Do You Have “Issues” Buying Used Clothing and Gear for Baby?

When I wrote about buying secondhand baby clothes for my daughter, I was bracing myself for some outraged reactions.  I can’t believe you don’t buy your daughter new clothes!  Doesn’t she deserve new things?  Won’t she feel ashamed and deprived as she grows older, knowing she was forced to wear cast-offs?  To my surprise, all of our commenters said they love buying secondhand duds, too.

Not everyone feels this way.  When I was pregnant, I remember reading an article somewhere about saving money on baby gear.  The couple featured went to great lengths to buy almost everything used or scrounge around for hand-me-downs.  Then the mother-to-be said, “The one thing we did not buy used was clothing.  We made it a priority for the baby to have all new clothes.”  I found this sentiment interesting.  Used clothing costs so much less than new, and no one would ever suspect it was secondhand unless you were dressing the kid in polyester jumpsuits.  (I do run across those vintage baby clothes from the 1970s from time to time . . . and I think they’re cute!)

I also read of a mother who was expecting a second daughter.  She said she wanted the new baby to feel like she was just important as the first one.  The way to do that, she reasoned, was to buy all new clothes for her.  Now, the logic on this is . . . well, illogical.  First of all, babies do not usually have that level of awareness about their attire.  Also, sharing clothing among siblings does not have to be shameful.  I know my little sister looked forward to wearing things once I had outgrown them, and as teenagers we shared clothes all the time.  That’s one of the great advantages of having a sibling!

So now I want to know: do you have “issues” surrounding used gear or clothing?  Used clothing seems to work for me.  For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Please join us to tomorrow for another installment of Thrifty Green Thursday!


  1. After seeing how quickly my first baby outgrew her new clothes (some never even worn), I resolved to get as much secondhand clothes as possible for baby #2. Most of it was given to me…I find that secondhand clothes at consignment shops can be expensive, especially when you consider that you can find better deals on new clothes at the clearance racks. Unfortunately, I think it is very difficult for second-hand kids’ clothes shops to stay in business b/c of the ‘ick’ factor. I personally had no problem with this until I saw a little halloween costume with bugs crawling on it–this in a store where the owner was obsessed about keeping her stock as clean as possible…i wish it wasn’t a deterrent, but it kinda was.

    I still prefer swapping clothes tho, it saves a lot of money. I’ve been doing the same with toys as well. My conscience feels much better knowing that a toy can get a second or third life instead of getting ‘thrown away’ before it’s even worn out.

  2. I have a lot of friends who have those “issues”….I absolutely do not! I mean, for a “homecoming” (from the hospital) or whatnot, of course, I want something special and new… But, for clothes that he’s going to get paint, PB&J and ketchup all over…used it just fine! 🙂

    As far as baby gear…wow…except for the crib and changing table, both my boys’ rooms/toys are “2nd hand” …as long as they aren’t recalled and pass safety standards, we have no “issue” 🙂

    The only thing I have an “issue’ buying used is cloth diapers (I don’t want used underwear! lol) but, I’m slowly getting over that, lol 😉

  3. I have no “issues” with used clothing and in fact have a really hard time buying anything new. As our daughter gets older we will buy her new everyday shoes – it’s just a thing my hubby has with shoes 🙂

  4. We have recently scored so many adorable outfits from our local thrift shop. Roscoe has gotten several compliments on his sporty new sweaters and name brand corduroy slacks. It makes me smile to know that we purchased all of them for less than two dollars!

  5. I’m all in favor of second-hand, gently used and hand-me-downs! I agree with Terra – there are times I want to choose something myself, but it’s amazing how often I can find those things at the consignment shop. (There’s an upscale one by my mom’s house – it’s as well stocked as many a baby boutique!)

    What I have found is that it’s SO much harder to do this as my son gets older. At 4, he’s tall and slim and impossible to fit for pants. Plus he has opinions about his favorite tees. IMHO, this just reinforces how nice it is to take advantage of second-hand items when they’re little.

  6. Each of my three children has worn second hand clothes. They also each receive many new things as gifts from people. Frequently, they had so much clothing as babies they couldn’t wear it all- and I was able to pass on many new, unworn things to someone else.

