4 Kids' Items I Only Buy Used — and 3 Items I Only Buy New

The average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is around $310,605, which is quite frankly a really large sum of money. I have two children, which means that if I spent that much to raise each of them, I’d have invested well over half a million dollars.

While my kids are worth any price, I don’t really want to incur such huge costs in raising them. That’s why I try to buy used whenever I can. There are some items I don’t feel comfortable purchasing pre-owned though.

If you’re trying to decide whether to spring for new or not, check out the kids’ items I always buy used as well as the ones that I insist come directly off store shelves.

These are the kids’ items I’ll only purchase used

I save a ton of money in our household budget by only buying the following four categories of items for my children pre-owned:

1. Clothes

My children outgrow their clothes around once every five minutes. And, when they aren’t busy outgrowing the pants I bought yesterday, they are getting grass stains on their shirts. I simply refuse to pay full price for brand new clothes they will hardly wear, especially when there are tons of gently used items out there for sale. I commonly find things with tags on them at consignment sales or thrift stores for $1 or $2 because kids often outgrow things before they can even wear them.

2. Shoes

The only thing my kids seem to do faster than outgrow their clothes is outgrow their shoes. And, as if that isn’t bad enough, both of my children hate to wear shoes, so they kick them off the first chance they get — and that sometimes means shoes don’t make it home with us. If you’ve ever seen a lone child’s shoe in a parking lot, now you know why (and can you please send it back?). Fortunately, I can score great deals on used sneakers, snow boots, and sandals at consignment sales and thrift stores as well.

3. Baby toys

Although my kids enjoy toys, they don’t have a long attention span for most of them, and they rarely play with anything for more than a few weeks before moving on to the next item. Since I buy toys used and can then turn around and resell them for close to what I paid, this doesn’t really bother me. If I bought new stuff, though, I could quickly see myself becoming that crazy mom insisting they spend hours playing with something just because of how much money came out of my bank account to buy it. I don’t want to be that mom, so it’s a used-toys-only mantra in our house.

4. Sporting equipment

Sports can teach great things to kids, including how to play well with others. But, this comes at a price. The average spent across all sports per child is a shocking $693 per year. Although the toddler soccer and baby gymnastics my kids take part in don’t come at quite such a high cost, I do have to buy equipment like cleats and leotards. I’ve opted to purchase this stuff used too since it’s readily available and many kids use it for only a brief time before deciding a particular sport isn’t for them.

If you’re a parent also looking to save money like me (and what parent isn’t?), you may want to consider buying these items used. To find them:

  • Check for specialty kids consignment sales. In my area, there are a few big ones each year — one at a local church, and others organized by a company called Just Between Friends. Check out Facebook events to find these types of sales where you live.
  • Visit thrift stores and charity shops. Check reviews or call before you go to see if there’s a kids’ section at the store.
  • Shop garage sales: To save time, we go to community-wide sales where we can visit a bunch of homes at once. These are usually advertised on Facebook Events as well.
  • Organize swaps with other parents: My mom’s group has toy and clothing swaps regularly so you can get rid of stuff your kids don’t need and exchange it for things they do.

These are the kids’ items I’ll only purchase new

While there are plenty of kids’ items that you should buy used, there are three things in particular it’s best to only buy brand new. These include:

  1. Car seats: Second-hand car seats can be really dangerous. You can’t know for sure if they’ve been in an accident and, if they have, this could compromise their safety. It may also be more difficult to determine if they have been subject to a recall if you aren’t the original owner. And, you might be missing important parts and not even know it.
  2. Cribs: Safe sleep is extremely important for children. A used crib might not be up to modern safety standards (for example, the slats may be too wide). You could also miss a recall or have missing parts with a used crib as well.
  3. High chairs. This is another item that could be risky if you get a chair that’s missing parts or not up to safety standards. Plus, I’ve seen the mess my own kids make of their high chairs and I don’t really want to inherit someone else’s old banana mush that gets into impossible-to-clean crevices.

Basically, if any item could present a safety risk when purchased used, steer clear. You’re better off paying a little more on your credit cards to avoid the risk of your child getting hurt.

The good news is, with plenty of other items that it’s OK to buy used, you can — and should — save money without taking unnecessary risks. Give it a try and see what your local consignment sales or garage sales have on offer.

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