When I was pregnant with my son, Jake, nearly four years ago now, a whole new world of retail therapy opened up to me. I had a special drawer in the kitchen just for catalogues. I had usernames and passwords for every baby-related shopping website in the country. And, oh yes, I had money. And time. Because I didn't have any children. How things change...
It didn't take me long to realise that if you insist on brand-new stuff for your baby, you are not only a bit of an environmental hazard, you are also a bit daft. Because whatever the item is, it will be vomited on, broken or grown out of before you even notice if it's any good. The white organic cotton swaddling wrap I spent a week's earnings on was pebble-dashed with the type of newborn poo that even Vanish can't budge, and then condemned to the wheelie bin. The sheepskin rug/mat thing which Jake was meant to love rolling about on was, you would think from his reaction, made of stinging nettles. And the fancy ergonomic baby seat for the bath was used for about a week because he learnt to sit up and found it, apparently, quite insulting.
Thankfully, I have an older, richer sister who kindly had her children slightly before me and keeps our cupboards well stocked with hand-me-downs. As well as that, I live in a town that is practically famous for its charity shops. They are amazing. Once the domain of grannies and hippies, these places are perfect for toys, clothes, books and DVDs. In fact, you could buy all of the aforementioned items and still have change from a fiver.
I always have a nose on eBay, too. I'm not great at the bidding thing but these days there is plenty to buy for a bargain price without entering an auction.
But if you haven't got an older sister with Mini Boden's entire range in her attic, or a load of charity shops on your doorstep, where are the best places to go for second hand kids stuff? I asked some mum friends of mine and here's what they said:
'Try classifieds website Vivastreet.co.uk for buying second-hand baby and children's clothes and toys.'
'Gumtree is my favourite site for kids and baby bargain hunting.'
'Freegle is fab for passing your own things on to local people for free.'
'There are loads of Facebook groups started for local areas and off-shoots of baby forums, I'm on a couple, they're great... no fees either!'
'Car boot sales are fab for buying baby/kids things. You do need to check stuff carefully but they're normally a lot cheaper than eBay.'
'On Baby Swap or Shop you can list unwanted baby items for free. It's great.'
'Try Kidscaboodle.co.uk, they organise local sales of nearly new kids stuff.'
'Our local NCT Nearly New Sale has 85 sellers and 375 buyers. Everything from cots, toys, clothes, highchairs – bargains!'
'Freecycle works well in our area for getting rid of old baby stuff – it's nice to know it goes to another family who will enjoy it, too.'
What savvy money-saving ideas did you come up with when you were expecting or a new mum? Share your tips below...