Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Pre-loved Love.

Buying pre-loved? There’s no shame in it!
Kitting out of a Nursery for the first time is expensive business. Large companies will send you their catalogues and state you can ‘get the look’ for £500.00. But what do you do when you have a budget of less than £300.00? In a recession when budgets and wallets are at their tightest parents find themselves looking at ways of cutting down and saving any extra pounds they can. Afterall Children are not cheap and the costs never go down-rather they carry on getting bigger and bigger as the bundle grows.
For some buying second name isn’t even something they have to think about-they do it. It’s the wallet and eco-friendly option.  For others though culture dictates that they cannot buy second hand for it will look ‘bad’ on their family. It’s almost like you are saying ‘I cannot afford this child but still’. To those sisters/brothers reading this who come from that group, I do hope this blog helps ease your mind and helps you with your budgeting needs. As a side note, I would like to add that buying pre-loved is not against Islam or any other religion (as far as my knowledge goes). Culture is great, but not if it means you are burning a hole onto your credit card bill to pay off later.
So buying second hand or pre-loved as is the preferred way to reference it. What does that really mean? It simply means you are purchasing your babies items that have been pre-loved by another family before you. That family is highly likely to have purchased that item new and instead of simply keeping the items in the attic they are releasing their assets and recouping some of the cost they paid out. Doesn’t sound that scary now does it? Honestly though, I hope to sell on Munchys stuff once we have ‘completed’ our family. When will that be you ask. No idea so moving on...
Buying pre-loved items is a big business. Just taking a look around in your community and your local Superstore and you will find people advertising nearly new items at ridiculously low prices as well as second hand items at nice affordable prices.
 For the purpose of this entry I have a look at my local Netmums nearly new board and found a Mamas and Papas cot that cost £400.00 new in top condition for £175.00. Used for 12 months the seller stated, however the child is now sleeping on the bottom bunk of their siblings bed thus the cot is no longer in use. I took a further look and found a Petite Zia pushchair for £30.00. Used for 18 months, still in great condition, no tears etc-seller welcomed buyers to look at the item before agreeing to purchase. There was also a pink Bumbo for £15.00 with the tray (the tray alone costs around £10.00!). Toy wise an ELC garage that costs £40.00 new can be found with extra cars for £6.50-seller has stated two toddlers played with item but it’s still in great condition.
As you can see, if you look in the right places you can find bargains. Is there anything to be ashamed of buying second hand? Absolutely not-who will know apart from you? Any should you be embarrassed about wanting to cater for your newborns needs? If you are really aware of the fact your family and friends will not understand why you are buying pre-loved here are some tips for you:
·         Visit NCT nearly new sales in areas away from home
·         Look at notice boards out of your area
·         Look for items on Netmums and collect the items yourself, check the condition and store the items away until baby arrives. Once baby is here no one will have the time to concentrate on the items especially if cutesy baby has new bedding set.
 You can purchase items and even clean them if need be (I have seen people do this so I know it’s highly possible to do this). I know a young lady who purchased a second hand cot in a pine finish, sanded it down (her partner helped at this stage) and they painted it with child friendly paint in bright neon pink. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was theirs. My friend said the cot cost £20.00, and when she added on the cost of the paint it cost her under £50.00 for a one of a kind cot. So it’s not just those on a tight budget that are looking at pre-loved; those who like to personalise their items to create one-of-a-kind items also prefer to buy pre-loved. And let’s be honest- wouldn’t you rather have all the items you want and need at an affordable price rather than building up debt and worry about paying it off?
These are the top places in my humble opinion to try for pre-loved items:
·         Friends and family (you maybe able to borrow the item with the condition you return it in a good condition-just remember if you damage an item you borrow it’s only good courtesy to replace the item)
·         Netmums local Nearly new boards
·         Local Newspaper
·         Facebook and other social networking sites  
·         EBay
·         NCT nearly new sales
·         Community Baby equipment and toy sales
·         Notice Boards in Supermarkets and shops
·         Playgroups (other mums selling items on-most groups organise tabletop  sales
·         The playground (if you know parents who can ask around for you it may save you money).
