Fighting Back Against The Baby Industrial Complex
Expecting a baby, we’ve discovered, is an experience rife with the expectation of consumption. And not just any consumption–the newest, shiniest, safest, cutest, most top-of-the-line consumption. There’s a perception in our culture that babies are expensive as a rule and that new parents will shell out hundreds if not thousands in order to adequately prepare for bringing a life into this world. And wouldn’t any worthy parent spend any sum to ensure that their child is happy, healthy, and protected? Of course we would! But we don’t need to.
As extreme frugality enthusiasts who structure our lives to avoid the spending that’s so ingrained and accepted in our culture, it’s fascinating to sit in the marketing hot seat for the mother of all product lines: baby paraphernalia. Mr. Frugalwoods and I are a little over halfway through pregnancy with our baby girl (I’m 22 weeks along) and we’re navigating an entirely different path to parenthood–one that involves almost no spending at all.
Babies = Buying?
Mr. Frugalwoods and I are the recipients of a literal deluge of ads, advice, must-buy lists, and encouragement to spend, spend, spend from sources as diverse as the parenting books we’re voraciously reading (checked out from the library, of course), well-meaning friends and family, the internet, and anyone else on earth who learns we’re expecting.
Since neither Mr. Frugalwoods nor I feels even the slightest tug to buy anything new (for Babywoods or otherwise), we have an eye-opening front-row view of how our culture inundates with the clarion call to spend.
As someone in the unique position of receiving all of this advice to buy, but not buying into any of it, I’ve been reflecting on why it is that our consumer culture hounds parents so mercilessly with advertising that’s often tantamount to threats. The undercurrent is that if you don’t purchase this device for your kiddo, they’re going to be left out, behind, not as smart, and not as safe.
It’s A Life Event, Better Spend Money!!
Momentous life events and special occasions are a marketer’s dream. And it seems that a new baby is the true golden goose. Vendors of baby goods prey on new parents’ insecurities, hopes, and fears about their upcoming bundle-o-joy. And, interestingly, it seems to be fear that they target most acutely.
Sure, Mr. FW and I have a healthy dose of fear and anticipation over bringing a new life into this world–what rational person wouldn’t?! However, we know we can’t allay those fears through buying. But that doesn’t stop marketers from touting that their $240 infant swing is the most likely to make our baby a physicist by age three. It sounds outrageous, but marketers play to expectant parents’ basest fears: that they won’t be able to adequately care for their children.
Mr. FW and I are still novices in charting the waters of frugal parenting, but what we’ve discovered thus far in our nascent journey is that babies aren’t nearly as expensive as the baby industrial complex would have us believe. At least, the preparation for them isn’t. I certainly can’t speak to the actual parenting of Babywoods yet (all she does these days is eat and kick me 🙂 ), but equipping a nursery the frugal way is an entirely feasible undertaking.
A Very Frugal Nursery
Since babies do obviously need some stuff (though far less than the standard American idealized version of a nursery crammed with devices intended to do everything from genie your diapers to transform your baby into Einstein), we’ve gotten frugally creative in our baby gear acquisition.
Thus far, we’ve spent a whopping $20 on baby accessories: $10 for a charming baby swing from a garage sale (see photo below) and $10 for a bag of 53 baby outfits, 3 hats, and 2 blankets from another garage sale (see photo above). Everything else in Babywoods’ retinue is a used hand-me-down.
Although we don’t have a cluttered home and Mr. FW and I own less than the typical American couple, I’m not a minimalist and I don’t try to be. Instead, I take a pared down, organized, tidy approach to our possessions.
And that’s the same outlook we’re applying to baby trappings. While I fully realize we could bring Babywoods home from the hospital with little more than a few onesies, diapers, and a car-seat, that level of minimal baby-rearin’ just isn’t for us (props to anyone who can do this–I give you mad respect!).
One of the main reasons I don’t like skating too close to the minimalist line is that I don’t like being caught off guard and finding myself in desperate need of something. Desperation always = spending more. When I plan ahead and slowly acquire items over time, I’m able to secure the best deals and truly feel prepared for what’s ahead. And slowly is the operative word in how Babywoods’ nursery came together.
The Long, Patient Game Of Hand-Me-Downs
Mr. FW and I actually began the process of accruing baby items 17 months ago–which, for anyone skilled at math or baby gestation lengths–was long before we conceived our little girl. Why did we start so early? Because a friend of mine was getting rid of her son’s crib and changing table and she mentioned to me that she was probably going to set them out by the side of the road. She’d ordered her son’s big boy bed and wanted the baby effects gone. The other hitch for her? She and her husband weren’t looking forward to disassembling everything and carrying it down their winding, Victorian staircase. Enter two frugal weirdos with an eye for opportunity.
I shared with her that Mr. FW and I hoped to have a baby and that we’d be thrilled to come disassemble and remove the furniture for her. She was ecstatic; we were ecstatic. It was a match made in frugal heaven. So, without even the slightest inkling of when we’d actually conceive (turns out, it was a whopping 12 months later), we trekked over to her home one Sunday and Mr. FW spent the afternoon disassembling the furniture, much to the delight of her two sons who called him a “real tool man.” If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is.
While Mr. FW worked, my sweet friend rummaged around and threw together a bunch of other baby items for us to take–a carrier, monitors, a sling, a potty, a high-chair seat, the changing table pad, blankets, the crib mattress and sheets, a pack-n-play, clothes, and myriad other accouterments. She kept asking me, “Are you sure you want all this junk? It’s so old and its been through two boys already!” I reassured her that we’d gladly take anything she didn’t want and so she kept filling up bags. After thanking my friend profusely, we carted our treasures home and stuck them in a spare bedroom, not knowing when, if ever, we’d be able to use them. But, we knew that if we didn’t end up using them, someone else would and we’d pass them along.
And that, my frugal friends, is the genesis story for how Babywoods has an entirely hand-me-down/used nursery and layette.Our gratitude to our friend for giving us all of these things is profound and what’s interesting is that she’s grateful to us in return for taking them off her hands. What I gleaned from that first experience is that people are often desperate to clear baby objects out of their basements and attics. What I also learned is that baby products often expire, are recalled, or otherwise deemed “old” after a mere few years. And often, they’re still perfectly fine!
My Thoughts On Recalled Baby Goods (aka use common sense)
The crib my friend thoughtfully gave us is technically “recalled” since it’s a drop-side crib. However, it’s equipped with a conversion kit to prevent the drop-side from operating. Hence, problem fixed! But the issue for drop-side crib owners is that it’s illegal to sell a recalled baby product, even on the used wilds of Craigslist.
Thus, scores of utterly fine cribs are left out for the garbage truck while parents-to-be bolt to the store to buy the newest upgrade of crib, which–as manufacturers are wont to do–will probably be recalled for another reason at a future date. I’m certainly not condoning unsafe practices when it comes to babies, I’m merely advocating for common sense measures.
Another note I’ll add is that it’s only wise to take a used car-seat from a trusted friend or family member who can vouch for the fact that its never been in an accident. Once a car-seat is in an accident, its not considered safe since it could’ve sustained imperceptible damage. Best to procure either a new car-seat or one from a known source.
Furthermore, Goodwill (at least in our area) won’t accept donations of any baby items that are classified as “containment devices.” This rules out anything that holds baby, such as: cribs, car-seats, high chairs, swings, jumperoos, and the like. That’s a whole lotta gear that suddenly has nowhere to go. And in most cases, there’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong or unsafe about these products. Solution? Enter: the Buy Nothing Project.
The Buy Nothing Project: The Greatest Frugal Idea Ever
I’ve touted the merits of the Buy Nothing Project before, but I can’t laud them enough. It’s an international organization with hyper-local branches that facilitate giving away things for free to one’s neighbors (check to see if there’s one in your area, and if not, consider starting your own). I joined my local Buy Nothing Project earlier this year and am blown away by the generosity and benevolence of the members. I’ve received many items and I’ve also given away a bunch of stuff we no longer need.
It’s a brilliant system and no money ever exchanges hands. From their website: “The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.” Wow. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
The Buy Nothing Project is such a perfect articulation of the frugal, reusing, community-building life Mr. FW and I advocate for that I can’t believe I didn’t come up with the idea! But I didn’t and I’m indebted to whoever did.
Through Buy Nothing, we’ve received a staggering amount of baby hand-me-downs: clothes, blankets, bottles, pacifiers, a bassinet, a jumperoo (gotta love that name), toys, diapers, books, maternity clothes, nursing bras, a baby thermometer, a nursery mobile, and more. I’m thankful to all of the parents who’ve given me their old baby things and I’m overjoyed that a community exists where nothing goes to waste. Sure, the stuff is used and sometimes stained or a bit chewed on, but it doesn’t matter. It’s all perfectly usable and functional for Babywoods to add her own chew marks and stains. This is a drooling, sticky, gooey, adorable baby we’re talking about after all :). Let’s be honest, her stuff is going to get dirty.
Sidenote: There are other sources of free goods beyond the Buy Nothing Project, and you might find that one of these (or another source entirely) is more active in your local community: the free section of Craigslist, Freecycle, and a free section at the town dump.
The White Whale Of Baby Goods
One contraption I was almost certain Mr. FW and I would have to bite the bullet and pay for (used on Craigslist, of course) was a stroller. Unlike just about everything else for babies, strollers don’t seem to lose their value quite as precipitously. Plus, many people use them for years–if not a decade–depending on the age spread between their kids. And short of some sort of stroller catastrophe, they last for the long haul. Thus, we were resigned to shelling out the dough for one. I know that many folks get by sans stroller entirely, but as city dwellers, we walk around town all the time and knew we wanted a stroller as an option for baby-totin’.
But how wrong I was to doubt the generosity of Buy Nothing. I casually posted on the group the other day that if anyone happened to have a stroller they were giving away, I’d be most appreciative. I didn’t expect anyone to respond, but I figured it was worth a shot before we got down to the business of used stroller shopping. Lo and behold, someone replied. And now, we are the recipients of a Bugaboo stroller, which we wheeled home from a few blocks away, completely free of charge.
This stroller is six years old (waaaaaay younger than our 19-year-old car) and probably worth more than our car (no offense, Frugalwoods-mobile). Little did I know until after we got the thing home and began searching online for an instruction manual: this brand of stroller retails new for circa $1,149. Oh you read that right, I didn’t accidentally add a digit.
Needless to say, our frugal eyes nearly popped right out when we saw that figure. I don’t think Mr. FW and I have ever spent that much on any single item–even our new king-sized mattress was only $279. What shocked me the most is that this charitable person just gave us this unbelievably expensive stroller when she could’ve sold it on Craigslist for likely upwards of $300. I was stunned.
And I had a profound revelation: people are caring and altruistic. The family that gave us this stroller doesn’t know us, isn’t related to us, doesn’t have a vested interest in us “owing” them anything–in fact, we’ll probably never see them again. Yet they were willing to give us this apparatus that they no longer need and that we can use. Wow. Talk about a lesson in humanity and good will. This selfless act makes me reflect on what else I can give away, what I can do to pay it forward, as it were. While I don’t own anything that expensive to give away, I certainly have useful things I can pass on to others.
After we assembled the Bugaboo in its infant bassinet configuration (it also converts to hold a car-seat and then to a toddler seat), Mr. FW and I stood back and gaped.
This stroller is beautiful and, after I washed it up, it looks brand new. We both agreed we’re almost embarrassed to use it. Good thing we don’t care what people think about us. And, good thing I mentioned last month that I’ve stopped myself from judging people with high-end strollers. You never know how a possession came into someone’s life and I, for one, will never judge an expensive stroller owner again!
