Toys and Soothers

Another Round of Play

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Swings, bouncy seats and play yards can all be godsends -- if your child likes them. The trouble is, there's no way to know whether she will until you've dragged one home and tried it out. At that point, you've already shelled out a hundred bucks.

So borrow them first, or buy them used. Yard sales or consignment and thrift stores are good sources of cheap, second-hand baby gear. Just be sure to check it against recall lists and clean it well before using.

Your child will not notice that these items aren't brand-new, Liz Weston said. "New toys mean nothing to this kid. Kids don't care if it's new or not. They care if it's interesting or not."

Carrie Hill, a spokeswoman for Moby Wrap baby carriers and the mother of three young children, agreed. "You buy so much with that first kid."

But most of it isn't necessary. "My arms and my sling can do just as well as any stroller or Exersaucer," Jenny McGruther said.

And if you can exercise a little restraint on that front, you'll help the environment in other ways, too. By keeping the clutter down, you might even be able to stay in a smaller house or apartment longer, saving even more money. Housing costs, along with health care and day care, are the big budget busters for most American families.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company