It’s certainly true that many baby products are quickly grown out of or go unused, but the main culprit when it comes to lesser-used items is usually clothing. It’s no secret that kids don’t stay one size for very long, which means buying new clothes is something that can’t be avoided. And though that adorable outfit may have seemed totally worth the hefty price tag when you saw it in the store, it usually loses some of its appeal when it fails to fit your baby after the second wash. So when you decide to expand your family, you want to be able to reuse those lesser-worn pieces rather than buy a new wardrobe for every child.
Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of hand-me-downs, regardless of whether they were well-loved or little used by their previous wearer.
Strike a Balance Between Quantity and Quality
A dozen outfits that cost next to nothing is still money wasted if they don’t last for more than a few wears due to poor quality. Especially if you plan on reusing clothing for your next child, choosing better-made pieces is key. This doesn’t mean that every article of clothing has to be high-end or designer, but looking for foundation pieces that will stand the test of time will definitely give you more bang for your buck.
Of course, your baby is inevitably going to poop, vomit, or snot all over her onesie at one point or another, and your toddler is without a doubt going to come home from preschool with paint covering his t-shirt—you certainly want to have inexpensive clothing replacements when it comes to these types of situations. Just remember to create a good balance between quality and quantity to ensure you still have plenty of hand-me-downs waiting in the wings for future children.
Choose Gender Neutral Styles
One of the most common problems parents run into when reusing an older child’s clothing is gender differences between the siblings. Despite changing attitudes about gender roles and stereotypes, pink is still for girls while blue is for boys. Surprisingly, it wasn’t always that way. As Slate points out, it wasn’t until the 20th century that sex-specific clothing came into fashion. And while it’s true that a boy can sport a pastel pattern and a girl can wear a superhero shirt, most children, like adults, have fashion preferences that can make crossing stereotypical gender lines difficult. So what happens when your second child (or third or fourth) is not the same gender as your first?
The easiest way to get the most wear out of kids’ clothes is to look for gender-neutral styles. Though an overwhelming number of clothes for babies and toddlers are gender-specific, more and more companies are now offering unisex options. Kidswear company Tootsa MacGinty was founded by a mom who, frustrated by the lack of fashionable gender neutral children’s clothing options, took the matter into her own hands. Instead of focusing on gender, each piece is designed with the colorful, active lifestyle of a child in mind. It makes for fun styles that can be worn time and again.
Mix Old with New
Making good use of an older sibling’s hand-me-downs doesn’t mean your younger one’s outfits can never consist of anything new. Use lightly worn clothing as the foundation of the wardrobe—items like pants, sweaters, jackets, etc.—and add in new, inexpensive pieces that express your child’s individual personality and style. A T-shirt that sports your child’s favorite character from a movie or TV show, or a special dress for the first day of school, are little ways to combine the new and the old.
Saving money when it comes to your kids’ clothes can be tricky, but getting the most mileage out of hand-me-downs can save both your budget and your sanity. Use these easy tricks when shopping for your first and you’ll be set for every bundle of joy thereafter.