Outfitting our Baby with Hand-Me-Down, Borrowed, and Used Stuff

It’s quite challenging to maintain our frugal nature with DPR on the scene. During my pregnancy, we collected items slowly and with an eye to their cost by shopping consignment stores and sales and judiciously accepting hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. But when DPR arrived five weeks early, we went on an Amazon spending binge to finish obtaining what we thought was the bare minimum of stuff that she would need immediately upon coming home. Our bank accounts took a big hit.



Kyle squeezed into DPR’s hand-me-down activity mat with her

We’ve been getting back on track in raising a frugal baby almost entirely due to our friends, family, and acquaintances helping us out. Babies move so quickly from stage to stage that many items don’t get a lot of use before the baby outgrows them (literally or developmentally). We are incredibly fortunate that several families we know have lent or given us baby items they were no longer using.


In addition to the new baby stuff we were given as gifts, we received many used items as hand-me-downs: a swing, two activity mats, burp cloths, crib sheets, clothing, swaddles, and receiving blankets. We also borrowed an arm’s reach co-sleeper from a friend while we were ordering our crib.


smile break while sorting one of the bags of clothes

smile break while sorting one of the bags of clothes

The big kahuna, however, came by happenstance. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I attended a women’s event at our church and sat at a table with several people I had not met before, including the wife of one of the pastors. She almost immediately offered to give us a swing her child was no longer using, which I accepted. (She said that as space is at such a premium in Seattle, we would find lots of parents eager to get rid of things they were no longer using!) Then, when we announced DPR’s birth and revealed that she was a girl, the pastor’s wife offered us her entire collection of baby girl clothes.


Every time the pastor’s baby outgrew a clothing size, the too-small clothes were passed to one of their friends within the church whose baby was slightly younger. The pastor’s wife inserted us next in line as DPR is two months younger than the second baby. She has another family lined up to receive the clothes after we’re done with them.


So far we’ve received about nine large bags of baby clothes on three occasions! It’s almost too much! DPR didn’t wear nearly all of the newborn clothes we were lent before she grew out of them, so we’re trying to rotate her through more of her 0-3 month and 3 month clothes before she outgrows them, too. She has a much larger wardrobe than either Kyle or I do. Her dresser is full with only the clothes she’s currently wearing – the other bags reside in a closet, awaiting their turn. It’s so nice to not feel pressure to do laundry just to keep her clothed. I’ve also received numerous compliments on her cute outfits.


I can’t even calculate how much money we would have spent on these items if we had to buy them all, even used. It’s also opening my eyes to how so many of our possessions are idle most of the time. How much could we help other people out if we were willing to lend them?


The parent communities we’ve entered in the last few months have been by far the most generous I’ve ever encountered, and they have truly inspired me to become more generous as well. In fact, as soon as DPR outgrew her newborn-sized clothing (the ones we actually owned, purchased while she was in the NICU), I lent the whole collection to a friend. Through this experience, I’m coming to understand a new meaning of “it takes a village.”


Did your community give or lend you used baby items when you had your first child? Which of your possessions have you lent?


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4 Responses to "Outfitting our Baby with Hand-Me-Down, Borrowed, and Used Stuff"

  1. My sister had a baby a year before we did. We were able to borrow so many items that our friends had given her.

    On top of that we scoured Craigslist for free baby items. We were able to stock pile a ton of clothes and toys. We were incredibly fortunate also to find some free strollers out by the trash that were basically brand new.

    Why people throw out perfectly good stuff is beyond me.

    1. Emily says:

      That’s awesome! My husband joined a local “Buy Nothing” Facebook group and sees great stuff on offer there all the time, but so far we haven’t tried to get anything from it. It’s way better to donate good used stuff to a group like that than put it in the trash – though they do make for some exciting dumpster diving finds!

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