The Dos And Don'ts Of Buying Secondhand Clothes For Your Kid

I'm no longer buying new clothes for my toddler and it's the best decision I've made. Here's how you can bag a bargain too.
Blanchi Costela via Getty Images

When my daughter was born, our drawers became filled with knitted cardies and multi-packs of baby grows in varying colours and prints – kind gifts from family members and friends that would see us through her first few months.

But it’ll come as no surprise to anyone that babies grow – and fast – which can mean, as a parent, you end up needing to buy new clobber extremely regularly.

When you’re on parental leave and not earning a lot, this isn’t sustainable – nor is it good for the planet.

Once our daughter had outgrown the new baby clothes we’d been given, including the ginormous bag of secondhand girl’s clothing we’d been gifted by a family member, I was left browsing the supermarkets for new outfits that wouldn’t break the bank.

It was around this time that I started looking on secondhand clothing apps. My statutory maternity pay had ended and we had a 10-month-old whose leggings were starting to resemble pedal-pushers. I’d seen a few adverts for secondhand sites and some influencers talking about selling bits on Depop, plus there seemed to be more stores popping up on Instagram selling old children’s clothes, such as One More Time Preloved – so I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

First on my list of places to try was Vinted. It sounds like the ultimate cliché to say, but I haven’t looked back. Since the summer I’ve bought all of our daughter’s clothes secondhand from there and it’s saved me hundreds of pounds. Loads of the stuff I’ve bought has still got tags on, too.

Some of my better pre-loved purchases include: her first pair of shoes (size 4 from Sass & Me) which were unworn, made from real leather and cost me £4; an entire collection of summer clothes – mostly rompers with tags still on – which cost me £40; a bundle of denim leggings (five pairs) for £4; and a super cute mustard winter coat with a faux fur collar for £3.

Some items bought on Vinted including my daughter's first pair of shoes (£4) and two winter pinafores (£3).
Natasha Hinde
Some items bought on Vinted including my daughter's first pair of shoes (£4) and two winter pinafores (£3).

You can also get Clarks shoes that have been worn maybe three or four times for a fiver – which, when you think about it, is a huge saving as new Clarks baby shoes can cost up to £35. There are baby Converse, baby Uggs, designer baby goods (if you’re that way inclined), and tonnes of handmade knitted bits for less than £10.

Charity shops, eBay, and apps like Depop and Vinted are all great sources for parents on a budget – and buying secondhand isn’t just great news for your bank balance, it’s also better for the planet as far fewer clothes end up in landfill.

A study by British Wool suggests as many as 63% of people admit to chucking clothes away, which could easily have either been mended, taken to a charity shop or sold on. Meanwhile 81% of people said they would like to change their shopping habits to be more sustainable but simply don’t know where to start. Shopping secondhand – especially for parents – is definitely a good place to begin.

If you’re interested in buying secondhand, here are some dos and don’ts for getting preloved goodies for your little ones.

A winter coat, pair of baby Ugg boots and some leather Chelsea boots – all bought secondhand.
Natasha Hinde
A winter coat, pair of baby Ugg boots and some leather Chelsea boots – all bought secondhand.

Do opt for clothes that are bigger

If your child is nine months old, it’s worth buying clothes the next size up as by the time they arrive, and you’ve washed them, chances are your child will be well on their way to fitting in the next size up anyway. Plus, sleeves and trouser legs can be rolled up, but you can’t make clothes that are too small, bigger.

Don’t buy from lots of different sellers (if you can help it)

On apps like Vinted, if you buy more than one item from the same seller you get bundle discounts (up to 15% off) – plus you only pay one lot of postage, as opposed to if you bought several items from different sellers – so you end up saving a lot more money.

Do make use of the search filters

Search filters can be your best friend when it comes to buying secondhand, saving you hours of scrolling – you can filter specific sizes, types of clothing and even the specific brand where you’d like an item to be from.

Don’t just browse for the sake of it

When you’re a parent, time is a precious luxury so it’s worth knowing what exactly it is you’re looking for before starting your secondhand shopping spree. Otherwise you can lose hours – and I mean, hours – scrolling through cute knitted cardigans and adorable dungarees.

Don’t be afraid to make an offer

Sellers usually stipulate the price they want for an item, but sometimes you can be a bit cheeky and make an offer – especially if the item was uploaded a while ago and still hasn’t sold. Obviously don’t be too cheeky with your offers – asking for something half price is usually a no-no – but sometimes you can get away with knocking a couple of quid off a purchase.

Do keep an eye on the quality

When you’re looking for clothes especially, it’s important to inspect the photos to see the quality. Some items can be listed as ‘good’ quality and I tend to shy away from these as they’ll typically have the odd stain, imperfection or bobbling. Items listed as ‘very good’, ‘new without tags’ and ‘new with tags’ are typically best.