I have just one regret from my first year of motherhood – and that’s that I didn’t discover The Octopus Club sooner.
When preparing for my own newborn, I was on a bit of a high; purchasing expensive Scandinavian knitwear and babygrows that would, eventually, be worn just the once. Every piece of furniture that I bought was brand new and every tiny pair of socks pristine and unworn.
Far from preparing for a newborn on a budget, I did – with retrospect – waste a silly amount of money during those early days.
Thankfully, now 12 months into parenthood, I’m not only realising the error of my ways, but have come across an incredible number of platforms that make preparing for a newborn on a budget both easy and fun.
As preloved fashion moves from niche to mainstream, buying secondhand no longer harbours connotations of tired car boot sales or stuffy charity shops. Instead, it is a fast-moving world of big names, premium labels and endless variety.
Saving you money, encouraging sustainability and helping keep your home free of clutter and barely worn clothes, there really is no reason to have to buy new anymore (particularly when it comes to items for fast growing and fickle babies).
Converted to the idea of preloved rather than once loved? Then why not start your journey with the brilliant, The Octopus Club.
What Is The Octopus Club?
The Octopus Club was launched by Ana in the summer of 2020 (e.g. the height of lockdown 1.0).
Tired of a house brimming with rarely used and outgrown baby paraphernalia, Ana decided that there must be another way to shop secondhand for your little one (without spending hours embroiled in online bidding wars, or trawling charity shops). Aware that there must be millions of other parents in her position, Ana decided to create a peer-to-peer marketplace where families could pass on child and baby items, before welcoming other preloved items into their home.
With no selling or joining fees, this would be a secondhand marketplace rooted in – as Ana put it – kindness.
And so, just like that, The Octopus Club was born.
How Does The Octopus Club Work?
An online platform, The Octopus Club gives you three options: buy, sell or give (e.g., donate).
Signing up is quick and easy (you can do it here), and you are then immediately ready to start selling, buying or donating your items.
Built around transparency, users are encouraged to message one another when interested in items and to foster a sense of community based around mutual support and a dedication to rehoming, rather than buying new.
A number of postal and shipping services are recommended, but if you want to save both time and money, you can set your search to only include local sellers.
Encouraging sellers to always include a little note when sending their parcels (after cleaning their items thoroughly, of course), this is a warm online community built around likeminded families, sharing and recycling.
What’s Available on The Octopus Club?
The Octopus Club is conveniently divided into different sections: Care, Feed, Move, Organise, Play, Read, Sleep and Wear.
Alternatively, just hit the ‘everything’ option for a good old browse of all that’s on offer.
Having spent the last few days browsing the Club, I can confirm that there are some fantastic items to be had, including many premium brands such as Ergobaby, Newbie, Elvie, The White Company, Baby Bjorn and Silver Cross.
There are also some lovely nursery furniture items on offer, which I really wish I’d seen when putting together Henry’s room (I spied, for example, a nearly new Snuzpod for just £45 and a Sleepyhead Grand for £20 – an absolute bargain).
The Challenge: Preparing for a Newborn on a Budget with The Octopus Club
After getting to know The Octopus Club a little better, we decided to ask the founder, Ana, if she could help us with a challenge. Could she source the majority of things you’d need for a newborn using The Octopus Club alone?
Of course, this wouldn’t include all items – it’s advised you buy carseats new, for example. However, these odd items aside, could you prepare for your newborn just by shopping on The Octopus Club?
Ana believed so.
Including options for various cots, carriers, buggies, toys, bottles, sleeping bags and play gyms, below is a huge haul of preloved items that most parents would need to buy ahead of the arrival of their new baby.
And the best part? You could get all of this for just £150. Considering that the average parent spends £6,000 in the first year of their baby’s life – this is a phenomenal saving.
Below are a few of Ana’s suggestions, which – we hope – will give you a taste of what you can find on The Octopus Club.
1. Secondhand Moses Baskets and Bedside Cots from £30
Perhaps one of the most fundamental purchases when it comes to preparing for your newborn is a cot or Moses basket.
