From the minute you announce your pregnancy, it seems that everyone who’s come before you is offering you one thing or another as a hand-me-down. They offer you clothes, toys, activity mats, jumpers, bassinets, and just about everything you can think of related to babies, so it seems you never even have to spend a cent of your own.
Giving and receiving hand-me-downs can be a tricky business, though, as there’s the potential to offend on both sides. With something as personal as baby items, it can be hard not to accidentally be rude or insulting, so you need to tread carefully during the process.
The Hand-Me-Down GiverWe all have that box sitting in the baby’s room getting fuller to the brim each day with clothes that don’t fit, so it’s nice to know that although our little one outgrew their baby clothes as fast as the Incredible Hulk, they won’t just go to waste. Handing down your baby’s clothes can be such a bittersweet experience, but it’s one that will usually be met with gratitude from the person who receives them.
However, keep in mind that when you’re giving gifts you are usually doing so as a kind gesture, so it’s wrong to expect or ask for payment. If you do want to make money from your used baby clothes, try selling them online instead as this will cause less offence than asking your friend for money for something that should have been a gift.
Finally, you should be clear with what you intend for the baby clothes and toys once they’re finished with them. If you’d like them back, there’s no harm in mentioning it. However, most people are happy to pass them on and let their friend do with them as they wish. Make a point of telling them that anything they don’t use can be donated to charity so that there’s no uncertainty about what they should do with the clothes once their baby has outgrown them too.
The Hand-Me-Down ReceiverAs soon as the world knows you’re having a baby, the offers will start coming from friends and family about the hand-me-downs they have for you. Getting quality hand-me-downs can mean saving hundreds to thousands of dollars, so it’s an amazing thing when you are gifted with beautiful and barely worn clothing.
Don’t feel that you have to take everything, though, and if someone is offering you something you already have or simply don’t need, then there’s no harm in thanking them but politely refusing as you don’t have space. Remember that not everything you receive will be to your taste, so ask the hand-me-down giver what they would like you to do with the clothes once you’re done, and simply put aside the clothes you won’t use for now without being offensive.
Keep the clothes in as good quality as you can, and start your own hand-me-down box, which can either be gifted to someone else or kept for your next child, depending on what was discussed. Always check with the giver that it’s okay for you to pass the clothes on once you’re done, just in case they were hoping to get them back.
Some Unspoken Hand-Me-Down Rules
On both sides of the process, there are some unspoken rules about hand-me-downs that cover basic etiquette but could do with reminding. When dealing with something as personal and sentimental as baby clothes, you need to be careful with how you treat them.
• Don’t sell the items – when you’re no longer using them, it’s unacceptable to try and sell someone else’s baby items such as clothes, toys, cots, and prams to make a profit for yourself.
• Only gift clothes in good condition – be meticulous when checking over the quality of the toys and clothes you hand down. Nobody wants to receive dirty, stained, clothes full of holes so throw any away that aren’t in good condition and give them a quick wash before you hand them over.
• Be grateful – the receiver should be grateful that someone has thought enough of them to share their precious baby clothes with them, and a quick thank you card is all it takes to show how much you appreciate it.
• Never assume anything – unless it’s been explicitly agreed upon, don’t assume anything about the clothes. This includes giving them to someone when you’re done, donating them to charity, or holding onto them for your next child.
Our babies grow out of their clothes so quickly, so it’s a blessing to be able to share them with friends and family. As long as everyone is respectful and grateful during the process, hand-me-downs are a wonderful gift for all involved.