Put The Word Out
That you’re open for hand-me-downs! Just as I did for our stroller, if you’re interested in receiving people’s give-aways, let it be known. As soon as we shared with the world that we were expecting Babywoods, I put the word out that we were willing and delighted to take any and all hand-me-downs of baby paraphernalia. Sometimes people are surprised that I actually want hand-me-downs since there’s a common misconception that new parents only want brand new supplies for their brand new baby. But once I let them know my true feelings, they start bringing me bags of recycled baby clothes.
Hand-me-downs are certainly the most glorious trappings of the frugal weirdo’s lifestyle. I’ve shared with you my penchant for finding free stuff by the side of the road, purchasing clothes from thrift stores (or just not buying them at all), shopping used on Craigslist and at garage sales, but nothing quite tops the wonder of a genuine hand-me-down. In the array of second-hand furnishings that comprise the Frugalwoods home, I think nothing is quite so revered. And they’ve never been more apropos for us than they are now.
Despite the fact that no one in my office knows I’m Mrs. Frugalwoods, they do know that I’m frugal and appreciate reusing things. I have no shame about my frugality–it’s an aspect of my personality.
This is a fabulous side benefit of being outwardly frugal–my friends, colleagues, and family members all realize that instead of throwing something out, they can give it to me or to another frugal person. And since there are quite a few young parents in my office, they’ve been a marvelously generous source of hand-me-downs and parenting advice
Keeping things from the landfill is a personal crusade of mine. We live in such a disposable culture and we take everything we own for granted. I’m guilty of this too, but I’m on a mission to reuse more and waste less.
In addition to friends, colleagues, and the venerable Buy Nothing Project, I am deeply grateful to my sister (a fellow frugalista), who in collaboration with my mom (the original frugalista), mailed me all of her three kids’ baby clothes. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to not only have these items, but to know that my daughter will be sharing these early memories with her cousins. And, some of the clothes actually date back as far as my sister, my brother, and myself! Plus, many of these clothes were second-hand when my sister’s kids wore them, which makes this their third, fourth or fifth baby–now that’s reducing, reusing, and recycling!
And my family members aren’t the only ones mailing me hand-me-downs. Last week, I was thrilled to receive a box of goodies from my friend Cat over at Budget Blonde, who sent me an awesome maternity skirt (see photo at right) she wore during her pregnancy among other hand-me-downs. Another dear friend, L, whose own baby is only six months old, mailed me yet another box of books, clothes, and a maternity dress.
This incredible outpouring of kindness and generosity makes me feel so loved and so welcomed into the fellowship of parents. I honestly appreciate hand-me-downs and other used gifts just as much as new gifts.
To me, they’re all expressions of love, whether the giver paid money for them or not. I don’t put much store into how much something costs–I truly do believe it’s always the thought that counts. It means a great deal to me that my friends and family are all helping Mr. FW and I prepare for our darling Babywoods. It’s amazing how loved she is already!
Another tenet I follow is to write thank-you notes for hand-me-downs. Since I consider them just as valuable as a new gift and since I appreciate them to the same degree, I make it a practice to write a note to all of my hand-me-down givers. I think graciously and gratefully accepting second-hand items is an important component of the virtuous cycle.
The Imperfect Joy Of Hand-Me-Downs
Our aforementioned stroller is admittedly an aberration. Most of the items we’ve been fortunate enough to receive are pretty well loved, and they show it. But we don’t care. Perfection and choice are luxury goods with a hefty price tag. Sure, I could browse Amazon Baby for hours and design “the perfect” nursery for Babywoods replete with the cutest little crib and the most precious mobile, and the trendiest pink bebe outfits, but to what end? So that we could drop thousands of bucks on material goods that she’ll outgrow, spit up in, and teeth on? No thank you!
I prefer our assorted panoply of used goods that are blue for boys, worn, outdated, and perhaps not my very favorite style. Because I’d much rather save that money for something that matters–namely, our ability to retire early and both be stay-at-home parents for Babywoods and her potential future siblings. Not to mention for her education and enrichment. The ability to nurture and teach her on a daily basis is a gift that Mr. FW and I want to give our daughter–not a brand new, high-end nursery.
Yes, she’ll probably wear used clothes her entire childhood, just as Mr. FW and I do, but she’ll be loved and paid attention to. Knowing what we value in parenting is critical for us in avoiding the endless train of expensive baby temptations. It’s easy not to spend when you’re working towards a goal of lifelong family togetherness out on a homestead. The latest baby bouncer/musical instrument combo doesn’t even hold a candle.
What are your thoughts on hand-me-downs?
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My kids are 18 & 26 so its been awhile. I am a true thrifter and 90% frugal, with a few lapses. Back when the first baby came along I was handed down a white wheeled wicker bassinet from my best friend. Great, very handy, then we stored little baby toys in it. My friend had another baby so back it went. Oh, now my neighbor is pregnant so off the bassinet went again but we decided to sign our kid’s names & birth dates on the underside. Well, that bassinet went around 8 times with 8 babies name on the underside. Finally it was too tattered and dingy to use anymore so my neighbor & I got it back, had our kids who were around 10 years old by then, plant bright red geraniums in it. It looks so charming, the flowers grew huge! My oldest son is 26, just moved away to Tampa. He’s a 4th grade teacher and in the Army reserves. He was a preemie coming 7.5 weeks early weighing only 4 pounds. Now he’s a burly workout obsessed 6’2″ dude with a tattoo, maybe 2, not sure. My youngest is 18 and 6’5″, born Xmas day (my actual due date) so we named him Nick. He just graduated from high school and leaving for t he Army full time in Aug. We are facing a complete empty nest wishing we had those tiny foot prints in the sandbox, Legos and Ninja Turtles laying around like the old days. Please cherish every moment, even the tough ones.
Many congratulations to you on raising two successful (and tall 🙂 )young men! You must be so proud! I love that your bassinet was passed around so many times–and the idea to sign names on the underside is a great one. Thank you for sharing this :)!
What a lovely memory of the bassinet!
You two are amazing and nothing less. I used consignment stores for my two girls’ clothes. Babies don’t need much. – diapers mostly. We took a trip to the mountains when my firstborn was about a month old and I opened a suitcase (the old-fashioned hard kind) lined with a some blankets as her bed. She couldn’t roll over yet and it worked great. I had got the idea after reading where someone used a drawer lined with blankets when their baby was born for its bed. I liked the baby gowns with a drawstring at the bottom when mine were firstborns – so much diaper changing those first few weeks and that was so much easier. 🙂
Thank you so much :)! Sounds like you had a great system worked out with your girls! I like the idea of sleeping in a suitcase while traveling–efficient and cute 🙂
So happy to hear your pregnancy is going well. You look great, too. There’s just no need to go into debt because a baby is on the way, as you have just proved in your post. I just continue to be amazed at the maturity and sound decision-making that both of you young people continue to exhibit. Being able to provide your children with a loving, supportive home and an education to start them off on the right foot when it’s their time to enter the world is a far better gift than any material item. Congrats to both of you!
Many thanks, Bev! That’s very kind of you to say :). We’re definitely novices to parenting, but we’re hoping that starting off on the frugal path will help us at least avoid some of the financial pitfalls.
How right you are about the baby industry! It’s much like the wedding industry, those other life events industries. As babies my girls had the most beautiful pre-loved hand me downs and wanted for nothing! The perfect giving, recycling community of what is otherwise landfill. Our 2 year old was spoilt for her recent birthday and we were able to ask family and friends for just what we needed, amongst which is a voucher for new shoes, the things we can’t skimp on. But for the rest, pre loved is fabulous and saves our pennies for where they need to go. Bravo to your approach! Enjoying your posts which sing to our values, and congratulations on your girl! (We have three of them!) Karen
That’s wonderful that your girls have used hand-me-downs! It’s such a great way to save money. And, like you said, keeps perfectly good items from being thrown out and wasted. Many thanks to you for reading and commenting :).
I completely agree that babies don’t need nearly as much gear as the ads make out, and you don’t need to spend a lot on what you do need. (I do agree with your stance on car seats.) There is more and more research coming out on how too many toys can lead to behavioral problems, and the hyper-safety parenting that’s almost expected now is resulting in under-prepared college kids who don’t know how to make decisions or take responsibility. I’m not saying it all hinges on what we buy our babies, but desires we have for our kids to be happy, healthy, and successful aren’t best met in the way our culture is currently selling.
You make great points about how more is not necessarily better for kids. I agree that the helicopter parenting style doesn’t let kids explore, learn, and make their own mistakes! And, it’s so true that we can’t buy our kids that happiness and health we want for them.
I love hand me downs. I even let friends and family know that they are acceptable as birthday gifts… Especially used toys and books for the kids. And I have to say, I am very impressed with how well you have done preparing for BabyWoods. Nice job!
I’m a huge fan of hand-me-downs as gifts! I think that’s a fabulous route to go for birthdays–thanks for sharing the idea :).
The vast majority of my son’s stuff was handed down to us, purchased used, or given to us as gifts. He was a pretty huge surprise (through adoption) and the timing between learning of his existence and bringing him home was pretty quick. So we were pretty unprepared in the gear department. It was more than fine. Anything we needed just sort of showed up. At the time, this mystified me, but then when I started passing my son’s stuff on, I learned how much fun it is to give away the sweet baby things to new parents.
Because everything was given to us, and because we had no immediate plans for more kids, we passed it all on as soon as he was done with it. We didn’t feel right about it sitting in the attic unused for years or possibly forever. And we didn’t feel right about selling it, certainly. This meant that we had almost nothing when we discovered that I was pregnant, which was also pretty surprising.
But it’s fine. We’re not worried about accumulating more baby junk in the next 13-18 weeks (I am 24 weeks now.) We also feel fine about our little man (yep, another boy!) wearing used onesies and slobbering all over pre-loved toys. He is also going to be sporting pink cloth diapers, courtesy of his little girl cousins. I sincerely hope that this is the most traumatic thing he has to bring up in therapy some day.
That’s awesome! I love that you were on both the giving and receiving ends of the baby hand-me-down train. And, many congrats again on your pregnancy! We must have nearly identical due dates (which I think we talked about already… but I can’t talk baby stuff enough these days 🙂 )! I think that’s great he’s going to be rocking pink diapers. Babywoods has quite a few blue “boy” outfits that she’ll be sporting. I figure it’s good for their character building and self-confidence ;).
Pink and blue are just colours not genders. Just saying don’t worry about colour of clothes yet.
Excellent post Mrs. FW! Having three little ones we live off of hand me downs. Not only do kiddos grow insanely too fast, and not making it worth spending to buy some cute outfit, but with the availability of used items and friends/family giving items as gifts it just doesn’t make sense to spend the way that’s preached to us.
What bothers me is the stat out there saying it costs $250, 000 to get a child to 18. Sure, kids can be expensive, but there is no reason why they have to be anywhere near that expensive. They get their numbers assuming new everything and items that simply aren’t needed. Outside of a safe car seat, safe place to sleep and clothing they need very little their first few years.
I love reading figures like that – $250K to raise a child! – If it took that much, there’d be far fewer children in the world, even in the US.
I’m with both of you–$250K is ridiculous! John–I love hearing that you’ve done hand-me-downs for all 3 of your kiddos, that’s impressive and awesome :). It’s always nice to know we’re not the only ones who feel this way!
I wish that I didn’t buy into the whole consumerism of having a child when I had my son. I don’t think that he had anything as a hand me down which means we spent a ridiculous amount of money and he was barely aware of where he was for the first two years of his life. Now I think short of a car seat just about anything for a baby is a great hand me down if you are lucky enough to get it.
We feel so fortunate that we’ve received so many hand-me-downs! It’s an incredible boon to us to not have to buy new things for her and we’re delighted to take the stuff off of people’s hands :).
