Preparing for Baby: Buy New, Buy Used, or Borrow

Buy New

There are some items for baby new parents want to buy.  For some things, it’s not practical to borrow an item for an extended period, and for other baby needs, we wanted to know exactly where the item has been before it was in our hands.  So, here are some purchases we made new, rather than borrowing or buying used.

  1. Car Seats — For safety reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents buy new car seats for their young children.  When car seats have been previously used, there’s a chance they may have been damaged in a prior crash or stored in an unsuitable environment before being passed on.  We were lucky to have a few car seat coupons to Target, thanks to their used car seat return program (occasionally throughout the year, Target will collect used car seats and provide a 20% off coupon to go toward a new car seat purchase) and some used car seats my sister was able to turn in.  So, before Louise was born, we bought the infant travel system (mentioned in the borrow section) as well as two 4-in-1 conversion car seats for when she outgrows the infant carrier.  
  2. Furniture — We hope we’re fortunate enough to have a few children.  So, we decided to invest (aka splurge) on her nursery room furniture, keeping in mind that we would plan to use the same furniture for all three kids.  The dresser and nightstand are not obviously baby furniture (once you remove the changing table topper!) and the bed converts to a twin or full size bed as the youngest child outgrows the crib.  We chose the Pottery Barn Kids Larkin set and have continued to love it in Lou’s nursery for its look, durability, and safety.
  3. Teethers & Infant Baby Toys — This wasn’t something I proactively considered when we were preparing for Louise’s arrive, but having seen how often these toys go in her mouth (every chance she gets), I feel great about getting these items new as gifts at my baby shower or buying new myself.  A few of our baby’s favorite toys are the Oball, Sophie La Giraffe, and what we affectionately refer to as Crunchy Taco.  The Oball has cutouts all around it to make it an easy first toy for her to hold in her fingers.  As with many babies, she loves to chew on Sophie, from her ears to her toes.  And Crunchy Taco is a close-to-life size plush taco toy with a crinkle sheet inside, silicone ‘tomato slices’ and ribbon loops of ‘cheese’ peeking out of the top.  

Buy Used

Friends, neighbors, colleagues, and relatives are only often only too happy to share the baby items their children have outgrown. Letting someone buy it for a fraction of the cost they originally paid is often a win-win-win for you, the friend, and the environment. Baby and children-focused used consignment stores and events are also a great place to find fantastic deals, particularly for that item you won’t use for long or aren’t sure you want to invest a lot into.

  1. Clothes — If you can’t borrow used clothes from friends (or relatives or colleagues or neighbors) or if you need a few extra items, second-hand shops are a great place to get bargain deals on young baby clothes.  Infants change clothing size every 2-4 months in their first year of life, and although our baby went through several onesies a day for a period that was often because of diaper blowouts in the back and massive spit ups soaking the front.  So, our daughter primarily wearing outfits that we got used and didn’t have a strong attachment to during this phase were really great.  On a couple of occasions, the blowout was so bad it rendered the onesie disposable.  So having bought a few items used worked out great.  Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t resist the occasional brand new cute baby outfit either, but primarily used (or borrowed outfits) were a major money-savings
  2. Swing — Our baby swing was a lifesaver for Louise… but only for a couple months while we were all figuring out how to maximize her sleep.  At a couple months old, she settled into more of a routine, waking around 7 or 8, taking three ‘real’ naps throughout the day, and then taking another short evening nap to help her get to bedtime.  Of course, she still woke several times overnight to eat, but we were very fortunate that she easily would go back to sleep after being sated.  For that fourth evening nap, the swing was the solution.  It was early enough in the day that she wouldn’t go to bed in her crib, but she desperately wanted the sleep.  So we set the baby swing up so she could doze for half an hour in our sight while we cooked our own dinner.  While a lifesaver, we only needed it for a couple months until she dropped that short evening nap.  So having bought used from a colleague (after double checking it hadn’t had any recalls!) was a great value for this short term usage. 
  3. Jogging Stroller — For Christmas, my sister bought us a jogging stroller. She’d actually bought it months before at a semi-annual consignment event where she’d made the great find. It’s not something we’re certain we’ll use every day, but having the jogging stroller definitely makes me and James much more likely to try to go jogging at all while also taking care of Louise. With all used items, be sure to check for recalls. And, for a jogging stroller, be sure to also grab a tire pump!
  4. Infant Tub — We use the Fisher Price 4-in-1 Sling ’n Seat tub.  We originally bought it new, but we would have saved $10-20 if we got it at the used store.  The mesh fabric sling used for newborns can be easily washed and the rest is plastic.  If buying used, make sure it comes with each of the different attachments to use as your infant grows.


When we got pregnant with our daughter, I immediately started (to be honest, I’d already started) researching all of the things we would need to have for her.  I wanted to make sure we had everything ready to go for the day came that we brought her home from the hospital.  Our daughter is (and we are) fortunate enough to have a girl cousin almost exactly two years older than Louise, though we currently live about 500 miles apart.  When my sisters were planning their visit to our neck of the woods for my baby shower, we did a virtual tour of my niece’s belongings that she’d outgrown and they threw them all in the car to bring up north.  As a result of the cousins ages and season of birth, we’ve been able to borrow so many items that we’d otherwise have spent a ton of money on or go without the convenience of.  I want to share with you the items that my sister and I now plan to pass back and forth if we are fortunate enough to have more babies, so save our pennies for the really important stuff.  Borrow as much as you can!  Just be sure you keep track of who loaned you what, so you can return items just as easily as they were loaned.

  1. Clothes — I’d read all the blogs that warned me to not buy too many clothing items for any particular size.  They were right.  Louise outgrew so many ‘special outfits’ before she even had a chance to wear them.  I look forward to passing gifts our daughter received down to future kids and cousins who will hopefully get some use out of them!  We bought or received as gifts a handful of onesies and a couple sleepers in each size over Louise’s first year, but the real savior was the huge tubs of clothes my sister drove up to our house that Louise’s cousin wore.  A couple items they brought aren’t going to make it back for Louise’s next cousin to wear, but they’ve been replaced by a handful of new items we couldn’t help ourselves with or received as gifts.  James and I are quite a bit taller than my sister and brother-in-law, and as a result, we think Louise will be much taller then her cousin, so she can’t ride the hand-me-down train forever, but I’m hoping she’ll make it to at least 5T before we really have to invest in her own wardrobe.
  2. Infant Carrier Lightweight Stroller — We bought a stroller set, the Chicco Bravo Travel System; it came with a full size stroller, an infant carrier that popped onto the top, and a car seat base, and I thought that was all we’d need.  My sister suggested we borrow their Chicco KeyFit Caddy Frame Stroller.  I thought “Why would we need that?  We have a stroller!”  As it turns out, that stroller was, by far, much more convenient than the full sized stroller for the short outings Louise and I did in the first six months of her life.  Because it isn’t trying to be a multipurpose stroller, there’s a ton of space under where the infant carrier pops on.  With a hook attached to the handle and my reusable bags, we were able to grocery shop for the week in one trip, with no cart, just the stroller.  Louise would ride in the carrier on top, and I would load groceries into the reusable totes throughout the store, tucking two full bags into the storage bin underneath before filling two more hanging on the hook.  After checkout, load them back onto the stroller and make our way to the car.  NOTE: always be careful putting heavier items into bags hanging on the book.  They can cause your stroller to tip backwards if imbalanced with what’s underneath.  Tuck that gallon of milk directly into the storage bin!

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