Outfitting Your Child For Less

clothing-babyBaby clothes are ridiculously cute. And the clothing manufacturers know exactly how cute all those tiny tutus and sweater vests are, and sell them at prices often close to the cost of adult clothes. Plus, if you have a child who grows as fast as mine, you’re looking at an entire new wardrobe every couple months. Even less expensive clothes, like those $7 baby pants you found, all add up. I made a lot of clothing purchase mistakes with my first child, but also picked up a lot of tips along the way for how to dress Baby without breaking the bank.

Beg, Borrow and Plead: Every time I’ve started to run out of clothes for my son, I’ve taken to social media with a plea for donations in the size we need “With just one donated pair of size 18 month pants, you too can help my child from being naked”. I’ve gotten a great response from simple Facebook posts, someone has always offered up several bags of clothes they no longer need – my old co-worker I hadn’t seen in years, the cousin of friend I recently met at a party, you’d be surprised who is out there sitting on a pile of baby clothes wondering what to do with them.

If you know of someone who has clothes but is keeping them for the next child, ask if you can borrow them for a few months and then return them.

Learn to Love Your Local Baby Supply Resale Shop: These places can be goldmines. Not only do they buy your used clothes, but the children’s clothes they sell are often like new. I recently got my son an entire set of pajamas, two pairs of pants, three shirts and a tiny dump truck for $20. Bought new, they would have probably cost me over $40. Once you’ve seen the resale prices, it also helps with impulse buys because you’ll know you can get something similar for much cheaper at a resale store.

Start a Clothing Exchange Circle: Gather up several mommy friends and start a clothing exchange with the understanding that any new clothes anyone gets are added to the collection. Keep the various size collections fluidly moving through the group to whoever needs them next. For example – all the 12-month clothes would come to me for as long as my son needs them, and when he outgrows them, I pass them to whoever the next child is size-wise. You can write up an inventory or color-mark the tags if you want to keep track of who has contributed what (in case someone moves and/or wants their clothes back), or when the group is completely done with a certain size (no more babies on the way), sell everything to a resale shop and split the profits.

Start a Clothing Exchange Webpage: A mom in my town started a Facebook group for families in the area to post both what they are ISO (“in search of”) and what they have to sell or give away. The group now has over 400 members and is like a resale shop but without the middle person. Make up a flier announcing your new group and stick it in common areas of a few neighborhoods around you, word will travel fast! (As the group’s coordinator, you may want to make it a closed group and have potential new members provide some address verification that they actually live in the area before allowing them to join)

Leave Tags On: A huge mistake I made early on was to cut off the tags and wash new clothes the moment I received or bought them, despite being told by many experienced moms not to. If you keep the receipts and leave the tags on until you absolutely need something, you will probably wind up being able to return a lot of unused (or impulsively bought) items.

Never Buy Ahead: While I was still pregnant I came across some adorable winter baby clothes on sale. Calculating that mine should be wearing 6-9 month clothes during the colder months, I bought tiny thermal vests, thick flannel jammies, and sweaters. Only problem – my son wound up wearing 6-9 months when he was about 4 months old – which was in balmy August – and not only that but we had one of the mildest winters I ever remember and he wound up never wearing any of them. Money wasted.

It might seem like a good idea to stock up on larger-sized clothes when you see them on sale, but the problem is that kids and babies grow at all different rates, and the size you anticipate they’ll be wearing when a certain season comes could be drastically different than the size they actually will be wearing. Save yourself money and wait until they really truly need something.

Avoid Impractical or Novelty Clothes and Accessories: Tiny baby tuxedos with matching fedoras are cute. So are itty bitty mermaid outfits. But how often is your baby really going to wear that, besides for a one-time photo op? Last night I watched a couple next to us at dinner try to force the feet of their screaming, flailing infant into pink-glittered cowgirl boots. “Does she really need to wear these?…” muttered the dad, to which the mother responded through gritted teeth, “YES….THEY…WERE NOT…CHEAP…SHE’S GOING…TO WEAR THEM.”

Stick to things they will use over and over (and that are food friendly – outfitting your toddler in a pure white cable knit sweater is just asking for it…). Even accessories you “think” you might need – like that pair of aquasocks for your 9 month old…probably not going to really need them (refer back to “Leave Tags On” – buy it if you must. Leave it with tags on in the bag and look at the price tag every day thinking of all the other things you could buy with the $30 you would get from returning the miniature medical scrubs).

Save Everything: If you are planning on having another baby, save all those clothes! Buy a few large plastic tubs, put one by the dresser or in the closet, and as your baby outgrows things you can toss them into the tub, so that you’ll have everything already sorted by size for the next one. You will also find what clothes you had extra of or that you just didn’t like, so make it a point to dress your baby at least once in everything you have for them so you can determine whether you want to keep it or give it away/sell it.

And if money gets really tight – strip that kid down to their diaper and let them spend the day roaming the house semi-nude. Less clothes and laundry, plus they’re much easier to hose down that way.

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About This Blogger

Kelsey Swann

Kelsey Swann is a first-time mom to a sweet and active one-year-old boy, and wife to a wonderful Canadian import. Born and raised in San Diego, she was an elementary school teacher for ten years before making the change to Stay at Home Mommy. The opportunity to stay home has allowed her to dive headfirst into learning the ropes of how to make and store all of her son’s baby and now toddler food from scratch, which in turn has encouraged healthier eating for the whole household. When not flexing her newfound culinary muscles, this Mama enjoys flexing her real muscles in Muay Thai Boxing and at-home workouts, doing activities with her son’s playgroup, and traveling the world with her family.