Unloading Baby Gear


    A mom asks about the ethics of selling hand-me-down baby clothes.

    Dear Miriam,

    My sister-in-law gave me an entire hand-me-down wardrobe for my baby boy, all in great condition, and made it clear she doesn't want them back. Many of the clothes turned out to be for the wrong season for his size, however, and he's not going to get to wear them. I'm on an email list for local parents, and someone recently posted that she's looking to buy used clothes for her baby boy. Can I sell clothes that I didn't buy? 

    Unloading Baby Gear

    Dear Unloading,

    Theoretically, the goal of selling unwanted goods is to make back some of the money you spent in the first place and put the proceeds towards buying new goods. Payment can also be a substitute for other kinds of value, so if you want to make sure you're giving the clothes to someone who'll appreciate them, charging for them is one way to do that.

    However, since you didn't pick these clothes out in the first place, I doubt you have much emotional attachment to them. You'll still need clothes for your son to wear, so why not organize a swap? Since you're already on a parent list, you could create a simple invite for a low-key meet-up for people to trade unwanted baby goods. It's a great way to feel like your things are going to good use while also getting some new things yourself.

    If you really feel like selling them is the way to go, you need to talk to your sister-in-law. Tell her that you've enjoyed and appreciated the hand-me-downs, but haven't been able to use all of them. Say, "I may have an opportunity to sell some of them, and I was wondering if you'd like me to handle that transaction for you." She may say, "Great, you can just send me a check for whatever you get." More likely, she'll say something like, "Go ahead and sell them, but don't worry about paying me back." 

    Or, she may request that you give the clothes to someone in need who would truly benefit from the hand-me-downs. If that's her reaction, I would strongly encourage you to check out Philadelphia's Family to Family. This amazing nonprofit, founded by former Har Zion member Julie Shore, has already helped more than 110 babies since December 2013. In addition to clothing, they can always use burp cloths, strollers and bouncy seats, as well as monetary donations and volunteer hours. A complete list of what they accept is available on their Facebook page. Most of their donations as well as their requests for help have come through word of mouth and social media, and I'm happy to do some small part here to raise awareness of a great way to get unwanted baby items out of your house while also doing a mitzvah. 

    Here's one more suggestion to bring this all together: Sell the clothes, then write a donation check with the money you make. You and your sister-in-law are both free of goods you don't want, someone who's specifically looking for these types of clothes will be able to use them and a deserving organization will also benefit.

    Be well,