Used Clothing: How Safe is It?

In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several posts to discussing their findings.  (This is the last in my series of “used gear safety” posts.  Whew!  Check out my posts on secondhand baby bath tubs, car seats, cribs, high chairs, strollers, and toys.)

Here are ShopSmart’s views on hand-me-down baby garments:

Safe: As long as buttons and snaps are on tight and none of the thread is unraveling from the fabric, the used clothing is fine.
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Baby Blend Tees Organic T-Shirt Giveaway

Jennifer Leaphart founded Baby Blend Tees after creating a few adorable shirts for her own children and being stopped by strangers who wanted some themselves.  Her designs are simple, clever, kid-friendly and printed on sweat-shop free, 100% organic cotton. 

Baby Blends Tees has gathered national attention after being featured in Pregnancy and Newborn magazine, E-The Environmental Magazine, The Chicago Sun Times and The Chicago Tribune.  Fabulous press for a small company started by a multitasking mother!

It’s nice to know that Leaphart has made business decisions that include the planet in her long range planning.  Beyond the fact that the company uses organic cotton, Baby Blend Tees also belongs to 1% for the Planet, a group of businesses that donate 1% of their annual sales to environmental programs. 

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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!)
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Are Secondhand Baby Clothes Greener than Organic Ones?

Here’s a green idea that works for me: I buy all of my child’s clothes at secondhand stores.  It seems like lately I keep hearing about expensive organic cotton onesies and bamboo socks.  While it’s great to support companies who use sustainable products, why not just buy clothes at a consignment shop?  I’ve found so many cute things—many of them from mainstream manufacturers like Old Navy, the Gap, and Gymboree–for much less than retail.  In fact, I have never paid more than eight dollars for an item of clothing.  (My limit used to be six dollars, but then I splurged on an adorable eight-dollar bunny sweater!)

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