Planning to save money on baby clothes is one of the most important things to do when having a baby on a tight budget.
If there’s any lesson I learned REALLY quickly after having my first baby, it was those cute 36$ sleepers in newborn size fit for about 26 days. (And baby only got to wear them 6 times in that 26 days period, because let’s face it – I wasn’t doing laundry every other day postpartum. I was busy enjoying my new baby.)
I found a ton of creative ways to save money on baby clothes once I realized we could EASILY spend this kid’s college fund in the next 3 years – on clothes alone.
I’m a pretty frugal person, so saving money comes naturally to me, but even I didn’t realize just how many ways there are to get kids + baby clothes cheap (or free) until I started looking.
How to Save Money On Baby Clothes
On top of being kinda cheap, I am also against grossly unnecessary waste – and new baby clothes are the DEFINITION of unnecessary waste. I’m not kidding when I say my babies wore their newborn stuff not more than a handful of times.
Saving money on baby clothes for me starts with being very hesitant to but a lot of NEW baby clothes.
This world is full to overflowing with cute new baby stuff that will NEVER get worn out.
However, I refused (and still refuse) to dress my kids in shabby or stained clothes simply because there is SO MUCH good quality baby clothes out there available for free or super cheap.
So trying to keep your baby clothes budget down does NOT mean your kids can’t dress cute! (PS, if your kid IS super cute, you can enter the baby model photo contest at cutekids for a chance to win 25,000$. Enter here.)
2 kids and 3.5 years into clothing those 2 kids, I can now generally dress my kids and hardly spend anything at all – and they still look adorable, not poor. lol
Here’s my best tips for how to get baby clothes without spending much money!
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1 – Don’t buy baby clothes too soon
If this is your first baby, it can be VERY tempting to start shopping, but buying baby clothes (or any baby things at all) too soon is an easy way to waste money or over-spend.
You will likely get a lot of baby clothes at your baby shower, or as gifts from friends and family when you have the baby.
Buying too much too soon in your pregnancy will result in an overabundance of clothes that you probably can’t even use (or return, since you bought them 6 months ago).
Related: When Should I Buy Baby Stuff?
2- Get baby clothes one size too big
There are certain stages (and certain clothing items) where you can get away with putting your kid in “slightly” larger-than-they-should be clothes. They’re only gonna be large for a short time, and then they’re gonna fit – and you got DOUBLE time out of them.
I find that you can put an “average” sized baby in 0-3 months, and skip the newborn size (they are only going to wear newborn for a month anyhow).
With the exception of a super cute outfit for photos, baby doesn’t need much! (I mean you want at least one amazing sweet little baby photo, and you MAY want to enter that photo in the cutekids photo contest for a chance to with 25,000$).
I also find that with sweaters / hoodies / t-shirts, you can go one size up, and kids don’t care if they’re a little baggy. I just bought 2t t-shirts for my 2-year-old who would EASILY fit into 24 month tshirts… but she’ll wear the 2t ones for nearly a year, whereas the 24 month shirts would be quite tight on her in 4 or 5 months.
Underpants, loose-fitting dresses, and coats can also often be worn a little on the large size.
(Pants + shoes are the things I’ve really struggled to put my kids into larger sizes, as they can be tripping hazards.)
3 – Go gender-neutral when you can
Even if this is your first baby, unless you know without a doubt that you will never have another, go for some gender-neutral things (especially for the more expensive items).
My daughter wore my son’s black wither coat (hello 45$), and his black running shoes (hello, ALSO, 45$).
She also wore his blue + green dinosaur and tractor jammies, because we had not thought about the benefits of buying gender-neutral, but I also wasn’t about to drop 50$ for 3 pairs of winter jammies to get us through the last 2 months of winter before it got so hot she wouldn’t need jammies at all.
4 – Consider a minimalist baby wardrobe
I failed here.
I actually found so many cheap baby clothes that I ended up with an obscene amount of baby clothes. The clothes actually became overwhelming!
There was SO MUCH STUFF that my kids never even wore once, and honestly, I could have saved even more money by having less.
