Having a baby is a big financial undertaking for a family and costs can add up quickly if you’re not sure what to expect. Diapers, crib, car seat, formula, toys… the list goes on! It can be overwhelming, especially considering that many items will be outgrown quickly. Global News estimates that parents can expect to spend $80 per month on clothing in their baby’s first year. They also note that this estimation is based on data from the United States where clothing is notoriously cheaper than in Canada - meaning that the cost will likely be higher.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that Canadian infant and children’s clothing sales amounted to 3.35 billion in 2019. That’s not a small number! Smart Parent Advice ballparks that newborns can go through 3 to 7 outfits a day and 1 - 3 month olds can go through 2 to 7. This adds up to a lot of clothes - and a lot of laundry!
This huge baby clothing market is reflective of the widespread consumption of clothing in Canada. Canadians on average purchase 70 new articles of clothing a year which heavily contributes to the 12 million tons a year of textile waste dumped into North America's landfills.
It’s not your fault that your baby will go through so much clothing. They grow quickly and it can be hard to plan for what they might need. This also unfortunately means that the clothing you only recently bought can quickly become unusable. As many parents are facing this same issue, the resell value for perfectly reusable clothes has become dismally low. Just searching “baby clothes” on Facebook Marketplace offers large bundles where jumpers and onesies are being offered for less than $1 per item. The resale process can be tedious and means that you’ll be storing all of the outgrown clothing until you can pass it along.
As an expecting parent, you’re likely crunching the numbers and figuring out where to splurge and where to save. So, what can you do as a parent to save on costs and ditch the overconsumption?
1. Take in allllll the hand me downs
Many friends and family will be happy to pass down secondhand clothing for free. This might add some labour to your plate to go through pieces to decide what fits you and your baby’s needs but the cost-savings are unmatched!
2. Buy second hand
While the onslaught of baby clothes available for resale can be a negative if you’re a seller, it can be great if you’re a buyer! Facebook Marketplace and local thrift stores and consignment shops can offer great bargains and still contribute to a culture of reuse.
3. Use a rental service
Rental services are the holy grail for avoiding the pitfalls of options 1 and 2. They take away the time suck of dealing with finding clothing and the issue of what to do with it when your baby grows at lightning speed. You get exactly what you need and can enjoy high quality pieces for a fraction of the retail price while keeping clothes out of the landfill.
Tradle is a baby clothing rental service based out of Vancouver, BC offering high quality clothing from Canadian brands to families across Canada. The service offers two subscription models. You can order a half wardrobe bundle that offers 12 items for $50/month or a full wardrobe of 24 items for $95/month. If these items were purchased new from the brands Tradle partners with - Simply Merino, Jax & Lennon, Parade and more - a half bundle would cost about $420 and a full bundle would be $840 (calculated as each new item costing $35). The bundle includes unlimited exchanges to keep up with your baby’s style and preferences, and not to mention free shipping.
Rental models offer the opportunity to get higher quality clothing while supporting local businesses. For every $100 spent at local businesses, $68 stays in the local economy - but only half that ($34) stays when shopping at big-box chain stores.
Overconsumption (and overspending) is out of style. Subscription services provide you with exactly what you need, takes away unnecessary shopping stress and leaves you more time to play and snuggle with your little one.
4. Rally your community
We often feel like we need to do it all alone but there is strength in numbers. Your community wants to support you, especially during a major event like welcoming a new baby into your life. Crowdfunding for something like baby clothes might feel awkward, but it can be done for major events like birthdays or baby showers.
Tradle offers a gifting platform through their website. You can set up a clothing registry, share with family and friends and then upload photos, stay connected and thank your entire community with the occasional growth spurt updates. It is an easy way to get support from your community towards clothing for your children’s first years.
Saving money often actually means reducing your environmental impact. There are multiple options that allow you to pick what’s right for your family and little one. Share your favourite thrifty tricks for baby clothes down in the comments.