Consumer IQ

Don’t Pay Retail For Your New Baby

Babies cost thousands of dollars, and I’m not talking about the hospital bill. A crib, onesies, diapers, diaper wipes, diaper wipe warmers. There are all sorts of products that parents find necessary to care for a being with three functions: eat, poop, and sleep. Think of your new baby as an incredibly expensive car that doesn’t come with electric locks.

So what’s a bargain babe to do?

Get it for free! With a bit of research, you can find almost everything you need for your baby’s first six months for free or extremely cheap. Here are my go-to resources that have already helped me find a free bassinet, crib, Diaper Genie (if you don’t know what this is, you’re lucky), and bouncy seat.

1. Craigslist

The majority of baby gear lasts far longer than your infant will need it. In fact, your kid will outgrow clothes so fast you’ll consider cutting back on his meals. Expect to find cribs, changing tables, gliders, nursery decor, clothes, toys, strollers, bouncy seats, and more for 10-40 percent of the original price. Just make sure to wipe everything down thoroughly with disinfectant before you give it to your precious slobber monster.

2. Local consignment store

Find hot bargains and meet other new or soon-to-be moms at consignment outlets, which are typically run by local moms. Make friends with the owner and you may get an extra discount or benefit from a heads up about coveted new items. Being friendly helped me score a free crib.

3. Friends and family

Don’t be surprised when moms in your community offer bags of clothes, gear, and toys. To these ladies, you represent a grand opportunity to empty their basements.¬†Accept the donations with willing arms, along with any offers to babysit. If it’s your first baby, you may be picky about how you dress your little darling, but remember that if they attend daycare, they’ll need plenty of extra outfits and you won’t want to send their best threads onto the front lines. Things get lost and stained beyond redemption. You can always donate what you won’t use.

4. thredUP

Exchange kids clothes through the mail for $15.95 per box you receive (that includes shipping). Sending stuff out is free. Each box, a USPS Medium Priority Flat Rate container, holds an average of 15 items, so you’re paying roughly $1 per item. You can browse the contents of a box before you buy, get the name and location of the seller, and see their track record.

5. BookMooch

Offer your unwanted books to this online trading community and you’ll earn credits to request children’s books from other members. You only pay what it costs to mail your books to others. Receiving books is free.

6. Zwaggle

Parents trade gently-used kids and baby clothes, gear, movies, and much more on this free site. Earn “Zoints” by sending stuff to others that you can then redeem. Get 25 points just for joining. I saw a swaddle wrap, sling, and playpen, booster seat, play toy, and travel swing for 25 points or less. Generally, the recipient pays shipping unless an in-town meet up can be arranged. So receiving bulky items in the mail will add up.

Balking at used stuff? Once you see how cheap and high quality the hand me downs are, you’ll choke at Babies R Us prices. Here’s another way to approach it. You wouldn’t think twice about accepting baby clothes that your sister saved for you, so why be shy about gently-used items from the greater community? Vintage is SO in!

Julia Scott blogs about saving money on everyday expenses like groceries, gasoline, and gifts at BargainBabe.com.