If you purchase off EBay just factor in postal costs, and the fact if the item is far away you may not be able to view the item and are basically buying based on the description and photos. Second hand items are not covered by the same policies as new items on EBay.
Also, always use internet safety common sense. If someone is ‘selling’ a brand new Mamas and Papas Nursery for £150.00 instead of £600.00 and want a bank transfer before you’ve seen the item chances are the sale is fake. So you have been warned.
Top items you can buy second hand and clean them (with furniture wipes, dettol-take your pick. Once you’ve cleaned the item I recommend you ‘air’ the item to ensure it has dried properly):
·         Moses basket
·         Cribs
·         Cots
·         High Chair (wooden, adjustable ones are worth their weight in gold as they grow with your little one)
·         Bumbos & Trays (or other sitting aides)
·         Dressers
·         Other furniture e.g. wardrobes
·         First large toys such as play gyms
Realistically, all you need for the first six months is a safe place for little one to sleep. So if you need to really tighten our belt, just buy the bare necessities for the first few months and look for the other items along the way.
The following item is best purchased new (as recommended by Health officials):
Mattresses for cot/crib/basket/cot-take a look online before purchasing online. I bought a mattress for Munchys crib for £30.00 including postage whereas on the High Street a similar item was priced at £55.00. Always use a reputable company and ask for recommendations on Forums if you are not sure.
What about Clothes!?
Okay so truthfully it’s hard not to go giddy at all the baby clothes in the shops however trust me when I say costs start to build up. Here are my top tips for cutting the cost of your tiny person’s wardrobe:
Don’t automatically rule out ‘hand-me-down’s’. Friends and family won’t give you stuff that is not useable (or at least they shouldn’t do) and it will save you money. I’ve known friends who’ve received bagfuls of Gap, Vertbaudet, Jojo Maman Bebe, Next and Mothercare for free. The items were in good condition, and of course they looked lovely updated with new tights, cardigans etc.
Also, during the first two years of your child’s life you will notice how quickly they grow. Clothes in the first year go up in three months e.g. 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months. They are also of course weight based too so if your baby is on the slender side (as my Munchy is) you may find certain clothes fit longer. During the second year the sizes are usually 12-18, 18-24 months. So based on this you can see how much wear and tear clothes will receive. Many clothes bundles can be found on EBay and on Netmums at great prices. If you are watching the budget and want nice clothes but do not have the option of hand-me-downs you could consider this option.
Parents usually buy the first lot of clothes themselves-so having a supply of sleep suits and bodysuits (The undergarments). Personally, I think the best ones to go for are the Supermarkets own brands in white-that way you can put them all in the washing machine without worrying about colours running. We had 12 sleep suits, and the same number of bodysuits. I bought them from Asda. Cheap and cheerful, however they were in no condition to be passed down after Munchy finished with them (the constant burping of a child ruins the back of the sleep suits so you have been warned if you want to buy expensive ones with the intention of reusing later on for siblings).
Always remember to wash all new clothes before you use them. This is simply to remove excess chemicals/dust on the items. These items are made in giant factories, where sometimes items can sit around for a while collecting the ugly dust and so forth which you don’t want against a newborns skin. The same rule applies to new bedding or hand-me-down items as you want to get rid of any dust collected whilst the items were in storage.
If family wish to buy you clothes, my suggestion is you ask for the size up, or vouchers. A newborn will hardly wear their clothes and will outgrow them before you get your monies worth. Vouchers are great as you can use them in the sales. There’s no shame in asking for vouchers instead. I always ask for vouchers on special occasions. I have no space for knick-knacks such as candles so vouchers mean I can buy what I actually need.
Bottle or Breast feeding?
