The idea of shopping for your baby is thrilling at first -- until you realize just how much they really need, how much it costs, and how much energy went into making it. By choosing gently used secondhand strollers, high chairs, toys, books, and carriers, you can save resources and trim your budget -- think of it as adding to the college fund.
Before you buy any used items, be sure to check for recalls on the products you're considering. Experts recommend never buying a used car seat, and make sure any other items meet the most current standards for safety.
If eBay isn't already your first stop for, well, just about anything, then you might be surprised by the extensive collection of barely used baby gear you'll find there, from bedding and furniture to nursery decorations and strollers.
The handy search feature lets you search for exactly the brand you want, and on many pieces you can choose either the Buy It Now option (to guarantee you get that fought-over Bugaboo) or bid (in hopes of getting a killer deal).
Don't want to worry about winning an auction or negotiating a price with a seller? Rocka-Buy-Gear lets moms list their used items -- furniture, strollers, blankets, toys, DVDs, and more -- for a flat rate; then gives sellers five days to ship the item once it's sold.
The site also donates 2 percent from each sale to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and reviews popular items so you get a parental perspective before you order.
3. Baby Outfitter
Baby Outfitter is the brainchild of Kate Upshaw, a self-described "children's clothing, book, and toy shopoholic" who now sells secondhand everything -- from classic books to swaddling blankets -- and ships them for a flat rate. (She also sells tons of clothes for the chic little weehuggers in your life.)
4. Swap Baby Goods
Swap Baby Goods is set up for parents to list the items their families are finished using for sale -- or for swap. Posters assign each item a value and offer other site users the option of purchasing it or trading for something they need.
The listings, organized by categories like bedding, bouncers & swings, diapering, feeding, furniture, strollers, toys, and more let you navigate the hundreds of items without missing out on what you really need.
New York City-based ReCrib was started by parents who wanted to sell the high-design items they'd invested in for their baby.
Now you'll find cribs from Bloom, Stokke, DucDuc, and NurseryWorks; strollers from Bugaboo, Peg Perego, Maclaren, and Quinny; and furniture from West Elm and Pottery Barn (among others). You can also view the listings on a map to find out where your nearest sellers are; Postings are found across the country.
If you want to avoid paying for shipping -- and calculating the carbon footprint of having your new crib delivered from across the country -- then check Craigslist for baby gear for sale from your neighbhors and other nearby sellers.
You'll find toys and books, dolls and trucks, furniture and strollers, high chairs and mobiles -- and you might even make friends with other local parents when you're dropping off or picking up.
Bonus: The site includes safety and recall alerts at the top of its "Baby and Kid Stuff" listings so you can double check before you buy.
7. Encore Baby Registry
Encore Baby Registry doesn't sell items directly, but it does offer brand-new parents an alternative to traditional store registries. Here's how it works: You create a wish list with everything you want for your baby -- furniture, clothing, toys, strollers -- using the search tool and share it with your friends and family.
But instead of going to just one store to purchase the items, givers are encouraged to wrap up their own used versions of the items -- or get them at a thrift store -- and check off the registry that way. Baby gets everything she needs and you get to feel less guilty about where it all came from: It's a win-win.