The exciting months anticipating your baby's birth are also a time of great preparation. It does not take long to realize that your little bundle of joy will require a lot of special paraphernalia, and as you add up the dollar signs in your mind, you may feel a sense of panic set in. This need not be the case, though, as many parents-to-be are discovering that buying baby items secondhand is an acceptable, budget-friendly alternative to purchasing everything new.
Lisa M Beamer

Be a borrower
Even if you have never considered yourself to be the "hand-me-down" kind, now is a good time to start. Friends and family members are often very willing to lend you their gently used baby items. Some pieces of equipment, such as swings and bassinets, rarely get worn out due to their short-lived use. Newborn-sized clothing, too, often receives little wear, especially dressy outfits and outerwear. Borrowing these items, when possible, will help you stretch your baby-budget dollars.

The garage sale circuit
Many folks enjoy hunting for bargains at garage and yard sales. This can be a money-saving way to acquire many smaller baby items such as slings, baby gyms, safety gates and toys, just to name a few. Sharon, a California mother of four, also had luck in finding one of the larger items she needed through the garage sale route. "I bought an awesome wooden changing table at a neighbor's garage sale for $25.00," she reports.

Check out resale shops & sites
Another option for buying affordable, secondhand baby items is to shop at children's resale stores. Blythe Restelli, manager of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area "Once Upon a Child" store, says, "Resale provides a great value that people are looking for. As they have more children, resale is really the way to go." Restelli reports that large equipment items such as Pack 'n' Plays, swings and high chairs are virtually impossible for them to keep in stock. These items, which the store prices at approximately half of their retail value, are sold as quickly as they get them in.

Online auction sites, such as eBay, are hugely popular for both the variety and the prices they offer. It's one simple way to see what is beyond in your neighborhood -- you can find baby products from all over the country.

High-quality infant clothing is also a great resale buy. "People can find brand names at a reduced rate of 25 to 30% of the original retail price," says Restelli. Another enthusiastic nod for buying her babies' clothes through resale comes from Amy of New York. "I liked shopping in secondhand shops," she says. "I got to choose what I wanted, but didn't pay full price."

Secondhand caution
While buying secondhand items can be affordable, you must exercise caution. Learn the safety requirements for baby equipment before buying used items. Car seats, playpens, cribs and bedding, for example, all have specific standards that must be considered regarding safety. Books such as the Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20-50 Percent by Denise and Alan Fields are good references for learning about the safety requirements for such items.

No matter where you acquire your secondhand items, always ask questions about previous use or problems, as well as proper operating instructions. By being informed, you will be rewarded not only with the financial savings of shopping secondhand, but with the satisfaction of having a beautiful and safely outfitted layette ready to welcome your new

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