Babies and all of the stuff that comes with them can quickly get expensive and overwhelming. Luckily, embracing your greener side can save you money and help cut through the clutter. Here are some tips for cutting costs while reducing your environmental impact.
Thrifty, Eco-Friendly Ideas for Raising Baby:
Look for Baby Items That Multitask
Baby gear can be sanity saving, but it can also suck up money and space. Look for baby products that serve more than one function and will last for several developmental phases: A dresser with removable changing table top, a Boppy nursing pillow that baby can also use for tummy time and learning to sit up, Fisher Price’s Space Saving High Chair that can be used as a newborn seat through a toddler booster, a baby carrier by Onya Baby that doubles as a portable high chair when attached to a regular chair.
Buy Secondhand Baby Gear
Purchasing secondhand baby gear is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and save money. Shopping locally at garage sales, consignment stores, thrift stores, and on craigslist also supports your local community, rather than sending money to a big box store’s corporate headquarters. You can also find free baby stuff on craigslist, freecycle, and local online parenting message boards. To ensure safety, check items for recalls, contact the manufacturer for a replacement if the product manual is missing, and verify that you have all of the product’s parts. Some items have further safety considerations. Car seats, for instance, cannot be reused after being in an accident and have expiration dates. Also, many used cribs do not meet current safety standards because new standards, including the banning of drop- side cribs, were put in place in June 2011.
Get Connected with Baby Hand-Me-Downs
Let it be known that you welcome hand-me-downs. As word gets out, you’ll likely find friends, family and co-workers who are happy to give you their outgrown gear and clothes. Be sure to have a clear understanding of whether or not people expect their items back. If you’re not comfortable keeping track of baby items to give back, politely decline those offers. The safety considerations for secondhand gear also apply to hand-me-downs.
Try Before You Buy
If you’re considering buying a new baby product, first see if you know someone else who owns it and will let you borrow or try it out with your baby. Finding out that your baby doesn’t like the baby gadget you thought would make your life easier is a bummer, but it’s made much worse if you figure it out after you’ve bought and can no longer return it.
Ask for the Gift of Time
When resources like time and energy are short, parents can find themselves spending money on take- out and other conveniences. Enlist people who want to lend a hand to help both before and after baby arrives with tasks like preparing the nursery, baby-proofing the house, stocking your freezer with meals, taking the dog for walks, and providing transportation or care for older siblings. This is a great way to lighten your load and reduce the need to hire outside help.
Swaps are springing up all over the country to help people trade stuff with each other and many of them focus on maternity, baby and children’s gear and clothes. Swaps vary, but frequently cost around five dollars to get in for people who bring stuff to swap and ten dollars for those who don’t. Some swaps are “bring a bag, take a bag” while others are set up for swappers to bring whatever they don’t want anymore and take whatever they need. Not only is swapping a cheap way to get new-to-you clothes and gear, it’s a great way to keep the stream of outgrown baby stuff moving out your door so it’s not taking up space in your home.
Guest post by Felicity Hernandez, Founder of Encore Baby Registry, a free website where many of these ideas can be employed. Encore Baby Registry allows expectant parents to create gift registries that include new, secondhand and hand- me-down items on loan or to keep. Along with special features for secondhand gift giving and loaning, Encore Baby Registry provides detailed information about secondhand shopping, safety and etiquette.