A baby doesn’t need much more than 1o onesies, 5 pairs of pants/leggings, a couple of sweaters and 4-5 pairs of jammies. Maybe a super cute outfit or two for pictures / church / holidays.
That’s really all a baby needs!
5 – Treat stains immediately
Another thing I failed at, or maybe didn’t fully understand the importance of, when I was a new mom was recognizing that if I treated the stains immediately, they didn’t become permanent stains. This stuff, is AMAZING for removing even the most offensive stains!
Some of my favorite baby clothes got ruined (and had to be replaced) because I told myself I’d treat the stain when I did laundry.
When your baby’s clothes aren’t covered in icky stains, you can use them for another baby, sell them at a garage sale, or send ’em on to a consignment store (effectively turning them back into cash).
6 – Make use of consignment stores like Thred-Up
As your baby starts to outgrow their first set of clothes, you’ll see – like I mentioned – that for the most part the stuff still looks NEW… so take it to a consignment store (where they actually pay you for your old baby clothes).
You won’t get a TON of cash for the clothes, but it’s more than nothing, and you can put this money towards the NEXT size up.
There are both physical store-front and online baby clothes consignment stores.
Thred-Up is my favorite online shop – you can send your used things there AND you can buy gently used things for a FRACTION of the price of new. Check out Thred-Up here.
Once Upon a Child is a great physical store-front that has lots of locations – you can save a TON on baby clothes by shopping there.
7- Shop at thrift stores
You might have to “pick through” a little more, as the quality won’t generally be AS great as what you can find at a consignment store, but the prices are often EVEN BETTER – and well worth the time spent to look for the gems!
8 – Shop at garage sales
I have CLEANED UP at garage sales – especially for the more expensive items like winter coats and shoes / boots.
I got my daughter a (super adorable) Disney snowsuit at a garage sale last year for 10$, and it looked like it had never even been worn! (It no longer looks that way. haha.)
9 – Take (and share) hand-me-downs on Facebook
I grew up in hand-me-downs, and my kids will grow up in hand-me-downs. Insisting on new clothes for babies is literally an insult to the environment (and your bank account).
If you have something nice that has a lot of life left in it, let your friends know that it’s up for grabs. There are TONS of Facebook groups set up specifically for the purpose of re-homing STUFF.
I’m a member of a kids + babies buy / sell group where I frequently find awesome deals.
Let friends with kids know that you’re up for swapping, and be sure to pass along the things you have that THEY can use.
10 – Stock up on clearance /end-of-season items for NEXT season
Two years ago, I made the mistake of not buying any winter stuff for the NEXT season when it went on clearance in March.
I ended up not only buying full-priced snow pants and boots for my kids, but also having to settle for what I could find, which was poor quality and not overly cute.
LAST year I did not make the same mistake and wow – it was nice this year to pull out my kids winter stuff after the first blizzard and not even think about having to go hunt anything down.
I did the same with summer shoes at the end of last season, and I have to admit, I’m addicted to pre-buying seasonal stuff for 75% off now.
11 – Worst case scenario, never buy new without a coupon – EVER
There HAVE been times when I’ve needed something NOW and been unable to find one second-hand (jeans for my 3-year-old and summer shoes for my 1.5-year-old come to mind).
HOWEVER, I’ve literally never been able to NOT find a coupon by looking online. Generally, you can “get 25% off your first order” or whatever, when you subscribe to the mailing list for company you’re shopping with.
(And you can “get 25% off your first order” again and again with a new email address and credit card!)
Cheap Baby Clothes are Easy to Come by – if you just look for them
Honestly – I never struggle to buy baby clothes on a budget. (Except when it comes to seasonal things, like summer shoes or snow pants – things that tend to sell out quickly when the need arises. but you’re prepared for that now, and you’re buying them the season before when they go on clearance – right?!)
Learning to save money on baby clothes – and kids clothes in general – is one of my top 5 ways to save money while raising kids. You can save THOUSANDS if you do these things instead of heading straight to walmart or carters to get your baby clothes!