If you plan to bottle feed don't forget to factor in the costs of:
Bottles and Teats
Steriliser and cleaning equipment
Bottle warmer
Toys are something you will notice breed like rabbits unless you put a stop to it. If you are limited for space only buy items you really love and buy only a few. Your little one will not know what toys are for at least 6 months. Toys can cost a lot-what you need to remember is:
Your newborn cannot understand what a toy yet and are not likely to show interest until they are around 6-8 months.
All Toy manufacturers claim their toy is the best and will make your child into Einstein-it’s all clever marketing and shiny packaging and you really do not need to fall for it.
If friends and family wish to buy your child toys I really do believe you are best encouraging them to give you vouchers for a Toy store. Munchy is currently into Happyland and Princesses. We never saw that in her as a baby so could never have predicted that or bought toys in accordance to that. Once a baby starts developing their personality you will be able to buy toys more geared to their likes and needs.
Second toys can be purchased via Netmums boards, EBay and even School Fayre's where there are table top sales. Sales often throw up bargains so keep your eyes peeled as ELC sales are renowned for having big makes such as Vtech at up to 70% off-around the same price of buying pre-loved. We bought a Vtech toy that should have been £44.99 for £8.00. Bargains can be found if you keep an eye out.
A side note on soft toys:
You will discover over time that soft toys in particular are problematic for spreading germs. We have combated this in several ways:
We bought minimum soft toys-it seemed like the most logical thing to do and quite honestly was the best think as Munchy loves Princesses and we never bought them so as her personality develops so does her toy collection.
We launder Munchys soft toys on a quick cycle followed by a fast spin (you must be careful when washing items in a washing machine-always read the label!)
We asked friends and family NOT to buy Munchy toys. For the first few months your baby isn’t aware of toys, and when they do become aware of them, we used mainly Lamaze Toys are they are unisex and are great developmental toys (and easily wipes clean).
You will find toys aimed at your child in every colour,shape and form. All toys will claim to be the best for your child. I should know because I am talking from the experience of buying excessive amount of toys Munchy simply wasn’t intrigued by.
 Do your wallet a favour, and hold fire on buying those large bulky plastic toys. The factories in the PRC (how fancy does that sound compared to just China) won’t be closing down so when your little one does decide to start playing with toys the supplies will not dry out. Stick to smaller toys that can be stored away easily to begin with-my recommendation is Lamaze Toys (before someone claims I am pushing their toys I must have been sponsored please! I am recommending them as we have a large collection of their toys Munchy still loves at the age of 2).
You can of course buy this pre-loved or you can buy a unisex bundle new for a crib or Moses basket from Mothercare in the current sale for under £30.00 (Circus theme, in yellow). If you plan to have more than one child, you will definitely get your monies worth. Sometimes it is definitely worth looking at new items before purchasing pre-loved.
What you may wish to look out for on EBay is things like new crochet blankets, quilted covers for older children as these are often harder to find and when you do find them in specialist shops they are priced accordingly.
Always worth borrowing:
Parenting books-most first time parents will have one or two books on their shelves. Why not borrow a book from a friend or the Library rather than buying? Just remember to return the books!
Using Children Centres and other organisations Toy Libraries
My local Children’s Centre has a Toy Library and a Parenting Book Library. You can borrow a range of toys and even Bumbos (which is a blessing for those who don’t have the space to store items as you can return the item to the Library). What a lovely service for those who are watching their pennies. Why not call your local Children Centre and find out what services they offer. If they don’t have a Toy Library, they should be able to point you in the direction of one locally. Churches and Schools (with Nurseries) and are often good places to ask about Toy Libraries and Toy sharing Schemes.
STOP-stress alert!
If kitting out your baby is stressing you, sit down and have a drink (ideally a cup of tea). Write down what you would to buy and what is really important to you. If having a nice new Moses basket is important to you but that down. Write down everything-down to socks. That way if anyone asks if there is anything they can buy for the baby, you have a list to refer to.
Still not convinced you want to buy pre-loved?
