built right in—but you can also set up your own private Zwaggle group to trade with locally. Or, you can donate your zoints to a charity in the network and receive a tax write-off. Nice!
This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.
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