    I recall once visiting a baby boutique in the Hamptons and looking at a little onesie and looking at the price tag of $150.00 and wondering if Hampton babies didn’t pee, poop, or spit up all over their clothes. Because that’s just silly.

  7. Oh My! I am a thrift store and consignment store JUNKIE! With six kids I have to be! You can really get some terrific stuff there at unbelievable prices. GREAT POST!

  8. I’m gearing up for my first baby, and I LOVE second-hand clothes. He honestly won’t know or care about what he’s wearing, so long as it’s comfortable for him. Why pay more money, when I can get him cute things for less than $1?

    I did buy a pack of new socks and a pack of newborn undershirts, simply because I was having a hard time finding them used and I just wanted to cross them off the list.

    Everything else came from second-hand stores or were gifts.

    I’m picky about what I buy though — they have to be in perfect condition with no stains. I know the clothes will get stained eventually, but I’d rather it be MY baby’s goo than someone else’s 🙂

  9. Nope. Matter of fact, I buy stuff from Goodwill for my 14 yr old son & 11 yr old daughter & just don’t tell them that’s where it came from. My daughter prefers clothes handed down from a particular friend rather than something I’ve bought her new. I think it’s because she trusts this friend’s style choices.

  10. So many great comments!

    Esme, I think the “ick factor” is a big reason many people fear used clothes for their kids. I think bugs crawling over something might deter me as well! Secondhand children’s shops do very well here in Portland, though. I don’t think I’ve seen one go out of business.

    Terra Jones, I bought new prefolds and used diaper covers. Strangely, I do not mind used diapers, though I do NOT buy used underwear. Hm.

    Frugal Housewife, I get used shoes for my daughter because I usually find pairs that haven’t been worn at all. This will probably be harder as she gets bigger.

    Joy, those sound like great bargains!

    Fern, YES. It has been a bit harder to find good clothes at consignment shops now that Audrey is a bit older. I think that everyone has SO many infant clothes, so consignment stores are bursting with them. Audrey doesn’t outgrow clothing very quickly because she is so skinny. It’s hard to find pants that fit her because she fits in the 6-12 month size around the waist, but the 2 year size in length. Luckily my mom scored a pair of baby Gap skinny jeans at a consignment shop!

    Gettysburg Mom, wow. A $150.00 onesie? I’d frame it and put it on the wall!

    Tammy W, I’d imagine thrift stores are a must with six kids. Imagine putting them all in $150.00 onesies!

    Kacie, I like consignment stores better than thrift stores for that reason: I don’t like stains on my clothes, either. Of course, most of her stuff is stained now, so I don’t know why I care. . . .

    Veggiemomof2, I used to love getting hand-me-downs from these stylish older girls when I was young! That’s a great way to get used clothes.

  11. MrsNehemiah says

    if I had it to do all over again, the only thing I’d buy new would be the carseat!
    Mrs N

  12. I LOVE getting secondhand clothes and gear for all 3 of my children. It just has to be clean and safe. If it is a baby gear item, I insist on having the instruction manual to make sure I am using the item properly and safely. I find that most manuals are available online from the manufacturer.

    My 8 year old daughter’s favorite place to shop is the local childrens’ consignment shop, and she thoroughly enjoys getting hand-me-downs from her older cousins because she values their taste in clothing. My baby doesn’t know or care where his things come from.

    I figure if I am saving $ on clothes, toys, and gear, I have more $ available to do fun activities together and save for college. That is more important to me than spending on brand new things.

  13. Since I don’t own anything used, the answer is probably yes, I have issues. I won’t have any issues when it comes to a second baby though except we can’t seem to keep the stains off of the clothing I wouldn’t mind passing down. We bought all neutral gear so that will be easy – I hope. I guess my other issue that keeps me out of second-hand stores is that I don’t like to rummage for good, quality finds. It makes my mom and sister question my genetics, but I am who I am.

  14. I love to rummage–I enjoy the “hunting” part of bargain hunting because it feels like so much more of a “find” than just walking into a regular store and getting something off the rack.

    Since I frequently buy used clothes for myself, I certainly had no issue with consignment stores or hand-me-downs for my now 2-year-old, and have found some fantastic (un-stained) deals at Salvation Army. My favorite hand-me-downs came from a particular friend who confided that her favorite pieces were hand-me-downs to her from a friend who did buy expensive, European-made baby clothes (though I don’t think any of the onesies cost $150).