That’s your own prerogative. I cannot dictate to you as a reader, nor should one try. I just wanted to highlight the options that you do have should you wish to look at alternative options. Your baby will thrive on love and care and honestly the Nursery equipment won’t be remembered by your little bundle at all. They will see it in photos and that’s about it. But having stressed parents who are struggling to pay off debts accumulated from their pre-birth really isn’t something I would encourage.
If you still want to purchase everything new, why not consider the following:
Slightly second items direct from the company (www.nurseryvalue.com
-for Petite Zia slightly second goods at fantastically low prices. I’ve used them previously and can highly recommend them).
Factory Shops-I live near a Mamas and Papas shop. They get lovely items in, however it puts me off that you cannot return items. Hormones usually result in a change of heart at least 5 times a day for me. Bah hum.
www.kiddiecare.com- now owned by Morrison’s. They have some lovely items come in. A few months back they had adjustable wooden highchairs in for under £30.00 including the postage (as it’s free on orders of a certain cost). I bought Munchys mattresses for her Crib and Cot from these guys; affordable and good quality too.  I must say though, I have yet to order since they changed ownership.
www.mothercare.com You will love the sales these guys have. I’ve picked up hats at 75% off (okay it was in May but it was still a bargain for the winter wardrobe). Bedding sales are great to look out for too. A single Fireman Sam duvet cover has recently been in the sale for £7.49. As mentioned previously a Circus themed Crib bale is on sale at just under £30.00. It’s in a yellow colour making it a lovely neutral colour set for a girl or boy.
www.vertbaudet.co.uk This website is my knight in shining armour when it comes to a wardrobe fit for a princess. Their bedding sets are gorgeous as it all the furniture. I have yet to buy anything at full price off Vertbaudet-I simply shop with them during their great sales where you can pick up French fashion at up to 70% off.
Sainsbury’s Tu clothing is not only good quality it’s priced to be affordable. Plus Tu have a 25% off their clothing and shoe range at least once a season where you can pick up great bargains. The best bit for me is I’ve bought Munchy lovely denim dress with a top and tights for £4.20 as Tu knock off 25% off the price of items in the sale too. I can only praise Tu for their range of clothes, and the additional 25% off clothes. I’ve also bought bits for myself too from the Tu range so there is something for everyone.
Other places to try especially during the sales (based on my own experience) are:
Tesco (Florence and Fred do well made baby and children’s clothes. Their partyware is a favourite in our household for Munchy).
Gap-we have shopped at the Gap Outlet near Blackpool and loved it. Their sales in their High Street Stores are also worth looking at. Their jeans of course are well made and last.
H&M-this store features heavily in my Munchys wardrobe because of affordability plus they have some lovely Minnie Mouse clothing which Munchy lives for. They have sales and reduced items on a regular basis. I’ve yet to go to a physical sale at H&M-maybe Munchys Baba will read this and take a hint for post Christmas sales 2012?
George@Asda-We have picked up a few bits from George but not too many. We purchased a lovely dungaree style denim dress for £6.00 at full price. It’s well made and gets worn by Munchy with various tops and tights-very versatile for a girls wardrobe.
Next-their post Christmas sales are the best bet for bargains. I’ve been to the sales at silly-o-clock and picked up lots for Munchy.
Bows and Arrows, Boots Limited Edition, Boots own brand clothes@Boots-I cannot talk about my love for Boots clothes too much because I would go on for pages. Boots do a classical range of clothes that remind me of a bygone era of style. We usually purchase dresses from the Boots range. The sales provide a great opportunity to stock up on their lovely clothes. I’ve purchased a lovely lace dress for £16.00 (was £32.00) which is yet to be worn by Munchy (it’s in the wardrobe labelled for next Eid InshAllah).
Readers please note: none of the companies mentioned in this entry have sponsored or bribed their way into it. All are genuine recommendations based on the writers own experiences.
However you plan to kit out your little bundle-enjoy every moment because it really does fly by.

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