I love this post. I daughter just turned 4, and it brings back lots of warm memories. There’s something so special about sharing baby things, I feel like a little joy comes with them. 🙂
We got Barnyard Dance as a hand me down book too. My husband used to act it out when our daughter was about 18 months old, and she could never stop laughing! Oh the fun you and Mr.Fugalwoods are going to have…
Good to know that Barnyard Dance requires daddy to act it out–I’ll pass this along to Mr. FW so he can start practicing his moves ;).
We love hand me downs and receive a lot. With 7 kids, there is a gender and age for whatever anyone is giving away.
I am a bit of a minimalist with my babies because I have learned that for the first several months, all they want is to be close.
List of things I didn’t need: crib, bottles, playard/exercauser, pacifier (babies hated them, and they can cause breastfeeding problems), baby food (babies can go from breast to fork mashed real food at 6 months).
One helpful book that formed part of my philosophy was The Continuum Concept.
The only gear I needed other than a car seat was my breasts, cloth diapers and a soft cloth baby carrier.
That’s wonderful to hear how few things babies truly need. It’s certainly overwhelming at first when you see all the stuff that’s marketed to new parents. It has honestly been much less stressful to know that we’re just not going to buy much of anything–makes life that much easier :)! Thanks for the book recommendation!
I cannot believe you scored a free Bugaboo!!! Nice work! (You’re right – it was incredibly kind of the giver.)
We get a lot of my daughter’s clothing from a neighbor, who has a daughter who’s 18 months older than mine. This neighbor has very nice taste in clothing, and she sells it to me at near-garage-sale prices. My daughter has been outfitted in steeply-discounted, like-new clothing from not-cheap brands for years. Not quite as nice as free, but still a great deal!
I can’t believe we got a free Bugaboo either! I think I’m still in shock ;).
That’s a great deal you have going with your neighbor–nice!!
Wow! Only spent $20 so far for all that baby stuff – that’s amazing! You are totally rockin’ it and not letting Babywoods cause you to spend money more than you normally would.
Thank you! We’re trying 🙂
My sister and brother-in-law decorated my nephew’s nursery with all new stuff. After they took him home they commented that his room was the nicest in the house, and he couldn’t see past the end of his nose! Since then they’ve wised up and become more frugal.
All my gifts to him are experiences, some of which do cost money, like a museum. And I always give him pictures of the day. He’s never received toys from me.
I love the idea of giving experiences as gifts! That’s such an awesome way to build memories and cut down on stuff :).
Great work! It looks like you have almost everything that you will need. Are you having a shower? You can always have a diaper party instead, where friends come over and each one brings you a box of diapers. That is one thing that you can’t get second-hand.
Have you heard about Finland? The government gives new parents a box of essential items for the baby. And the box is a crib!
We probably won’t have a baby shower, but a diaper party is a great idea. I have heard of that program in Finland and it’s just amazing–what a perfect thing!
Hand-me-downs are great! I think not buying into the baby hype is powerful – take that industrial complex! 😉 I know as kids we had lots of hand-me -down stuff from nieghbours and cousins. Also of note is wedding-hype stuff…my niece and her fiance are being sucked in pretty good. I shudder to think how much they are spending. Oh well – no judging, right? 😉
My sis-in-law has 4 boys and hand-me-downs and recycled items are her mainstay. Especially as the boys grow so fast – bikes, sports gear and clothes all get reused and passed on when no longer needed. I think her family even has a crib/bassinet thingy (I don’t have kids, lol) that has “housed” my sis-in-law and her cousins as babies, and is now used for their kids. Someone has put little brass name plates for each child – pretty cute.
Ahh yes, the wedding-hype is probably just as bad as the baby-hype. And, that’s great that your sister-in-law is rocking the hand-me-downs! I love the nameplate idea–so cute!
I think hand me downs are fantastic! It’s incredible everything that you have acquired for Baby Woods. It goes to show the generosity & love of those around you. 🙂 Today, I am definitely looking into the Buy Nothing project, and if we have a branch around here. There are several items that I have acquired (as hand me downs, mostly!) that are still in great condition that my former high school/college self has outgrown. That’s another big life event – getting ready/buying for college, yikes. If there are a few people I can help out by giving away such items through this project, I would be elated. Thanks for sharing such wonderful advice, so much to take note of! 🙂
It really does show just how much love and generosity is out there in the world! Good luck with your local Buy Nothing–I hope you have one! And if not, I think it’s pretty easy to start one (there are instructions on their website) :). Happy hand-me-downs!
Love me some hand-me-downs! It’s great for the little ones because they grow out of clothes fast and get bored with toys quick too. Plus, when they are really little, they more interested in playing with empty boxes or whatever else is laying around. That stroller is crazy expensive! What does it do? I saw someone with a stroller with a feature: “day time running lights!? Really? And even that stroller wasn’t $1149 though it may be close. Anyway, once your little one grows out of that stroller, you can get an umbrella stroller for like $20 brand new…but you can probably get one free since I’m sure there are people willing to give away something that they spent “only” $20 on.
Cheap umbrella strollers are the worst. I bought a mclaren umbrella stroller. It is almost 11 years old and going on to its 3 and 4th kids. We received a few cheap umbrella strollers both new and used and nothing comes close to the manuverability, Ease of use and lightness of the mclaren. World of difference.
Good to know re. the umbrella strollers! I’m just so thankful for all of these hand-me-downs. I’m sure Babywoods will be growing out of clothes right and left, so I’m glad to not pay for them!
Wow that stroller is nice! Looks like you are doing well 🙂
I’m all for hand-me downs, especially when things most likely won’t be used for a long time. Great job on not spending a ton of money and being smart about it.
Thanks! We’re pretty thrilled with our free stroller! Hand-me-downs really are the best 🙂
We scoured CL for months and scored a bunch of cloth diapers. Almost all of our baby goods were used or hand-me-downs. We chose not to find out the sex of the baby and also chose not to have a baby shower (though that only barely halted the hordes of pink crap that poured in after the birth). Baby was born at home, planned, so we saved money on hospital costs. After inspecting for mold, I used my SIL’s breast pump. We did purchase bottles new, only of the few things we did purchase new, as I went back to work while DH became SAHD. We had a pack n play, but it turned into a stuffed animal/cloth diaper mosh pit – as due to undiagnosed tongue & lip ties and ANS dysfunction due to vagal nerve compression from torticollis, baby would only sleep tummy to tummy on my chest until month 3. Almost 3.5 years later, she’s still in our bed and we all couldn’t be happier. If you are planning to breastfeed, I cannot recommend enough putting aside some funds for a competent IBCLC and some for post birth bodywork.
Sounds like you had a wonderful and frugal start for your little girl :)! We are tremendously fortunate that our insurance will pay for a visit with a lactation consultant and since I’m planning to breastfeed, I’m very grateful for it. Did you have bottles you could pump directly into? Or were they separate? I’m trying to figure out how that system will work for us.
I can very much relate to your friend loading up bags of baby stuff for you. I love knowing that someone can get some use out of it. Once we are done with something I just want it gone. No one wants it? Goodwill, here I come!
It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to pass along things we no longer need! And, I’m tremendously grateful for all the incredible things we’ve received :). That’s awesome you’re on the donation train too!
Dang! That’s an expensive stroller! Babywoods will ride around the neighborhood in style!
I love hand me downs. I’ve been lucky with the fact that my sister is an impulsive spender, so I get a lot from her. Last weekend, I got 2 huge boxes of household products. Over the years, I’ve gotten bags and bags of her old clothes.
A few years ago, I helped a dear friend downsize after a long term relationship breakup. It felt so good to be there for her when she needed it. Our friendship has been so much stronger since then. As another benefit, I was able to handle and properly dispose of all the stuff she wasn’t bringing with her (which was a lot). There was a lot saved from the landfill that day. Most of it went to goodwill, but I kept a few things… Like the Christmas tree and wrapping paper collection. Except I barely buy gifts to wrap! Crap.
That’s awesome you were able to help to help your friend clear out her stuff–I think things can hold a powerful connection for us (for better or worse). And, nice score on free things from your sister! I think we’ve been using the same rolls of wrapping paper for going on 5 years now 😉
We have a two year old daughter, and we were very clear from the get-go that raising her wouldn’t be about all the things we could buy her. So many parents end up finding all the things that are on those “must-have for baby” lists are actually quite useful. What you have in the pictures, is all we ever needed: a few clothes, blankets, a swing and an activity mat. You are all set!! I am happy you found such an awesome stroller through such a showing of generous goodwill; you will never regret having an awesome stroller. The good ones are expensive for a reason. If you are outdoorsy, and don’t drive much, the stroller with the smooth wheels will be the best investment a parent will have make!
*** So many parents end up finding all the things that are on those “must-have for baby” lists are actually NOT useful. (typo above, oops!)
This is music to my ears :)! Thank you for sharing! I have a hunch that a lot of the stuff isn’t necessary. I think we’re just going to go with whatever we receive for free and then, after she’s born, we can make educated purchases if we really seem to need something. Congrats to you for raising a frugal baby :)!
We pay for next to nothing for our son. We’ve done disposable diapers, and these days he is quite a big eater, but honestly, everything is freely given. I have clothes for the kid until he is 4 years old! Babies can be super cheap. I mostly worry about when he gets a bit older and we have to decide between yes and no for activities and the associated costs (both time and money).
Yay! I love hearing this! I can definitely see more challenges as they age and have more options open to them of activities, sports, etc. But I’m sure there’s a frugal way to do it :)!
I don’t have kids but I see people I work with spend soooo much money on kids. Good thing you are going to prepare BW for your FW lifestyle because when she is older, she will encounter peer pressure that says she is ‘not cool’ unless she has the most current name designer branded whatever. It is especially intense for girls vis-à-vis fashion.
And the ‘cool’ thing changes every year, if not every season, because the marketers make money that way.
Aside from the cash pool at work, I have only given one baby gift (don’t know many people who’ve had kids). I gave a set of organic body products such as powder, lotion, for both baby AND the new mom.
I am always shocked at some of the price tags I see on kids clothes and toys.
I had enough stuff because I was an only child who got presents from aunts, uncles, grandparents and my mom’s friends. And I purely hated most of the fancy, uncomfortable girly clothes they insisted on giving me. Crinolines and lace! YUCK!
Body products sounds like a wonderful gift! I think anything consumable is always a win for gifting. People need that stuff!
Amen sista! With my pregnancy (currently 26 weeks) I am hoping to avoid buying anything new. Like you, I have homesteading dreams on the horizon I need to save for, but the environment impact of new clothes is also a deterrent. I am also inspired by The Green Mama who described how most new clothes off gas as well, which isn’t great for our new babies. So many great reasons to avoid the new, so thank you for this post; I felt inspired to put a post up on facebook with a request for used baby good, with a link to your article for support:)
It’s funny, a lot of my pregnant friends have nurseries set up that are stylish and cute, and to be honest, I won’t be setting one up for at least six months to a year, and when I do, it will be all used goods. Babies really only want to sleep, eat, and poop, for the first year, so I am pretty sure they don’t care if they have their own room yet, ha ha.
Thanks again for sharing!
Woohoo! That’s awesome! So excited you requested used baby goods–that’s fabulous! And, I totally agree with you on the environmental impact of new. Babies definitely don’t care about their own rooms ;). Also, congrats on being 26 weeks! It’s getting real isn’t it? Once we hit the halfway point, it really started to sink in that a baby is on her way!
Great job with staying so frugal with babywoods on the way! 🙂 We had that same play mat only I bought it off Amazon on black Friday and got a super deal but still paid $30 something for it….you made out like a bandit with that one! Little Miss seriously loved that rainbow mat, I’m sure babywoods will too!!
Good to know about the mat! You’re like the fourth person to tell me how much their baby loved the activity mat, so I’m super pleased with that find. The rainbow and giraffe are pretty cute too :). Funny enough, Frugal Hound was afraid of it for some reason… haha
What are plans for diapering? I’m assuming cloth and recommend BumGenius which can often be purchased used. We bought new because we plan to use for future children. Reusable wipes are also a good option and surprisingly easy. Register or invest in a years supply of nipple cream and you will be set. 🙂
Thank you for the suggestions–most appreciated :)!
