There are some parts of the cost of raising kids that you can’t affect.  Others, however, can be significantly reduced by thinking creatively and working with other parents.  One effective (and recently popular) way to get fashionable and affordable clothing for your child is by using trading or swap sites that are coordinated online.  While we haven’t tried all of these personally, here are some of the most notable, along with what they will cost to use.

Three boys

Photo: Lknerl

ThredUp

This site is becoming a force to be reckoned with, offering parents of children in all size ranges an responsible way to recycle their good clothes for something that fits.  The terms of service are simple: order a box of items in your kid’s size for $5 plus shipping, then you send in a box of your own hand-me-downs at your convenience.  If you don’t order anything, you don’t pay, although there is a premium membership option with savings and special perks. (ThredUp is currently only available for U.S.-based parents at this time, although they will work with military families all over the world.)

Extra Benefits: The site is well-made, and listings for each box seem reliable.  You can rank traders based on the quality and trendiness of clothing.  There are also special “Golden Threds” that come up each week that allow a select number of buyers to get boxes of new clothing or accessories (at the same low price.)

Out Growing In

Working almost exactly like ThredUp, this site is also for U.S. only at this time.  The cost, however, is significantly lower (just $3 per box), and the site allows for photos!

Extra Benefits: Looking for a particular brand name?  Sign up for the premium membership (less than $30 a year), and search for just that brand when you pick your next box!

FreeCycle

While it sometimes gets a bad name for being a place where people unload their “junk”, Freecycle still has a place in the world children’s clothing.  To begin, select a group in your area (most freecyclers won’t ship), and start jumping in on items you want to get for free!

Extra benefits:  Since the theme of FreeCycle is to give back, be sure to give away some of your own items, as well.  It doesn’t have to be clothing, so you may end up cleaning out your garage or office of unwanted, but perfectly good, clutter!

Here are some other ways to save online in your search for baby and kids’ stuff:

Honorable Mention:  While technically not an actual swap site, the search engine Ecofreek may point you in the right direction for gently used children’s clothing listed on sites like Craigslist.com.  Since there is the ability to search by country and city/state, it’s a nice option to have in your toolkit, especially if you are not U.S.-based.

What about you seasoned parents?  In addition to getting the random bag of hand-me-downs from family or checking out seasonal yard sale deals, how do you get great clothes for less?