My husband grew to expect the same response from me: “Do we really need that?”
He would suggest an item and, nearly every time, this was my response.
While anticipating the arrival of my twins, I wanted to resist the endless marketing strategies of baby product companies. I didn’t want parenting to be synonymous with spending money on unnecessary items and cluttering our home.
Obviously, though, there are many products that make baby-raising safer and easier. If I thought an item could be useful, I used the following strategies to acquire the item before purchasing it.
1. PASSING IT ALONG: YOU NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU ASK
While pregnant, my biggest nesting focus was acquiring items that were gently used. I checked what resources my community had. (Did they, or anyone they knew, have any baby items that they were selling, lending or giving away?)
Through this email, a friend offered me a mountain of baby clothes. Another friend connected me with a friend of hers who was moving and getting rid of baby items that the family did not need and did not want to move. One family getting rid of items it no longer needs … and another family taking and using the items? That’s a win-win.
Sometimes a simple ask is all it takes for someone to realize that they have items to pass along to other families.
2. BORROWING: TRY IT OUT WITHOUT SPENDING MONEY
While you eagerly anticipate life as a parent, how do you know what you’re going to need or use? This is where borrowing items can come in handy.
Of the items we borrowed, we used some a lot. Some we tried once and never used again.
Did we use the newborn insert for the baby carrier? No. Did the babies like jumping in the doorframe jumper? No. It’s a good thing we borrowed those products and didn’t purchase them, only to later realize that we wouldn’t ever use them.
3. FACEBOOK GROUPS: ITEMS YOU NEED ARE JUST AROUND THE CORNER
We still actively acquire and pass along so many items through Facebook groups. You can’t find a more local way to gift and receive items.
BALL PIT BALLS. A big hit with our baby friends was a box filled with plastic balls. We thought our babies would enjoy having one, too, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy new plastic balls if I could find them elsewhere. I put a request on a Facebook group and someone responded. The person had done a spring cleaning and was ready to part with 400 multi-colored pit balls. Perfect!
PLAY YARD FENCES.
As our babies started getting more mobile, we needed more physical barriers around our house. I put a request on a Facebook group and found a 10-panel play yard for a fifth of the price of a new one.
4. CRAIGSLIST: BUYING USED
CHANGING TABLE. My brother and sister-in-law generously loaned us their changing table. Our time with the table was short-lived, though, because a new cousin was on the way (yay!) and they needed it back. We found the exact same changing table on Craigslist and it now sits in our nursery.
GLIDER. A friend recommended a rocking chair that we wouldn’t have considered at full price, but with two babies on the way, it seemed like a good idea to invest in a comfortable chair. I found one on Craigslist for less than the price of a new chair.
5. BE HONEST: ASK FOR SECONDHAND
People want to buy things for babies, which can be tricky when you are hoping to keep things simple and gently used.
We welcomed the generosity of our friends and family with gratitude, while letting them know that we were actively seeking gently used items.
My sister wanted to get us a jogging stroller. (It turns out she was keeping hers for when I had a baby, but then “baby” became “babies,” and her single stroller would do us no good with twins!) Knowing that we wouldn’t need the stroller for a few months, and knowing that I preferred gently used items, she waited until she found a double stroller that a friend was selling.
At a shower, some family friends gave us a huge bag of clothes, all from a children’s thrift store. We used them (but probably didn’t get to all of them!) and then passed them along as our babies quickly outgrew them.
There are many compelling reasons to avoid buying new items for your baby — saving money, investing money elsewhere, reducing your consumption and having a clutter-free home.
Whatever your reasons, you can explore these alternative ways of acquiring items to find out what works for you. And when you no longer need the stuff? Pass it along to the next family!