We went through similar exercise before Baby T was born to get used or hand-me-down clothes and baby items. We bought the crib and stroller used and saved over 50% compared to buying brand new. Not sure if you guys are doing disposable diapers or clothe diapers but I’d recommend clothe diapers as you’d save about $2000+ according to my calculation… just make sure you install a sprayer to help cleaning up the messy diapers.
Sounds like you saved a ton–that’s awesome! Thanks for the tips!
I am all about the used baby items. When my daughter was born a co-worker gave me bags full of her granddaughter’s clothes, which clothed her for a year an a half. Right when I was thinking we might have to start looking for some larger sizes, my husband’s co-worker dumped a truck load of 2-year old clothes and shoes on us. She will be well dressed for another year! For my baby shower I asked for everyone to bring their favorite childhood book. My daughter LOVES books now and she has so many to choose from every night! We are now expecting our second kid and we have everything we need. We don’t know the gender yet but I’m sure we can find some boy hand-me-downs if it ends up being the opposite sex and we will give away my daughter’s clothes for someone else to enjoy.
Love the idea of a book shower! And, that’s awesome you received so many clothes hand-me-downs. I just received another bag of outfits and I think Babywoods is going to be set for at least the first two years :). Many congrats to you on expecting baby #2 :)!!!
This was a very good post.
My boys are 9 and 3. We were “one and done” with the first one. Well, you see how that worked out.
Anyway, with boy #1, we bought a crib (couldn’t find a used one), a play pen, a stroller new. We received hand me down clothing (from a friend with a son 9 month older but 2 years bigger), a car seat (from another friend), a stroller and a booster seat (from a third friend) and a high chair (from a work associate). We got a used swing from a garage sale (that we never used).
You are right about people wanting to get rid of baby stuff. Depending on how far apart your kids are, the stuff is often years old and takes up a lot of space.
We enjoyed the used items and passed them on. For strollers, some sell really well. We got a $100 jogging stroller that lasted for one kid, then broke.
So like I said, we were “one and done”. We got rid of everything as we were done with it. The swing, for example – babies are particular and my son just didn’t like/ didn’t need the swing at all. He had a little bouncy seat that he loved (was a gift). We kept the high chair for visiting families, and the play pen and the crib and the backpack for a friend who was maybe going to have baby. She ended up buying new. So after 5 years, I gave the play pen and the backpack to a friend, and gave the crib away on Freecycle. I gave the crib away as a “toddler bed” because it was a drop crib and they were outlawed. The person who got it had a toddler and were pregnant, so they were going to need a toddler bed.
Of course I got pregnant a month after getting rid of the crib. Live and learn. My friend with our backpack and play pen gave them back when they were done. And gave us a swing. Remember the first swing that was never used? Yeah, more about that later.
For baby #2 – we ended up buying a crib again, because the 2 or 3 people who said they were done and didn’t want theirs, changed their minds. We bought a stroller/ car seat combo on discount. (Ended up freecycling the stroller part when he grew out of the bucket seat and giving the carseat to my friend who had twins). The replacement stroller was $50, still going strong at 2.5 years old, but a bit dirty.
Our second baby? Oh, that swing. We didn’t use it often. But there was this night…at 5.5 weeks. My husband had just left for a week long business trip, the same day his mom left (she came for two weeks). There I was, at home alone with 2 kids, and the baby starts crying. And he cries for 5 straight hours. I literally didn’t know what to do. My first son had never done that (apparently it’s a very normal common thing to happen for a few days around 5-6 weeks of age). I probably would have handled it better had he done it at least once BEFORE everyone left. He cried from 5 to 10, with a 20 min break, just enough to get his brother to bed. Night #2, he cried from 4 till 9. But at 9, I tried the swing, and he calmed down. I thought “can he sleep in this thing??” I didn’t let him, but I did get a couple of hours of peace, and then moved him to his crib.
So that swing was a life saver, even if we used it for only about a week.
For the most part, I have hand-me-downs with baby #2 from about 3 different people. The key is to accept everything. Some things will be unusable, that’s okay. You get rid of them. Keep the rest.
With baby #2 there were a lot more carriers on the market though. So I had a sling that I used when I was out on my own, because I could do it myself. Maya sling? Hand me down from a friend. Anyway, there’s a newborn hold with it. The Moby wrap I had (was actually the Canadian version that was also a hand me down from a friend) was MUCH more comfortable, but hard to put on by yourself. So you almost have to do it in the mirror at home. This was for sure the best for a newborn. The Ergo (which did not exist with baby #1), we bought. I bought the infant insert too, which was useless. Only used it 3 times. I am too short to wear an ergo with the infant insert, though it worked okay for my husband. In my opinion, Ergo is better for older babies. That said, my son is 3, and we still use the Ergo with him about once a week on longer walks. These hold their value and are easy to re-sell.
What I’m getting at is that with carriers and baby contraptions (as my MIL calls them), you dont’ know what the baby will like till you have the baby. So don’t BUY anything. Borrow or get hand me downs. Baby #2 had THREE bouncy seats – ALL were hand me downs, and one of them I literally only used as a footstool when I nursed the baby.
We LOVE used stuff. We finally got rid of the crib (my 3 year old sleeps on a mattress on the floor now). I noticed that cribs just weren’t selling on the FB sale page. So I put out on FB “who needs a crib or knows someone who does”. Otherwise I would have donated it to mother’s helpers. A friend of a friend came to get it.
It seems such a waste to BUY new stuff all the time. Crazy.
That’s fantastic! I love that you were able to acquire so many used things–and then share them with others. It’s so true that there’s just a glut of free baby things out there. No need to buy new, for sure! Good to know on the carriers–my sister gave me her Moby wrap, so I’m hoping that’ll work, but I need to read up on how to use it :). Kudos to you for doing the baby thing frugally!
I remember going to a garage sale and I was obviously poor.
I eyed a few of the baby clothes and I asked how much. She said “oh, that’s free”. And then I eyed a few more baby clothes, “oh, that’s free too”.
I’ll never forget that kindness.
wow that’s so sweet! I like to think that people are generally good.
That really is very kind. I agree with Diana–I think people really are generally good, generous, and giving.
Love this post! We’re at 35 weeks (almost there!) and having been trying to keep the acquiring of baby excess to a minimum. We have amazing friends and family who have handed down a great deal of what we need. One neighbor had a baby almost a year ago and has been thrilled to find a source to pass along unneeded items from her son! We did establish an Amazon registry but have had a hard time filling it up; but it has been a resource for friends and family who want to gift us something. We do tell everyone that we love hand me downs but not everyone has been comfortable with that. The only thing we’ve bought new is the car seat; everything else has been gifts or hand me downs. And the nursery…. what nursery, I ask? I figure his room will evolve and get furnished/decorated as he grows and actually needs or wants his own space. Until then, I’ll happily keep the room as my office! We are looking forward to passing along what we outgrow to another neighbor who recently found out she was pregnant or offering it up via a local up-cycle site!
Huge congrats on your pregnancy! You’re so close :)!!! That’s awesome you’re doing the hand-me-down thing too! I love that we’re not the only first-time parents who feel this way. Rock on!
You have hit the hand-me-down jackpot more than once! My children were raised with hand-me-down clothes and toys from their cousins. It was a huge blessing! They grow so fast, it’s a constant in and out. I would hate to spend money on things that come and go so quickly. It sounds like you are set!
We really have hit the hand-me-down jackpot–I can’t tell you how grateful we are! I had that realization of how fast they grow the other night when I was sorting through a bag of hand-me-down infant clothing and I thought, huh, she’s going to change size every 3 months?? Wow! Glad I’m not buying this stuff :)!
I am almost too embarrassed to admit this, but I was so busy with work that we were totally unprepared for BabyDebtFreeJD when he arrived three weeks early! I had figured he was a first baby, and probably would arrive a week late. As a result, we hadn’t bought diapers, clothes, a crib, bottles, wipes, a baby carrier, or set up the nursery in any way, shape, or form when my water broke. And YET IT WAS STILL OK. We had bought a car seat, so they let us take him home from the hospital, and had a (as in ONE) onesie someone had given us to dress him in. With the power of Costco, Target, and Amazon combined, he remains clothed, diapered, and fed three weeks later . . . and we realized how much stuff we didn’t need and how cheap it was to get those things we did! We still don’t have a nursery, but whatever. He sleeps either in a bassinet by the side of our bed or on top of me or Mr. DebtFreeJD. I assume at some point we will organize ourselves enough to create a bedroom for him to sleep in when he’s old enough. So far he hasn’t noticed that he’s not surrounded by a special baby rocking chairs or nice yellow ducky stencils on the walls.
Many congratulations on your new baby! That’s so exciting :)!!! And hey, you weren’t unprepared, you were just frugalizing the experience ;). Glad to hear all’s going so well for you!
Oh my goodness, what an awesome stroller. The bassinet part is so awesome! I eyed ones like that and quickly decided there was no way we could shell out/ask someone else to. We ended up getting a Babytrend Jogger, which is like the fancy jogging strollers except, um, better and cheaper (I’ve babysat a lot and used all variety of strollers).
One thing I suggest you look for is something to babywear. I personally loved the moby when my baby was tiny, and now we rock the ergo on a regular basis. Both are super awesome, especially for times when you don’t want to haul the stroller around.
Thanks! We’re pretty thrilled about the stroller. I didn’t even know strollers came in ‘bassinet’ form, so I feel really lucky! My sister gave me her old Moby wrap, so I’m hoping that’ll work well for wearing Babywoods. I need to learn how to put it on ;). Good to know that the Ergo is good for older kids.
Wow, that stroller was a score! I am due in Oct. with baby #4. We thought we were done with 3 and gave all our baby stuff away and then moved to a new state, so I’m starting off with nothing and I don’t know enough people here yet to score great hand me downs. I love the Buy Nothing groups, I got a baby bouncy seat and bassinet for free. I bought a huge box of 1-6 months clothing for $25. I’m checking garage sales for a few other items we need. I know many people who decorated their nursery and got ALL the matching baby gear only to realize they need about 20% of it! Also, this is my 1st girl and I was so excited to be able to buy girly things but I can’t believe how much most of it cost!! ($45 for a baby dress…um, no thanks!)
Congratulations on your pregnancy! That’s so exciting!! I wish you all the very best in your search for free/cheap baby stuff :). And, I’m with you on the new clothes for babies–ridiculous! How fun that you’re having your first girl :).
So glad you’re posting about this stuff! My husband and I are not as close to embracing the frugal lifestyle as I’d like to be but we’re determined to be super frugal for our (10 week old) bun in the oven. Between friends and family we’ve already received promises of tons of hand me downs! I’m in the same camp as you about baby supplies as well – I don’t want to be 100% minimalist and not have something I need – but I’m asking other moms and friends who have babysat what was truly necessary versus what’s registry “fluff”.
Good luck to you guys! Can’t wait to read more frugal baby posts!!!
Woohoo! Congrats on your pregnancy! That’s so exciting :). And, the 1st trimester is almost over! I felt sooooooo much better once I hit the 2nd. Now I honestly feel great! That’s really smart to get the lowdown on what you actually need–I’ve been trying to do the same thing. There’s so much stuff out there for babies–it just can’t all be necessary :). I wish you all the best for a smooth (and frugal) pregnancy!
After having 3 kids, I bet we have saved $10,000 by skipping all the buying we were “supposed” to do. We did buy a new crib and mattress (on clearance) that we sold 9 years and 3 babies later for what we paid for it. There have been a few craigslist purchases and some small stuff at retail, but virtually everything was hand me downs, thrift shops, yard sale, or side of the road finds.
