Have I mentioned before that my mom is the Queen of Garage Sales? I think I have. If I call her on a weekend and ask what she's up to, 90% of the time she says, "Oh nothing much. I'm just out garage saling." I'll get a phone call from her every couple weeks, and the first thing she says is, "I have a bag of clothes for Everett. I was garage saling the other day..."
As much as we try to avoid it, we will always carry a part of our parents with us. This fact has manifested itself in my need to bargain. And since having a baby is expensive, here a few of my suggestions for corners you can cut, as well as corners you maybe shouldn't cut, when raising a little one.
Sooo...old or new? Of course, these are my personal preference, and some people have a higher tolerance for grossness than me.
New/Gently Used - Bottles get a lot of one-on-one time with Baby's mouth. I would opt for something new, even if you plan on boiling the parts before use. That being said, if your sister gives you her old bottles she barely ever used, I say take em. Investment: $15.52 for 3 new bottles. We have never needed more than this many bottles.
New/Gently Used - Same logic as the bottles. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable using another baby's pacifier. That being said, one time Everett borrowed his friend's old pacifier, but it had clearly been sanitized, and we knew it was never infected with serious germs. Investment: $2.99 for 2 pacifiers.
$14.99 for a brand new pack of 10 Gerber cloths.
New - As a child who grew up loving my "blankie," I think every baby deserves a new blanket. From the parent perspective, I enjoy seeing a beloved object wear over time. Make the investment to knit/sew/buy your baby a special comfort object. Investment: cost of materials or $22.00 - $49.95 for a pack of new blankets.
Old - We found our crib at a garage sale (gasp), and personalized it with a coat of paint. Investment: brand new crib can cost anywhere between $100.00 and $800.00. We paid $30.00.
New/Gently Used - Would you sleep on a mattress if you didn't know where it's been? I wouldn't. Unless I knew exactly who had used the mattress and how many times it had been soiled, I would opt for a new one, or get a gently used one from someone you know and trust. Investment: a new mattress will be around $110.00. These often go on sale at Babies R Us, so I suggest purchasing during one of these sale periods. Also, don't just get the cheapest one you can find. If you can afford a little more, opt for a higher quality mattress. The kid will be sleeping on it for years.
Old - If you are lucky enough to have the space for a changing table and dresser, I envy you. We simply use Everett's dresser as his changing table. This saves us on space, money, and the appearance of organization (with changing tables you can see all the diaper accessories, but with the dresser it is at least hidden in drawers). That being said, if you can find a used dresser and spruce it up with some paint, you can save your family a lot of money. Investment: expect to pay around $25.00 for used at a garage sale, and up to $300.00 for this brand new Ikea dresser.
Old - I think every family needs one of each of these products. I use both on a regular basis. Since the covers are washable, it does not bother me that mine are used. Investment: you can drop up to $50.00 each for the brand new options, or you can buy used like I did for $10.00 to $15.00 each at a secondhand store.
Old - All parts on these accessories can either be washed or sanitized. Everett got bored in a play station after 15 minutes, so we had to switch him between his vibrating chair, the swing, and play mat frequently to keep him stimulated. Investment: each of these toys are at least $50.00 new, but with a combination of garage saling and borrowing from friends, we have spent a total of $5.00 (that's five dollars, not a typo).
New/Gently Used - We have a garage sale high chair, and I kind of hate it. For one, the seat is made of fabric. Even though you can wash this, it gets incredibly dirty incredibly fast. In addition, the fabric is machine washable, but the straps are not. It took a ton a bleach, a toothbrush, and a toothpick to get those suckers clean, and I still want to vomit every time Everett tries to put the straps and clips into his mouth - as babies will do. So here's my advice: get a high chair that is vinyl or wood; if you know the product is coming from a clean house, go ahead and get one used. Otherwise, I say take the plunge and buy new. Investment: from about $60.00 new.
Pack N Play?
New/Gently Used - This is the kind of item you will use a lot. We have a new one that we use to cart to friend's houses for Bachelor nights, and Grandma has a gently used one at her house for babysitting time. The one we own is on the cheaper side, but you can get really fancy ones that come with a changing table and the whole sha-bang. If you are ever out garage saling, you will find one of these. Investment: expect to pay at least $30.00 at a garage sale, or buy new for around $65.00; note this is another item that is frequently on sale at Babies R Us, or your can use your BRU coupons. Actually, never pay full price for anything at BRU...
New/Gently Used - This kind of goes without saying. Babies clothes are WAY over priced, but it is also hard finding cute things (especially for boys) in consignment stores. I buy new when getting gifts for friends, and I occasionally buy Everett some of the sets on sale at Costco, but when it comes down to it, Grandma has found some pretty cute clothes at garage sales. When it comes to linens, your child will sleep on these for about 3 years. It is worth making the investment for a fresh set of sheets. Investment: used clothes will be around $2.00, while new will start around $12.00; new crib sheets are between $10.00 and $20.00.
New/Gently Used - I love our BOB stroller, but it is quite an investment. In fact, the only reason we have one is because my coworkers all chipped in and got it for us. However, if you buy a nice stroller used, you also run into a quality issue. My mom bought a used jogger at a garage sale, and the straps broke immediately after she brought it home. Investment: I would expect to pay at least $60.00 for a good jogger; if you're going new, I recommend using your REI dividend points, waiting for a sale, and getting this BOB bundle package, which includes all the accessories you'll end up buying anyway (a new BOB - without the bundle - will be around $300.00).
If you are looking for a stroller other than a jogger, I say just settle for something gently used. We got our Snap N Go for $25.00 off Craigslist, which is a steal when you compare it to the price of getting it brand new at $65.00.
So there you have it! If you are ever in need of something used, let my mom know - she will find it for you.