    Because I buy so many pieces of my son’s clothing for 50 cents to $4, I feel less bad about the occasional splurge of a $20 or $30 new item that’s just too cute to pass up.

  15. Bravo!! You have my respect for posting this. I cannot believe how people can get so caught up in what their kids wear, to the extent that they ‘must have new’ as well as name brand and feel that those ‘poor kids that have to wear second hand clothes’, are somehow mistreated. Kids grow so fast. Second hand clothes now days are pretty nice. When my kids were growing up, I didnt have a choice but to buy second hand clothes. I thank God that I had that available or my kids would have really been in trouble. I don’t think my toddlers EVER wore name brand. I had nice clothes for my kids but their play clothes were always second hand. Great post!~ Great blog. God Bless!

  16. Not at all. In today’s economy, I can’t imagine not taking advantage of savings like these. My 11 year old son scored a beautiful name brand hoodie at Goodwill for $3 and he actually brags about the “steal of a deal” to his friends at school. They have similar sweatshirts that cost them more than $30 and they stand in awe. His sense of independent confidence, frugality, and the value of being a good steward tickle me. I’m hoping his younger brothers follow in his footsteps!

  17. Absolutely not. All of our own clothes come from thrift stores – and we’re not growing… our clothes fit until they wear out. Our son will always have used clothes until he’s buying his own. And I hope by then that the lessons we will have taught him about frugality will mean that he’ll continue to buy second hand clothes. It’s the frugal and environmentally sound option.

  18. I love secondhand clothes for my kids. My inlaws had an issue with the idea when I was pregnant with my first, but within the first few months they realized how expensive new clothes were, and my mother-in-law started asking me where my favorite shops were.

    Expecting another baby now. She’ll be starting out with clothes handed down from one of her cousins. The clothes my daughter had were first worn by an older cousin, then my daughter, then that cousin’s younger sister, then my other sister’s daughter. I think they’re finally showing signs of wear, so this batch of clothes is coming from my husband’s sister.

    No matter how cute the baby clothes are, I love not having to buy a ton of clothes!

  19. My husband is the one that has the second hand issues. He is slightly OCD so I let him buy his own clothes and I don’t feel the need to tell him where that cute oufit came from. He knows I love thrift stores and I have been teaching our children the benefits of going secondhand verses new. Besides, kids like more and they can definitely get more for their money when we thrift.

  20. Being a child from a big family who grew up wearing mostly hand-me-downs, I don’t have any clue why people would have a problem with used clothes. That’s just weird. If they’re worried about germs, wash it.

    The only item I wouldn’t buy second-hand is a car seat. I would take a used one from a friend if I knew the age and history. I would be very careful about buying a used crib and be sure to check recalls, etc. But everything else, buy used!

    A great little second-hand secret in Portland is Deseret Industries on 82nd Ave. It is run by the Mormon church and they have tons of cheap, barely used baby stuff.

  21. I have no issues with (nice) used clothing! Almost every weekend in the summer, I can be found at garage sales. This year, I found our 5 year old’s wardrobe for Kindergarten at a single sale – all clothing a dollar apiece for brands like Gymboree, Children’s Place, Old Navy, etc. An entire coat/snowpants set for $7. Our son’s winter coat for $3.

    I love to frequent Once Upon A Child, our local secondhand store. Recently, I’ve found snow boots for each of our children, a winter footed coat for our baby due in 7 weeks (tags on! From Babies R Us), etc. Not to mention maternity clothes from their partner store next door – I stopped in the day they had a clearance rack outside, and got 10 long-sleeved shirts for a dollar apiece!! Plus, both stores offer a 10% military discount.

  22. I can honestly say that I’ve only purchased 2 articles of clothing for our baby due in February. We have 6 full totes of second hand clothes from my niece and don’t plan to buy any (new or used) until we see that the sizes may not fit right. I’m very lucky to have such a resource!

  23. mother-to-be says

    I think this has something to do with culture and where you are from. I am not from United States and when my American girl friends mentioned a clothing swap I didn’t get the concept. I still have a hard time accepting old cloths from friends yet alone buying it myself or for my babies. So, I think it is just a cultural thing.

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