Baby stuff has such a short half life. Things like baby swings and those mats with toys dangling down come to mind. We didn’t use those for more than a few months at a time since the kiddos progress so quickly. Soon after they pay attention to something like the play mat, they will learn to crawl (or walk!) and loose all interest in a single item since they can explore the entire world (of your child-proofed home).
That’s awesome! I love that you were able to frugalize it for all 3 of your kiddos. Nicely done! It does seem like they move through sizes/phases/toys really quickly, so I’m super thankful we’re not paying for these various different contraptions :).
The only things I found amazing was my Boppy. Even though I didn’t breastfeed I used that thing every day for 3 years (across two kids). When we were done with it we gave it to my husband’s grandmother. She was confined to a chair every day and it was very helpful for her neck. After she passed away it became a great dog bed!
Then a bag with lots of pockets. And always keep extra plastic bags in the bag! Plus no one tells you to keep a spare outfit for yourself and your husband in the car trunk. Trust me. ????
Thank you for the tips! I actually don’t have any sort of diaper bag yet… hopefully one will come up soon :). Out of curiosity, what did you use the Boppy for? I’m woefully ignorant on these things. Does it prop baby up? Thanks!
It’s for breast feeding-you can rest the baby or your arm on it to give yourself a rest. If you practice “laid back breastfeeding” (where you lean back and let the baby read on your stomach) it’s not as necessary.
Ahhh, gotcha. Thank you for letting me know :)!
love you guys. I love the approach to not really be hardcore minimalists and just being unembarrassed about asking for hand me downs. My sister in law just had the cutest baby boy, and they bought all sorts of crazy stuff (haven’t you heard you need a $1000 glider? it’s like, a hip and cool rocking chair? It’s nice but not like, earth shatteringly great), but got a lot of hand me downs too. Days at home with a newborn are LONG, and if the newborn is willing to tolerate some sort of random baby swing for two weeks, you want that darn baby swing. It’s a crazy thing to spend $150 on, but it’s not a crazy thing to accept used from a friend and pass on to another friend later. When we have a kid, I expect that all sorts of random things will take up very temporary residence in our living room, hopefully to be “stored on Craigslist” (a favorite MMM post) shortly after.
Thanks, Diana :)! Yeah, it works for us not to be super minimalist–it’s just how we roll. Wow, a $1,000 glider? Man oh man! Kudos to you for planning a frugal baby adventure too :).
Love this post! I don’t have kids, but I adore hand me downs of all kinds! Recently I was totally stoked to connect a good friend who was getting rid of all her son’s baby gear (he’s now six) to a coworker who had just learned she was expecting. Both parties were thrilled and even cooler, they have now become friends, too, so we all hang out together. Hand me downs not only save waste and money, but can also build awesome relationships! And I have to thank you for introducing me to Buy Nothing. I joined my local group right after you first mentioned it, and I’ve already been able to help a few people out by giving them items we had but didn’t really need. What a great feeling!
That’s awesome you were able to be the hand-me-down matchmaker! I’m sure they both appreciated it greatly! And, you make a good point about the ability to build friendships. Glad to hear you have a local Buy Nothing–I hope you love it as much as I do :).
We were excited to put together our first baby’s nursery and layette on as little as possible, partially for the challenge of doing it in a nonconsumer way and partly because we aren’t as good at tracking our spending as you are, and were a little worried about how much $ we would actually need for my maternity leave. My husband built an under-crib drawer on castors & awesome storage units out of free (rescued) plywood, I found super discounted ($0.94/each) baskets to slide into them for toy and diaper storage… I re-purposed and made most of the decor, and we did have quite a bit of hand-me-down clothing (either given to us or on loan when friends were “between” babies). We also received quite a few of our things as gifts from generous friends and family, but tried to keep costs down for them when they offered to purchase a specific item for us: we chose a basic crib, and purchased a spiffy high-end-but-old stroller on a classified site for 1/4 of the original cost.
I agree with your rationale about stocking up to prevent “emergency” purchases later, and there’s also a “nesting” aspect – it feels nice to feather that baby’s little nest 🙂 I know my husband was a bit perturbed by all of the stuff he saw coming into the house (whether free or not), because we were living in a tight space — hence all the storage he built– but as the parent who was on the receiving end of all that marketing and product-talk I knew that what we brought in was a drop in the bucket compared to most.
As time went on we were able to fine-tune what we needed: return, give away or sell some things (including things we did like but didn’t want to store until the next baby) because we knew we could probably borrow or purchase used again for the next time (eg. bouncy seats are a dime a dozen). We did borrow a few things for baby #1 that we then COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT and ended up buying for #2, but some of those items are already out on loan now to other new babies. I agree that that time of expecting a baby really shows you peoples generosity and desire to help you out at this special (and also challenging) time in your life. I know it made me tear up more than once! Can’t wait to see the nursery 🙂
Thank you for sharing this, Christine! I love your approach! It really does feel like a lot of stuff (even though it’s free) and it’s funny to think we have so much less than the standard nursery :). I’d be curious to hear what those items were that you discovered you couldn’t live without?
I belong to a Facebook online garage sale specifically for my county. I have to tell you the baby items that people are selling for almost next to nothing is pretty amazing. In 1990, we were expecting our first child and we bought a crib/mattress, high chair and other baby items for $100 and we were thrilled! We used those items for both of our sons. Way to go for hand-me downs!
On another note, I’m not sure if you’ve blogged about this, but how are you going to handle child care. I ask because I also live in a high cost of living state (two states south) and child care is extremely expensive.
That’s great you’ve got an online garage sale group–nice! And, sounds like you did an awesome job netting cheap baby stuff :). Regarding child care–did you read my mind ;)? Never fear, we’ll be discussing our plans here on the blog at some point. I will say, it is ridiculously expensive up here too. But, we knew those costs before conceiving, so its been part of our plan all along.
I am extremely curious about how you will handle childcare too. We also live in Cambridge and it’s tough to find affordable, decent full time childcare. We just bit the bullet and used an expensive, but awesome day care center, but were paying something like 50k/year for our two kids at one point. Ouch! Luckily we kept our other expenses were low anticipating some of this. Then the second big surprise is that after the kids start public school, you’re still spending 6-10k./year per kid on after school care and camp. So it doesn’t really go away completely when they hit school years. *Unless* one of you is a teacher, which would work out great and save loads of $$ on those last two things.
Yeah, childcare in cambridge is a major budget buster. It’s one of the reasons we want to leave town in the next few years.
I could not agree more- on all accounts!
I think it will be a major accomplishment if you can avoid entering into one of those gosh-forsaken, soul-sucking Babies R Us establishment for the duration of Babywoods childhood.
Thank you! Hahaha, I would LOVE to never enter a Babies R Us! So far, so good… 😉
Mrs Frugalwoods ,as well as her 2 older siblings, spent her early years sleeping in a crib handed down from my husband’s cousin. It was probably made in the ’50s and we reprinted it, used it for 3 babies until they grew too long for it, then returned it to be used for the cousin’s grandchildren. No one died. Love, Mama
So true, mom! Thanks for reading :). Love you!
You guys are doing great. I do wish I had known more about the ability to get free things from generous strangers, but most of our really expensive stuff was gifted to us – or I wouldn’t have bought it. BUT, I will cop to buying some things and spending lots of money because sometimes you just don’t know.
For example, my oldest daughter was born with a birth defect that made it impossible to nurse. And I was going to forgo pacifiers. Turned out, as part of her therapy she needed pacifiers. I think we spent a fortune on those things because we had to try various kinds to see what worked for her – and no, I’m not doing a used pacifier. She also ended up needed very expensive bottles ($30 a piece). So when baby number 2 came along, we ordered those same bottles. Didn’t need them and she wouldn’t use them. Or any bottle (I nursed at home, but of course she took bottles at daycare). So there I was asking friends for advice on bottle nipples and buying every suggestion because she *had* to take a bottle or just not have any milk for 10 hours a day.
I think what I’m saying is – I applaud you for being frugal. But I don’t want you to torture yourself by holding to a “buy nothing” philosophy when there are things you might want/need to buy in order to make life liveable. It’s not a crime and I daresay your readers might love you more for admitting you sent Mr. FW to a 24 hour store in search of xyz miracle product because you were at your wit’s end and just wanted some sleep !
I’m sure we’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy random, unexpected things over the course of parenthood :). Fear not, I’ll tell you guys all about it!
Don’t feel guilty if you have to buy a few things but hand me downs are great. I love garage sales for my kids clothes too & I’ve passed them down through my 3 boys.
I have a couple friends that if we need a clothing article we don’t have we just call each other & see what we have.
Hi We had exactly the same Bugaboo for our daughter now 13 years ago. At the time we lived in The Netherlands and my Mother-in-law bought it for us. Just before we bought it, it was used in Sex in the City and the royal family of The Netherlands were seen with one so demand exploded and we had to wait 3 months for it. Got it before the baby came so no biggie. I loved how lightweight it was and easy to fold up for the car. We only ended up having 1 child, so when the time came to let go of the idea of more we sold it on the Aussie version of Craigslist and got about 1/2 the value back.
Oh that’s too funny about the Bugaboo! I had no idea they were so popular! And, glad to hear that it worked well for you. Nicely done reselling it too!
It’s scary how deeply ingrained the habit/need to buy new is in our society (at least here in the US).
I always had hand me downs growing up. Always. My two younger brothers did, too. Some of my absolute favorite clothes were hand-me-downs. I actually just recently (within the last two years) got rid of a pair of sweatpants that were given to me in my late teens…held on to those for over 12 years!
Now that I’m in my mid-30s and trying to be a rational minimalist (or at least a conscious consumer), I tell everyone I don’t want gifts for holidays, birthday, special occasions. People balk. So I try to meet them halfway and say something along the lines of if you HAVE to get me something, please make it something used…often suggesting something they themselves maybe own and once valued but now have no use for. And the suggestion that a 35 year old wants to receive someone’s hand me down [fill in the blank: books, old LPs, gardening tool, charcoal weber grill, etc] often is received with even more incredulity and argument than suggesting that I don’t want anything at all. It’s a hard fight, but one worth making, I think. Kudos to you and the FW family for sticking to your guns!
Love your story about getting rid of hand-me-down sweatpants after 12 years! That’s awesome. We just realized the other day that Mr. FW is still wearing a pair of gym shorts that his dad originally handed down to him in high school. Hey, they still work!
Gift giving is tough, I’m with you. We’ve tried asking for no gifts, used gifts, gift cards to Costco/the grocery store, and none of that worked. What we’ve finally figured out works well is creating an Amazon wishlist of things we truly do need. We keep it updated throughout the year and it’s what we direct people to for Christmas and both of our birthdays. It has household things like shoes, pots and pans, cutting boards, and tools on it. Its been a great solution as our families appreciate knowing what we’ll actually use. And, we’re very grateful that they want to give us things :)!
Wow, this is seriously impressive. $20? I totally agree the baby industrial complex is totally out of control. I need to send your post to my friends who are having babies 🙂
Why thank you :)!
Been lurking and just wanted to say great post!! (Not married and don’t have kids…) My mom STILL brags about how she made out like a bandit at yard sales and used children’s stores in the early 80s. I have a friend on FB who just asked for used items for the soon to be nugget. No shame and I love it!
I have quite a few baby cousins and it’s cool how little they really need. Clean clothes, fresh diaper, full tummy. They’re all happy. Congrats!!
Many thanks! That’s awesome your mom was a frugal bandit with kids’ stuff :)! And, I love that your friend asked for used baby items–I think that’s a great way to go.
