Buying clothes for babies and toddlers can be a very expensive prospect each season. If you buy new clothing you can easily rack up a very large total for each child. There are definitely ways to keep costs down however–I manage to spend only about $100 per child per year! Here is my strategy for buying kids clothes.
Buy Used: The biggest part of my strategy is to buy used clothes. This might change as they get older, but at least through the baby and toddler years it works great. Babies and toddlers are just not that hard on their clothes because of how quickly they move through the sizes. You can get clothes that look new for a small fraction of the new price! I have purchased about 98 percent of my kids’ clothes second hand and have always been able to find nice looking clothing items.
Go to local Mom To Mom sales: We have a whole bunch of Mom-to-Mom sales in our area. Generally there are multiple locations in the spring and again in the fall. I just picke one venue and plan on going to both the spring and fall sales there. Once there, I just look for people who are selling the season and size that I need and buy a whole bunch at once. If you are buying a lot of clothes from one person it is really easy to offer a bundle price and get a better deal on each clothing item. You can search this site to find a seasonal consignment sale in your area.
Skip sizes: Another thing I do with kids’ clothes is skip certain sizes. Which sizes you skip just depends on how your kid grows, so it’s not a hard and fast recommendation, just what has worked for us. Both of my kids grew fast and were tall enough that I skipped the 12-month size and went straight from 9 month to 18 month. This meant that I could use the 18-month clothing for a solid two seasons, saving me the cost of a whole size.
Basics, layers, and minimalism: I buy a lot of t-shirts, onesies, and neutral looking pants. That way for the winter season I can continue to use all of the basic layers and just add cute sweaters, cardigans, or hoodies. I also keep the number of clothing pieces I buy to a minimum. I realized early on with my daughter that she generally wears 4-5 favorites all the time and the other clothes stay in the drawer. Now I buy less and she wears them all, saving me time and money!
Continue to buy gender neutral: If you have children of both genders, continue to buy basics in neutral colors so that your next child can put them to use too. I had a girl first and then a boy, so for his smaller sizes I had to buy a whole new wardrobe. Now that I have a boy though, my shopping strategy for my daughter has changed. I still buy her cute dresses and girly outfits, but since she is really into dinosaurs and construction trucks I have also started shopping the boy sections in her size as well. T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters, hoodies, and pjs are all very interchangeable for boys and girls at the toddler age!
Using these strategies I have successfully gotten through three years of baby and toddler clothing purchases and spent around $100 per child per year.
Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and rabbits, and are making plans to move out west to start a homesteading adventure together!