Thursday, December 29, 2005

Borrowing Baby Items

One of the first lessons you learn as a parent-to-be is that it is expensive to have children! You have not even gotten to paying for college, sending them to summer camp, or buying a car, and already you feel as if you are broke from this baby. One way to get around this dilemma is to borrow some old baby things. You probably know a couple of people who have had babies recently or know of a relative who never got rid of her baby's clothes. Borrowing is a good way to save on the expense, but keep these etiquette tips in mind.

First, you can ask someone to have her old baby clothes and toys, but be sure that you fit one of these categories. You can ask close friends and family members really easily. Just call up and ask if they have any of Katelyn's baby things that they do not mind if you use. Explain that you will take good care of them and then give them back. If you want to know about the woman in the playgroup whose son has the cutest clothes but do not know her well enough, bring it up in casual conversation. Ask what she will be doing with Shane's things now that he is getting bigger. She may be perfectly willing to let you borrow them, or even to give you some of his things, but did not know how to approach it with you. Keep the tone casual, and you could walk away with some nice baby items without spending anything from your dwindling bank account.

If you do borrow, be sure to take extra special care of everything. Some clothing items will get ruined; it is just part of having a baby. Most people do not want clothes back, however. They are small and inexpensive, and unless Mom finds out that she is having an unexpected addition, she probably will have no problem with you keeping the clothes. Still, be sure that you verify before you borrow so that there are no problems later and ask her if she would like to keep a few pieces for mementos. You do not want her to give you items that have sentimental value. Give them back now. On the other hand, items such as strollers or cribs are larger and more expensive. Mom probably expects that either you give them back so that she can use it or pass it around again or that you pass it on when you are done so that more moms can get good use out of it.

Shoes and undies are two items you should not take. Chances are that you will use disposable diapers, so the underwear will not be an issue. Do not take cloth diapers, however. They are pricey if you buy good ones, but your child needs his or her own. As your baby gets older, avoid taking underwear from other moms who are getting rid of it. Your child also will need his or her own shoes. These items are rife for bacterial growth and also tend to warp to the shape of the person's foot who is wearing them. Your child could end up with uncomfortable feet if you give her old shoes.

All of these suggestions are great, but what if someone offers something you do not want? You can make an excuse, such as, "oh, I already have a mobile." Thank the person for her generosity and move the conversation along. If you are turning it down because you really have it already and not because you think it is atrocious, then you can try to suggest someone else who may want it.

Remember that other moms, no matter how affluent they appear, are just as strapped for cash as you are. At the very least, they understand the expense of outfitting the first baby, and the community of motherhood makes those other moms perfectly willing to help you out. You will that having a baby puts you in connection with other women who would not have been part of your circle before children. The children, however, give you something incredible in common. After all, you are all in this motherhood gig together!

By Julia Mercer

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