I’m a Bostonian too and I did the same thing. I actually had no idea other people were as set against the baby complex as I was– after being an avid freecycler/roadside find person and seeing THOUSANDS of dollars worth of things left out (here comes Allston Christmas!), I decided to do the free thing as well. I had my wonderful Tennessean mother put out the word too, and I soon found that I was able to stockpile just about everything I needed without spending a dime. I’m in a tiny JP apartment now, so we scrounged and found a mini crib for free on CL, free Johnny Jump ups and play gyms, as well as a bunch of clothing. We cloth diaper too, and that’s what most people got me. Oh, and we bought a snappi for when we needed to use flats. Tres dollars.
The added benefit (in our small place) is that we’re really not overflowing with anything. She’s got just enough, and it works for us.
Ps. We did have to buy a stroller base for our carseat (given to us by a family friend brand new– it was an extra they got at a shower and never returned!). It was 15 dollars on CL and we sold it for 20. Booya.
Awesome, Katherine! You’re rocking it! Allston Christmas is ridiculous–we actually drive around on Sept 1 to scan the trash piles. We’ve found some great things! I’m hoping we might score a little dresser for Babywoods this year…
So glad to hear you’ve had so much success with finding free/cheap stuff! Woohoo!
I guess we’re a bit more like that family that came home from the hospital without anything with our first kid, not based on frugality but on irrational fears that sometimes come with infertility… and then it turned out we didn’t need most of the stuff anyway, even things we thought we’d need (…like the crib I was planning on buying around 3 mos). I did buy a pump, but I guess people with health insurance don’t even need to do that anymore.
There really weren’t any last minute desperate Target runs… one just does without. We did get a subset of what you’re talking about as gifts and hand-me-downs. And we’ve been hand-me-downing now that DC2 is almost 3, and I understand why people just give baby stuff away. There’s so much of it!
That’s wonderful you were able to baby-raise so minimally! And, my insurance does indeed cover the purchase of a pump, which I think is fabulous. I like that you just did without if you didn’t have something–that’s how we live now, so it’s good to hear it can continue with baby :).
http://www.retire29.com/our-baby-has-made-us-money/ shows how babies aren’t so expensive…. but you do have to plan for post-highschool….
Love it! Yeah, her college is already being planned for 🙂
I love hand-me-downs: Giving and getting! I love consignment sales too, where I can unload outgrown stuff and get the things baby will grow into over the next year.
Such a great system! I love that there are so many ways to circumvent buying new for babies :).
When my daughter was born I was shocked at how little she actually needed to thrive and didn’t understand the “babies are expensive” mantra I kept hearing. They need food: home made pureed peas, carrots, apple sauce, so easy, cheap and healthy. A crib. Diapers (no getting around that one). Toys, a ball and cardboard box are on every kids wishlist. And lots of love and attention. There is my official baby “needs” list.
That’s a perfect “baby needs” list :). Love it!
They are awesome! Anything you buy new for a baby just get grungy soon enough anyway.
I’m not above buying new if there’s something I really want and can’t find used. For Little Brother, it was a rock n play sleeper. That thing is fantastic. Much safer than letting baby sleep in a swing or bouncer, but many babies sleep so much better sitting up. I used it instead of a bassinet in our bedroom when Little Brother was small. The friend I passed it on to was pretty delighted :-). I had two friends get pregnant right when I was scaling down. The first one was having a girl; she got all the gender-neutral durable goods. Second one was having a boy; she got all the baby clothes.
Car seats are frustrating because everyone says you have to buy them new, and then they expire after five years and have to be thrown away. I did have to buy mine new, as my nephew was still using his baby bucket when Big Brother came along. I did, however, use Nephew’s seat for Little Brother (it fit my stroller) and sold my other one. (Hey, I knew it wasn’t in an accident!) Then I passed along Nephew’s seat to a my friend (see above). So that’s at least five babies sharing two total seats–not bad!
Five babies sharing two car-seats sounds pretty good to me :). Good to know re. the rock-n-play sleeper!
My sister has a 13 month old and while she doesn’t live a truly frugal life, she said the baby hasn’t cost her nearly as much as others had led her to believe. Like you all the furniture was hand-me-down (although they did have to buy a new crib mattress). Other “major” purchases, like a stroller, were gifts. There biggest expenses were diapers and formula (as due to medical issues breast feeding was not an option). In Canada, people get mat-leave for a year, and my sister said she lived quite comfortably on her reduced income (and they were able to buy a house during it!)
That’s great your sister found it to be less expensive than expected! And, I’m pretty jealous of Canada’s year-long maternity leave. Wow! It doesn’t even come close to that here.
Wonderful post! I have an almost 1 yo (plus a 4.5yo) and I can’t believe all the *stuff* we have. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely wouldn’t get as much stuff. I’ve gotten some stuff hand me down or from consignment sales, but even though you can go a bit overboard because the stuff is so cheap. my kids don’t need as much stuff as they have. For my older child, I received some stuff for free from a coworker…one was a stroller. We already had a stroller, but I said “ehhh why not, we can always get rid of it and it didn’t cost us anything”. It was a red Bugaboo Frog or something and when we found out how much it cost (I think around $800 dollars), we said the same thing, “um…someone just GAVE this to us”. We don’t use it too much (it’s at my parents) but for being free, it was great! Good luck and you’re right about getting only a few of the necessities. And a lot of the stuff you don’t really use that long anyway, so spending ton of money on it can seem wasteful as well.
That’s awesome you got a free Bugaboo too :)! And, good to hear that it can all be done on the cheap :). I love hearing from you experienced frugal parents!
I don’t have kids, but know that annual/semiannual ‘tot swaps’ are a thing – it’s like a HUGE flea market/yard sale for all baby/kid things- maybe there’s one in your area?
Also, my city (Baltimore) has a big annual used book sale- I would think Boston would have one too- which could be a great place to find additional baby books 🙂
There are indeed some huge baby flea markets here–I have yet to scope one out, but I certainly might as the due date nears :). That’s awesome you have a huge used book sale there! How fun!
I’m all for buying used. I have used furniture and buy used clothing sometimes. But I want to urge you not to use used pacifiers and nipples on bottles. By the way, your blog is one of my very favorite PF blogs. : )
Thank you so much, Chris! That’s really kind of you to say 🙂
What a gorgeous skirt!
You’ve echoed many of the same thoughts we had during our pregnancy and though we had some lovely friends/family who offered to host a shower, I was quite adamant that it didn’t make sense. We didn’t need anything new (http://agaishanlife.com/2015/01/the-pants-free-unregistered-baby-non-shower/) and having people travel to give us gifts felt really unnecessary and weird. My favorite part of receiving the loads of hand me downs from friend clearing out their closets was being able to set aside frugal gifts for similarly minded friends and then donating great stuff to the local homeless shelter. I really hope that it helps some new parents who don’t have such generous and well to do friends.
I love that skirt from Cat! I’ve worn it twice already in the 2 weeks since she sent it to me :). So stretchy, so comfy! That’s awesome you’ve had luck with the hand-me-down train too. It’s so true that receiving all these things has really motivated me to clean out and give away more of our stuff. It’s just such a great cycle to be part of! And, I think that’s wonderful you’ve donated to the homeless shelter–it’s true that not everyone has a community of folks who can hand things down to them.
I LOVE this post, FW family! I’m not a mom yet but we are in the family planning stage here at our house, and this is the route we will take too. I have read great things about having a “recycled” baby shower–moms have reported getting more of what they need when they state on the invites that they want their guests’ hand-me-downs! None of my family are rich and I have already seen how they overspend on my only niece (her birthday was this past weekend–she received TWO Power Wheels cars. She is 2), so I definitely don’t want them going into debt in the name of my family. Great food for thought, and congratulations to your frugal family! Excited to hear more about Babywoods–keep the baby posts coming!
Oooo, I’m so excited that you’re in the baby planning stages :). That’s so fun! I wish you all the very best!
We actually ended up with too many of some things and either passed them on to others or sold them at a garage sale. You only need so many infant outfits before they are too small. I think people just like buying the cute little outfit for a baby shower. Giving hand-me-downs isn’t as glamarous, but is more effective most of the time.
I am glad you got a stroller than didn’t have plastic wheels. We shelled out for a nice one and it has been worth it. Originally a group at the office got us one (that we had picked), but it couldn’t handle the strain and broke after a week. We returned it and paid the difference to get one with metal spokes and inflatable tires. It performs much better!
Great to know re. stroller tires! This one seems to be pretty durable, so hopefully it’s stand the test of time for us.
What we got new: We used a boba wrap which was awesome if you’re looking for a wrap. Stretchier than Moby wrap. Cloth diapers. A stroller and car seat. In retrospect the stroller was terrible. We actually found a better one abandoned on the side of the road. Just needed a cleaning and some lubricant so it would fold. Otherwise received hand me downs from everywhere. I don’t recall if anyone mentioned burp cloths. We had a bunch of hand me down ones, and we really made use of them. Babies are messy creatures! Our little one just turned one. Longest and shortest year ever. Good luck with everything!
Good to know–thank you for sharing! We have received quite a few hand-me-down burp cloths, so that’s good to know they’ll go to good use :).
I wanted to raise my baby on minimum expenses for stupid things too 🙂 we used my old crib with a new mattress, a lot of hand me down clothes (he has hand me down clothes until 1st grade :D) and almost everything else. We bought a baby carrier instead of stroller. We used the cheapest brands of cloth nappies (because they were not popular here and there was none who could hand them down). During weaning, we tried baby led weaning, so he ate from our food.Unfortunately, the only thing we have to pay a lot for is a nanny, because we both have to work and the grandparents are still working too.
Congrats to you on raising your kiddo so frugally–that’s awesome! I love that you’ve been able to find so many used/inexpensive items! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂
I too bought next to nothing during my pregnancy – exception was for bras which I couldn’t find as hand-me-downs. 😉
And I didn’t listen to my body, especially my feet, during said pregnancy. My feet swelled as feet can sometimes do during this time. Please. If your feet do swell, don’t continue to squeeze them into your regular shoes as I did. I just finished foot surgery for a Morton’s Neuroma and am now in PT after a 6 week recovery. I too love to hike and walk my dog and will get to do so again but if I had just paid attention and changed shoes I wouldn’t have had to interrupt my life with this. All told, I went through 6+ months of non-invasive methods before I finally had the surgery.
Keep it frugal! (Surgery is not frugal!!)
I’m so sorry to hear about your feet :(. I hope you’re able to get back to hiking and walking again soon–I know those are both so soothing for me. And, I appreciate the advice–I will listen to my feet if they start to swell!
Good for you, Mrs. FW! We had a similar philosophy for our baby. We got almost everything gifted or handed down. We have a hand-me-down round robin going with some of our friends. Friend 1 handed down baby clothes to Friend 2, who passed them to me. I’m handing them back to Friend 1 sometime in the next few weeks, since her second is due this fall. None of us see any point in spending piles of money on outfits that the babies will grow out of in two months, and we’ll pass clothes, swings, and other stuff back and forth as long as it holds up or until we’re done having kids.
That’s a wonderful way to do it! I love the round robin concept–it’s something they do in the Buy Nothing group and I think it’s such a great idea. Congrats to you for raising your babe the frugal way :)!
Congrats on your pregnancy and withstanding the nudges (pushes?) others give you to consume more products “for your baby.” My husband and I like to joke that we “survived” to adulthood, so most of these items are a waste of money. Once people know you like hand-me-downs you will have more than you know what to do with. Have you discussed everything with you health insurance? I was happy to discover my insurer provided a breast pump and shipped new milk storage bags every 90 days. And, they send a new pump every YEAR since the motors aren’t designed to last longer than that. Make sure you find out all the potential perks – the pump alone saved me $350. Are you planning to return to work after a maternity leave, or quit? If you are going back and your employer offers hospital grade pumps, make sure you get a “lesson” before you leave the hospital because they will give you all the parts you need to buy otherwise. We also use a flexible spending account for daycare that saves us about $1200 in taxes each year. Don’t miss the deadlines! Most have a 60 day limit after a QLE. I’m sure you’ve got it all covered… you’ll never have more free time to figure out ways to save than now – before your baby is born 🙂 Congrats again!
