There is a lot to buy when you’re preparing for your first baby. Car seat, stroller, baby carrier, crib, high chair, clothes, … all of which adds up to a substantial budget. If you live far from your family, you will probably miss out on opportunities to be handed down baby gear from brothers and sisters, and receiving gifts to help furnish the nursery.
If budget is an issue, your best bet is to purchase second hand items. For some safety items such as a car seat or a crib, you’ll want to check up to date regulations and recall lists before you purchase. Or even purchase new. But you’ll find used baby clothes that look like new for a third of the price if you know where to look.
The same goes for pregnancy clothes. You’ll probably want to buy some of them yourself to be sure that they are in this year’s style and that they fit you properly. But if you can complete your pregnancy wardrobe with other items handed down to you or obtained for a bargain, even better!
You will be surprised at how generous distant acquaintances will be to you. That’s because we want to get rid of pregnancy clothes and baby gear. Yes, they look awesomely cute now. And it probably seems weird that someone would want to part with them. But do you have any idea of how little space is left in your living room after you’ve filled it with an activity mat, a Bumbo seat, a high chair, a swing, a baby chair, a birth ball, a bassinet, ..?
Come on, don’t be shy and put it out there that you’re pregnant. And that you’re willing to help other parents clear up some space in their cramped appartment. A status update on Facebook will do.
If you haven’t heard of Craigslist yet, then you haven’t been on the West Coast very long, have you? I’ve personnally bought and sold baby items on this online classified service. It’s great for larger items such as a stroller (be sure to know what you’re doing when you buy a second hand stroller). But for smaller items such as books, toys or clothes I would rather recommend kids swap meets.
Kids swap meet
I regularly check the list of kids swap meets in my neighborhood on the kidsvancouver.com website. Being French, I was confused the first time a friend of mine mentioned it to me: “What?! You guys meet and swap kids? Why would I want to do that for?“.
Turns out there is no illegal kids swap involved. It’s a totally legit operation. It typically takes place in a gym or other large venue. Moms with used items to sell rent tables. Moms looking for a bargain come and see if they find good second hand items to buy. And you can do both!
I swear. After they’ve been worn a couple of times, you can’t tell the difference between a T-shirt bought new and a T-shirt bought in a kids swap meet.
Now the problem with kids swap meets is that you need to be somewhat organized or you’ll miss those taking place in your neighborhood. The pregnant lady brain being what it is, a consignment or a thrift store may be a better option for you.
Consignment / thrift stores
I haven’t tried them personally, but Elodie tells me she’s found hidden treasures in thrift stores, and gently used cloth diapers in the Little Earth consignment store on Hastings.
I wasn’t familiar with the difference between consignment and thrift stores, so I looked it up with my favorite search engine and found a great explanation here. They explain it better than I would so follow the link if you want to know what the difference is.
Again, the kidsvancouver.com website is a great resource to find consignment stores in the Greater Vancouver area.
Even for items that you want to buy new, you can get discounts or have them paid for by your family.
Friends of mine have setup a baby registry so that their family could contribute from France (thank you Internet and credit cards!).
I’ve also setup a baby registry but that was just to get the 10% discount from the store, and I am the one who’s bought my gifts. That was a bit sad. But hey, I got 10% and coupons!
Using those channels, I’ve ended up buying relatively few full price items for Big Kiddo. And I’ve found the experience to be quite satisfying. But I have to say, coming out of a baby store empty handed is just mission impossible for me! Are you stronger that me? How do you do it?