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Swap Your Baby Stuff Online

When Darcy Cruwys was pregnant, she and some old friends living in other states began shipping maternity clothes to one another. Later they shipped kids' clothes. “I saved a ton of money,” Cruwys says. The experience was so positive, in fact, that she has set up her own online baby-stuff exchange: Swapmamas.
Parents have always relied on clothing and equipment hand-me-downs as a way to keep up with their babies' growth spurts. Online recycling sites have made the circle of givers much bigger. And with the economy and the environment in such bad shape, that’s welcome news.

While eBay and Craigslist are obvious places to turn when Baby is too big for her swing or needs a new high chair, parents are also using targeted sites. Swapbabygoods, for example, is restricted to baby and mommy items only. Swaptree specializes in books, music, movies and games. [See the next page for details on a range of swap sites.]

Not all sites traffic in straight swaps. Handmedowns is a monitored clearinghouse for classified listings in 30 different locations – you can buy, sell, or donate goods from coupons to clothes. But on some, like Swapmamas and Kizoodle, no money changes hands; if you don’t find something you want to trade for, you accrue credits for future swaps.

Sometimes swaps happen unconventionally. Swapbabygoods, like many of these sites, has community boards. In a discussion about making your own laundry detergent (cheaper and just as effective as store-bought, moms reported), one mom said she couldn’t find an ingredients and another offered to send it to her as a swap.

Of course, swapping a large item like a crib with someone across the country is impractical. That's one reason for the rise in local swap options - many are part of local parent groups' online hubs. San Francisco mom Sarah wanted a different baby bathtub; she posted hers on the local parents' site and traded it for a model that suited her better. “You get things, use them (or don't) and then pass them on through these online communities, and that's pretty great,” she says. And Brooklyn mom Barbara has gotten a wooden rocking horse and a cardboard playhouse through a local Yahoo parents group.

Cruwys says that she’s been “blown away by the generosity” of Swapmamas participants, many of whom have just given things away. “There are people out there that really want to help people, especially during these hard times, and this is a supereasy way to do that.”

Next: Read our Swap Sites roundup