We make the joke about surviving into adulthood too :). We babies in the ’80s didn’t have quite so many gadgets! I’m so thrilled that my insurance pays for my breast pump too–it’s such a wonderful benefit. And, you’re so right about figuring out all the nuances of insurance, etc before baby is born. We’ve got a whole spreadsheet going on right now! It’s amazing how many elements there are to maternity leave, FMLA, insurance, etc. Very grateful to have the time and the good fortune to figure it all out in advance! I think it’s a good thing we get 9 whole months to plan ;).
There are only 3 things that I can think of that I wouldnt want as a hand me down ; that is toothbrush, underware and my sleep pillow. Congratulations and continued success on providing frugally for baby.
Good call on those three things–I’m with you :)!
FWIW, we hardly ever used a stroller for our kids. They were either in a snugli close to our bodies or toddling along, hand in hand near roadways or cliffs.
Good to know! We were lucky enough to receive a baby wrap as a hand-me-down from my sister and a baby carrier hand-me-down from a friend, so we can test out our different options for baby toting :).
BTW, have you started collecting cloth diapers yet? It is a messy business rinsing diapers in the toilet & then washing them all, but it does save money. You also have a 1st hand look at your baby’s output, which may give you more info on their health & digestion. And you help the planet.
I found the best diapers were the thin big ones you fold over several times, not the thick ones. They come cleaner & are more airy for wet bums. When the baby’s done with them, they make excellent lint-free wiping cloths.
Thanks for the tip!
I do not have any children, but I have about 8 friends/cousins that had babies in the last 2 years, and I have been to about that many baby showers. I am constantly appalled at how much people spend on baby stuff! I can’t shop for ridiculously-priced baby items anymore, so I just send a $50 gift card for Amazon now for everyone. Hopefully the parents can find something useful to buy with it!
The best thing I news I read this week is that THE FRUGALWOODS will be toting their hand-me-down clothed baby in a fancy high-end name-brand stroller! I would have never imagined a $1149 basket on wheels! That is awesome, ridiculous, funny, & amazing all the same time!
I have a question – with all the items you accept from people, do you ever get overwhelmed by the stuff in your house that you are storing? Or are you really diligent about giving away “extra” stuff? I know you are not a minimalist, but I know you also love free things (and who doesn’t?). I find myself with more stuff that I can handle, but the frugal girl in me has trouble letting go.
I think an Amazon gift card is universally appreciated :)! Good question about the deluge of baby stuff. I’ve actually been pruning our other belongings so that we don’t feel too overwhelmed. We just took an absolute mountain of old clothes to Goodwill and I’ve been giving away household stuff on the Buy Nothing Project a lot lately. I’m trying to keep our overall stuff to about the same level so that we don’t get inundated with Babywoods gear :). Fortunately, our house is furnished pretty minimally, so we have plenty of open/blank space where baby gear can go. I also plan to give away any baby items that we don’t end up using–no sense in keeping them around!
When we had our baby 6 years ago, we bought way too much stuff new and put too much pressure on the “don’t kill the baby” mindset. Shortly after having the baby, we entered the super frugal stage where I couponed, got everything dirt cheap or free and changed our lifestyle so that I could stay home with my little man. Sadly, we wasted a lot of money on baby stuff but there is a great market in reselling the stuff so I just sold a bunch of things through facebook groups and garage sales and made at least $1000-$2000 on a variety of stuff around the house before moving. Of course, we spent way more then that one the stuff originally but at least entering the frugal phase brought some of the money back into our bank account and helped other families start on the frugal life. Glad to hear that you are entering it with clearer heads and I hope that you have a wonderful journey because there are tons of frugal things to do with kids!!
That’s great you were able to re-sell your baby stuff! It’s always so nice to be able to recoup some of the costs. Nicely done! And, I love hearing that there are plenty of frugal things to do with kids :)!
I find it interesting how we evolved over hundreds of thousands of years procreating and all of a sudden, we now ‘need’ so much stuff to raise a child! Granted, in the modern world, we do need things like diapers, car seats and cribs, but like you said, much of the other stuff like diaper genies are just a response to our want of convenience or lack or imagination to make something ourselves. Good for you for not giving into the complex! P.S. I love the whole Buy Nothing Project objectives.
Also, you might be interested in Katy Bowman, a Biomechanist. I just read her book “Move Your DNA”. She mentions that modern babies take much longer to learn to walk than babies from modern day hunter-gather-er tribes. It is mostly because we put babies in these unnatural contraptions and positions. Anyway, I found it interesting. You should check out her website at katysays.com, as she talks a lot about children and health. She is super smart and super funny also!
You make a great point! I recently read a book that talked about how much happier babies are in simpler societies where they’re held frequently. It’s a thought-provoking topic. Thank you for the reading recommendation–I’ll have to check her out.
We have an 8 month old and we hardly bought anything(reusable diapers, and, um…that’s all). I think this kid was born with three onesies. I don’t get the concept of a nursery at all. He sleeps in our guest bedroom but, mostly in our bed. I think one thing to remember is that people don’t need to be prepared as they think. There are stores every where. People also give you more things if you don’t buy them. Also, our son’s favorite toy is the recycling.
Love it! Kudos to you for doing it the minimal, frugal way. That’s awesome :)!
I have some amazingly generous friends and family who showered us with hand-me-downs! It isn’t that we needed them – more like we WANTED them.
Since you don’t mind used stuff, check out library book sales for kiddy books. I got tons of great titles for 50 cents each, and many were in great condition. Stock up on board books for your little one to chomp on 🙂
Oooooo thank you for the suggestion on books! We definitely want Babywoods to become as avid a reader as we are. Books are such an important part of fostering that early zest for learning :).
Reminds me of the freeourkids.co.uk blog. Good on you for not succumbing to consumerism. I try to do the same, and have passed on almost all my unused baby items to family and friends. I did buy most of them new, but I didn’t know many parents before I had a child, so I didn’t have much of a hand-me-down network. My favourite kids things are usually the ones my MiL gets from op-shops in her travels.
Thanks! We’re certainly figuring it out as we go, and are by no means experts, but hand me downs seem great so far!
I have not read all 151 comments, and I think this is my first time commenting here (long-time reader, though), but I would caution you to buy new when it comes to a car seat. Buy used for anything else, but I would not take a chance on a carseat that is supposed to keep your baby safe as your car is cruising down a highway at 65 mph. Many people are not aware of the fact that carseats do expire. Plastics & fabrics break down over time. Not only that, but there is a constant stream of testing and research that is taking place with regard to carseat safety, and many that are past their expiration date will not reflect the latest science, even if they have never been in an accident. If you feel that you *must* buy used, then I suggest a baby resale store that is legally required to sell unexpired and un-recalled equipment.
Yep, we’re either getting a carseat from a dear friend who’s child recently outgrew it (so we know it’s relatively new and certainly accident free) or we’ll buy one. No sense in messing with safety.
Hi, I just found your blog so perhaps you address this elsewhere, but how are you finding frugal childcare? My husband and I had our daughter (born at home ) in a tiny, third floor walk-up apartment in Cambridge. We saved a lot of money by relying on hand-me-downs, and cloth diapers, but the cost of child care in Metro-Boston was crippling and ate a shocking percentage of our monthly income. We were fortunate in that we had flexible jobs that allowed us to adjust our hours so that one of us was home with our daughter for her first two years of life, but that flexibility came at the cost of reduced compensation. We participated in a nanny share for one year and then enrolled our daughter in center-based child care but both of those options were still really expensive. Have you found a child care option that won’t break the bank?
We haven’t found good, affordable childcare. It’s one of the (though certainly not the only) reasons we’re having our first child in our 30s. We’re still investigating… but all of the options are expensive. It’s a major component of the Cost of Living here in the city. I do know one friend who specifically changed jobs so that her child could go to subsidized daycare at one of the biotech companies in Kendall, but our skillsets don’t really match what those employers are looking for. Definitely not an option for most people in any case!
About 15 years ago we lived near some of our extended family in a wealthy neighborhood that had tons of yard sales with piles and piles of baby clothes. Most of the clothes were practically new, some even had tags still on them. I don’t have kids, but even I know how it goes, baby announced, everyone goes and buys new baby stuff as gifts, and baby barely ever gets to wear even a portion of the loot. Then baby clothes sold for a song at yard sale. I offered an expecting relative to buy up scads of clothes at these sales–I could have laddered sizes up for baby’s first few YEARS. Would have cost me barely a thing. Relative sniffed at me and said, “my child will never wear used clothes.” So, they got from us one small basket of new toiletries/baby gear. I still, after all these years, think of the mountain of clothes and supplies they could have had. It still makes me sad. Oh well, you’re doing it right. The only new peeps are the real weirdos.
You’re so right about the availability of barely used baby clothes and goods! It’s astounding! There’s really no need to buy new–especially for things like clothes. Just not worth it. That’s too bad your relative turned down your very generous and kind offer! Rest assured, if we were related, I would’ve gladly accepted ;).
I think what you guys are doing is amazing and inspiring. But let me ask you this – what would you change if you knew that in 5 years from now your net worth will be, let’s say, 3M? What is the first thing you would buy for your family (outside of paying off the mortage or buying a bigger house or or creating a uber college fund for your bebe)?
Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. I honestly think we wouldn’t change a thing other than moving to our homestead perhaps sooner than 2 years from now. We’d probably just invest the money and purchase a few more rental properties. But as for buying stuff? Not really our bag. But it’s always a fun thought exercise :).
You should check out the Cambridge clothing exchange for kids clothing. The hours are limited but it’s free.
Good to know! Thank you for the tip 🙂
I love what you’re doing Frugalwoods. We’ve been doing similar in the UK. Our boy is nearly four now, and the only things we’ve invested in new are as follows:- A toddler car seat, 3 baby grows, a pair of trousers, a pair of shoes and a wedding outfit.
All other baby/toddler expenses came to less than £150, thanks to the generosity of parents rushing to get rid of things. We have 4 slings/carriers, a pram/stroller, and clothes galore.
We’re expecting again at xmas and are hoping to replicate our success first time round at securing baby items. We didn’t save our first lot, and passed them on to others.
One BIG area of saving that we can do with our babies is breastfeeding. Once you’ve got through the first couple of weeks you get into your own rhythm. I found that I didn’t have to sterilise bottles or even buy any. I never needed to buy milk powders, as you’ve got it on supply for free. You can feed at any time, and anywhere. learning to nurse whilst wearing your baby in a sling, means you can shop, walk, cook and clean whilst feeding your precious and not spending a penny. There’s a huge premium on baby milk and foods. When our son was ready to eat, he just began eating what we ate.
Co-sleeping is another way we have maintained our close and happy bond whilst not needing to fork out for meaningless accessories. I lived in Indonesia prior to meeting my husband, and watched how these families formed. They are so close to each other, but it’s because they have such implicit trust in each other’s physicality. Sleeping together is easy and a joy. A child can let you know when they’re ready to move onto their own bed.
If we weren’t in bed sleeping as a family, he would be sleeping on one of us in a sling. Life doesn’t get much easier than wearing your baby.
I completely applaud you in your approach and hope that as you bring your daughter into this world, that the 3 of your lives blossom with deep joy and love.
With love from the UK
That’s fantastic you’ve spent so little on baby things! I’m really looking forward to breastfeeding–fingers crossed she latches well and that we can get off to a good start with it. Many congrats to you on expecting baby #2! And, thank you for all of the advice–it’s most appreciated :).
