12 TIPs: 2nd hand clothes for toddlers

The seasons are changing and my toddler Ila is growing. It is time for another wardrobe update.

Ila goes to the kindergarden full-time. The kids spend a lot of time outdoors playing in the garden and it is rough on her clothes. Not to mention she outgrows them so fast. I am not willing to spend a fortune on brand name clothes that can be destroyed in one day. At the same time, I like to get my girls nice stuff.

I’ve found that the 2nd hand clothes markets are great for getting lots of good quality items for a low price, then I go out and get some nice new stuff as well. Today we spent 45 minutes at one such clothes market, would have been quicker but I took Ila along.

This is what we got:

  • 3 long sleeve red tops (1 top not visible in pic)
  • 3 dresses for winter(1 dress not visible in pic)
  • 1 stripy top with gnome hood (very cute)
  • 2 short sleeve tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 knitted jumper (with fringe, its a bit hippie)
  • 1 pair of lined jeans
  • 1 pink vest
  • 1 pair of shoes (leather inner and outer, natural rubber sole, very flexible)
  • 1 winter jacket
  • 1 wooden toy set with over 100 wooden motifs plus nails and hammers to make designs on 3 cork board plates.
  • a toy car seat that Ila selected for herself (the doll Lilly and the Panda were already ours… Ila put them in the chair when we got home)
  • a pair of soft baby cloth shoes for Lena

I spent a total of EUR68 (USD 94, AUD88.50) on all those items. The leather shoes, wooden toy and jacket were the luxuries at EUR10 each. All the rest combined was only EUR38. With the exception of the car seat, jeans and shirt, all items are good and well known brand names. Everything looks new or is actually new (with tag still on). The shoes alone are worth about EUR80 new. I estimate buying everything new we would be talking over EUR300 possibly even EUR400.

My tips for today is about how to make the most of a visit to such a market. I’ve been to a few now and have gained some experience.

This is not exactly stitching, but the savings you make can be put towards your crafts and doing more fun things with your little ones. Some of these tips would apply to any kind of shopping expedition:

  1. Know what you need before you go to such a market. For example today I wanted mostly tops, some dresses, a good pair of autumn/spring shoes and see if I could find some winter gear (shoes, jacket and a snowsuit). I wasn’t looking for any stuff for Lena, because she gets all of Ila’s stuff… plus I’ll get her a few new items for herself.
  2. Pick a set of colours and mostly stick to it (allow yourself 1 or 2 exceptions). This will ensure you end up with lots of items that can be combined into a nice looking wardrobe. For Ila I generally get mainly reds, pinks and light blue. Some purple, cream, brown, black and jeans. Today we had a big haul of reds.
  3. Decide what you are willing to get second hand. Where is your comfort level? For example, I never ever get any undergarments, toys that can’t be washed or shoes that don’t look new on the inside. For some reason that I can’t explain, I also never get any hats or beanies.
  4. Smell it! Nothing worse than coming home with something that smells fake, mouldy, etc.
  5. Feel it! Does it feel nice on your skin? What is it made from?
  6. Unless it looks new don’t buy it. No matter how cute it is!
  7. Unless you love it and can see your little one wearing it, don’t buy it. No matter how cute it is!
  8. Take a moment to review all your selections before you head for the check out. Try to take home only good quality stuff that will be loved and used. Get rid of anything you aren’t sure about.
  9. If you have your little one(s) with you: Keep an eye on them… don’t loose them. Such a market can be an overwhelming experience for them. All those people hunting down a good bargain… its scary at any age!
  10. If you have your little one(s) with you: Let them choose 1 item to take home without questioning it. Over time they’ll learn how to make good choices themselves
  11. When you get home: Wash your hands. Clean, wash and find a place to put away the new items in your home.
  12. When you get home: Find anything that is being replaced by new items and put it close to the door so you remember to take it out of your home next time you go out to recycle, sell, rubbish, give away…

We can afford to get all new stuff for our girls, but I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I also get a good feeling knowing the things I bring home will be loved and used instead of ending up in a landfill. When we are finished with them, they are donated to a charity to hopefully find new homes again.

As I type this my toddler Ila is happily sorting the wooden motifs, putting them in the carseat and a bucket. The new clothes are in the washing machine, there is a box of outgrown toddler clothes to be put in storage until they fit baby Lena. On Monday a load of clothes that no longer fit baby Lena will be placed in the charity box down the road.

Happy hunting!