You’re very welcome! About a week before I gave birth I began drinking a little Raspberry leaf tea and nettle tea. I also infused some water with Raspberry Leaf, Nettle, Fenugreek seeds and Fennel seeds, in preparation for just after labour. These four herbs help to bring on a rich milk supply. I picked up small bags of each herb from a local health food store for very little money and kept them mixed in a jar at home. Every day I would put a teaspoon of the mix in a pot with hot water, and then drink a small cup of it cold every time I nursed. I kept this up for about 2 months, and then started again, if I worried that my supply was dwindling. You know when it gets in to your system because you perspire with a maple syrup / curry kind of smell (from the Fenugreek).
I should point out that I’m not a doctor, and can’t say for sure if these helped or whether I needed them or not, but I’m still nursing my son now 3.5 years later with no real problem. I will probably do this again when I give birth to baby 2, but that might be because I’m too superstitious not to.
I’m sure you’ll have no problem with nursing that you can’t resolve and am really sure you know enough people nearby to help share their positive experiences with. It can be a lonely experience without help and encouragement because boobs are sexualised so much. In the UK it’s illegal to discriminate against a nursing mother, but it doesn’t stop some people. I got kicked out of a cafe when my babe was 3 months old. It was heartbreaking. Thankfully I knew enough kind people who kept me positive. If ever you need a nursing boost, please feel free to message me as I’d be happy to cheerlead you on. All the best for the 3 of you xxxxxxx
Thank you so much for the tips, Louisa! I’d heard of Fenugreek helping with supply and had planned to get some in advance of delivery. I’ll check out the other herbs too. Appreciate it :)!
If you practice “EC” or elimination communication you won’t even need the diapers 😉 We didn’t go that route because we didn’t know of it for baby one but it will certainly be on my mind if we have a second baby. Cloth diapers are amazing! There certainly are plenty of ways to find them cheap or free too.
I second the raspberry leaf tea, it was recommended by my midwife and I still drink it occasionally now (baby is 18 months). Nursing can be beautiful and so hard. I hope you have an easy time of it! Ina May Gaskins books on pregnancy and breastfeeding were eye opening for me. If you do have a problem, a IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant) is well worth the investment in a formula free future (read: expensive, not saying there is anything wrong with it). If you do have any problems there are many women willing to donate the love of pumped breast milk through websites like Human Milk for Human Babies (which has a Facebook for your area most likely). When we had problems due to oral motor issues donated milk saved us, we had no money to spend on formula, and we really appreciated the time, effort and love, that went into another mother sharing her babies milk.
A friend was telling me about EC! I need to read more about it. Hey, anything to reduce diapers, right :)?! I’m definitely planning on seeing a lactation consultant after giving birth–fortunately our insurance will cover a visit to one. And, that’s wonderful you were able to receive donated breast milk! What a wonderful gift :).
Are you planning on using cloth diapers?
Great question! We’re still exploring our options 🙂
Aw I don’t know how I missed this post but I am SO EXCITED for you! I love all the baby gear! So much fun and such a great score on the stroller!!
Thank you!!! And thank you for the awesome hand-me-downs! I just put the little headbands into Babywoods’ dresser yesterday :). So cute!
Have I got some baby hacks for you:
-Cloth diapers are great. I bought mine new, but you certainly don’t have to.
-Mr. Cheapheart’s old undershirts cut up, seams removed, made great wipes.
-Disposable wipes can be laundered and reused (some brands better that others, generic supermarket brands work well) a big reason never to flush them!
-Wipe solution: 2 cups boiled or distilled water, 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp liquid soap
-Disposable wipes also make great cloth diaper liners. You can just peel the poo away, swish it around in the toilet and launder. A word of warning about diaper sprayers–they are prone to bursting or leaking, not frugal! My brother had damage to both of his bathrooms due to one.
-I never bought any sippy cups or the like. Little Cheapheart drank from small glasses and ate from ceramic ramekins from the start. He has broken three things in two and a half years. His record is better than mine.
-Baby food is super expensive. Just take your food and mash it up. It will develop their palate as well.
-Any soap or lotion marked “baby” is just another excuse to charge more. Just use mild products. Truth be told they don’t need to be bathed that often.
-Ikea’a Antelop high chair is pretty good. Cheap and light and the legs come off for easy transport. Mr. Cheapheart bought one on sale for $10 and we left it at our in law’s, very handy.
-Tripp-Trapp chairs are spendy, but their longevity makes them worth it. I’m sure you could find one on Craigslist. They are great for teaching baby to be at the table with you.
-Don’t bother with a “changing table” just put a changing pad on top of a dresser. Little Cheapheart’s changing table is Mr. Cheapheart’s ex-girlfriend’s dresser.
-A Children’s Museum membership is so great for our long, miserable winters here in Boston. You could be extra frugal and get a pass from the library, but kids do put a fine point on the time vs. money equation.
Great blog, I have really enjoyed reading it.
Thank you so much for the tips :)! Most appreciated! Sounds like you’ve got frugal baby-raising down to a science! My sister has the Tripp-Trapp chairs for her kiddos and I really like them. I’ve been hoping we’ll find a free/cheap one somewhere!
Most people definitely spend thousands in wants upon hearing the news of a baby. It’s one heck of any industry. Have you ever checked out J$’s baby budget tracker? It’s pretty interesting!
Thank you for the tip on J$’s baby tracker–somehow I’d never seen it before. But you’re right, it’s awesome!
This is definitely inspiration for if/when I have a baby.
Thanks! Bookmarked for future use ;)?
Great post! I am a pretty new reader but I was curious if you have any tips on frugal wedding planning? Where were you guys able to save the most costs at your wedding?
Thanks so much! Good question on the wedding–unfortunately I don’t think I really have any epic hacks to share. I should mull it over though and maybe come up with a post someday :).
Seasoned mother – http://petapixel.com/2015/09/04/a-pregnancy-time-lapse-through-the-seasons/
Good idea! Wish I’d thought of doing that 🙂
Also, regarding high chairs for the table, There is a portable alternative which locks, by gravity or clamps to the table. No legs in the way, easy to store or travel with. EG https://philandteds.com/us/Buy/feed/table-time-high-chair
Funny enough, we just received a hand-me-down phil & ted’s table chair! I love that it just clamps right onto the table 🙂
I have a question – I would assume that you are going to breastfeed? are you planning on continuing to work afterwards? My question is about pumping and storing breast milk – specifically storing. The bags that you have to buy are so expensive – I was trying to see if you had addressed this before. I am pregnant with my second son and not really wanting to spend the money on the bags – but freezing in little bottles is also expensive and takes up a lot of space – thoughts?
All good questions and I fear I’m not qualified to answer them having never stored breastmilk before. I’ve heard from other readers that the bags are worth the expense since they stack well in the freezer. I actually have a ton of little medela bottles that I received for free and so my plan is to freeze milk in those, but I’ll have to see how that goes since, as you note, they take up a lot of space. My sister froze milk in ice cube trays and then put the cubes into ziploc bags, so that might be a cheaper option. Good luck to you and many congrats on your pregnancy :)!
This is the most inspiring post ever! My husband and I have been on a debt-eliminating adventure since January. I found out I was pregnant in July, right around the time I discovered your blog. I think about this post all the time, and have been the recent recipient of bags and bags of used baby and maternity clothes. You’re right, the glee and satisfaction from hand-me-downs far exceeds the temporary excitement of a brand-new purchase, and without any of the buyer’s remorse to boot! If I hadn’t discovered this blog, I know I would be much quicker to buy new things for baby, even with the tight budget we’ve been observing this year. So thank you! And I would be super excited to read about any other maternity/baby scores you’ve been making lately, or other frugal baby wisdom. Congrats to you and Mr. FW!
That’s awesome, Katie! I’m so excited for you!! Many congrats on your pregnancy and on your frugal debt-elimination journey. It really is wonderful to receive used items for baby and, totally possible to spend very little in preparing for their arrival. I wish you all the very best :)!
Do you plan to help Babywoods pay for college? If so, how do you plan to do so? How will Babywoods have good educational opportunities while living in the woods? I understand that you have a plan for both of you worked out, but you’re about to be a trio! (When I worry about baby costs, my worries surround the cost of living in a good school district and paying for college – not the cost of diapers or the crib.)
We do indeed plan to help her pay for college and will be saving accordingly. Having the resources to help her pay for school is another awesome benefit of frugality. And, the public schools in the area where we’re planning to buy our homestead are quite good. We’ve done a great deal of research into those school districts and been pleased with what we’ve found. We’ll be living in an area that’s rural, but not remote. Also, since we’ll both be stay-at-home parents, we’ll have ample time to provide supplementary learning and educational experiences for Babywoods in whatever topics she’s interested in. Another advantage about the region we’ll be living in is that it’s a short distance to both Boston and NYC–we’ll be taking her there periodically to experience the art, culture, and vibe of the big city :).
Thank you so much for your post. Hand me downs are not only great in the baby area, but obviously in every area of life. My entire apartment is also furnished in hand me downs and a few thrift store finds as well. 🙂
I wanted to thank you for posting about thank you notes. There is something about a nice thank you note that makes others happy to have given their gift (even if its advantageous for them to give), and makes known that you appreciate them. As an avid knitter who cannot keep everything she makes, I often take gifts of yarn and repay others in kind with knitted items. Dear friends who have loved and supported me through difficult times have received shawls, scarves, mittens, etc. Good manners, it turns out, are priceless, and actually quite frugal. 😉
I just wanted to share I’m so glad you are out there 🙂 I am 28 weeks pregnant now and I am so overwhelmed by the number of things I “must have” and by all the mothers-to-be who believe that the reason to have kids is to buy stuff for them. I actually read once on one of facebook groups that it is offending to even suggest giving used items to new mothers and “why would anyone want children if they just want to cheap out on them”. And all I think is “hey, the baby will wear this outfit for maybe two weeks, why is it so noble to overspend on it?” Isn’t it better to provide your child with their first apartment someday or have extra money for some “cool” stuff when the child actually cares? And when I feel totally lost and cheap and an outcast – I think of you, Dear Frugalwoods 🙂 And then I remember why I am like that and what is important to me. Thank you 🙂
I went back to read this post again because I enjoyed it so much the first time and I love the reminders. We have a little one and have relied primarily on hand me downs and occasional gifts. Because we like to keep a relatively clear space, we store future use items in a closet and as soon as she outgrows something, we gift it to someone else. It’s been working beautifully and it amazes me how little we have had to spend. The one item we did purchase (in anxious anticipation) was a bassinet and then we were gifted a used one a few weeks before she was born (if only I had waited…). We chose to use one upstairs and one downstairs for naps but could’ve done just fine with one. I’ve noticed that this baby industrial complex applies to toys as well. I decided against purchasing toys and noticed that our little one does just fine with the few she has and creative ones we come up with each day. I’ve found that she likes to take on a new “scepter” each day and favors household items like wooden spoons, hair brushes, and cardboard boxes. Yesterday’s toy? A few spoons of rice in an empty water bottle. She couldn’t get enough of her new “maraca”. I read stuff like this to remind myself that we’re headed in the right direction.
SO true!!! My two-year-old LOVES empty cardboard boxes. Loves them :).
Hi Elizabeth! Needless to say, we owe you a big thanks for all you’ve done in educating the world about the Buy Nothing Project. My co-founder, Rebecca Rockefeller, and I would love to send you a copy of our upcoming book, The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan, in hopes you might let folks know about it if you read it and find it useful. We love that you also likely had the challenge of explaining to your followers the paradox of asking them to buy your book to help them live a frugal life. Now, imagine a book with “Buy Nothing” in the title! If we’re ever in your neck of the woods to talk about our book, we’d love to meet up in person to talk about all that we have in common. In the meantime, if you’d like a copy of the book, please send me your mailing address and we’ll ask Simon & Schuster to get a copy out to you. (I’m sending you a link to our book website, which is undergoing a DNS rerouting at the moment so it’ll be ready in 24 hours and not just a picture of the book!)
Looking forward to hearing from you!