Add to this the sheer number of cots and bassinets currently on the market (all proclaiming to be the safest, or the most sleep-inducing) and you’ll be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to buying your own.
On The Octopus Club, you’ll find some of the biggest cot and crib brands, including Snuz Pod, Snoo and Chicco, alongside your traditional Moses baskets and travel cots.
We just had a quick peek and found two coveted Snoo cribs on there (usually worth £1,145) for £700.
2. Secondhand Clothes for Newborns up to 3 Months from £3
I’ll admit, when it came to preparing for the arrival of my newborn, I lost the plot a little when it came to buying clothes.
I bought a colossal amount – a silly amount, if I’m honest. Furthermore, these weren’t cheap items, either. Vaguely mesmerised by the wholesome, Australian aesthetic that has been so popular on Instagram lately, it was perhaps inevitable that my tiny newborn would be wearing thickly knitted fisherman jumpers, paired with sustainably made cotton socks.
However, once Henry arrived, I quickly lost interest in dressing my baby like a Scandinavian fisher-boy. I was instead focused on survival. As such, those delicately made jumpers were discarded under piles of stained clothes and breast pads.
If I had my time again, I’d instead focus on buying simple and practical baby clothes (I love TU babygrows from Sainsburys) and purchasing anything that little more ‘special’ secondhand.
Again, The Octopus Club is a fantastic place to find these sorts of clothes – with some big label items going for as little as £3.
Having a browse through the platform, I found clothes by Boden, Joules, Zara Baby and GAP – with many items costing a tenth of the price of what I bought them for.
3. Secondhand Baby Sleeping Bags from £4
I praise the day that someone invented the humble sleeping bag.
Easing any fears regarding loose blankets or possible suffocation risks, sleeping bags are warm, easy to use and allow your baby lots of mobility, all whilst staying cosy.
However, dependent on what TOG you go for, sleeping bags do not come cheap. We have a few, that range from £65 (merino wool) for the winter and lighter sleeping bags, from Love To Dream, which still cost around £25 each.
One positive thing about the sleeping bag is that they do have a slightly longer shelf-life than swaddles, from example. Henry is currently in one that accommodates babies from 6 – 18 months, through the use of a clever popper system. Consequently, I’d say it’s therefore definitely worth investing in a slightly higher quality sleeping bag, made from perhaps cotton or merino wool.
The Octopus Club has plenty of these for sale, including some of my favourite brands such as Baby Mori, Grobag and Ergopouch.
4. Secondhand Baby Bouncers from £15
I can finally (and triumphantly say) that this is one baby item that we did buy secondhand.
Whilst not initially preparing for a newborn on a budget, I quickly realised a few weeks into Henry’s arrival just how fickle babies can be. Prior to his grand entrance, we had committed to buying quite an expensive, sophisticated baby ‘soother’ (rather than bouncer), which – predictably – he despised.
Tearing our hair out as to just what we should do with a baby when they weren’t being held, I quickly looked on my local Facebook Marketplace and snapped up the first bouncer I could find – for just £10.
It turned out to be one of my best purchases to date.
The Octopus Club has plenty of like-new bouncers available, including our favourite – the Baby Bjorn Bouncer. Likewise, there are plenty of bouncers for older babies – including every parent’s favourite – the Jumperoo (the one I spied was just £20).
5. Secondhand Baby Bottles from Free
When it comes to buying bottles secondhand, there are, of course, guidelines to follow.
On the whole, you only want to be buying unopened or unused bottles. If the bottles have been trialled once or twice, replace the teats and ensure all are thoroughly sterilised before use.
However, if you’re happy with all of the above, then you can find some fantastic deals on The Octopus Club.
One thing I didn’t know before having my own baby was that it’s recommended that you replace your bottles every four months. As you can imagine, the cost of replacing these quickly adds up.
Our personal preference for bottles are the self-sterilising MAM bottles – which whilst fantastic, still cost £20 for three. Thankfully, I’ve already discovered a whole hoard of unopened MAM bottles on The Octopus Club, with one seller offering four bottles for just £14.
6. Secondhand Changing Bags from £15
For reasons I can’t quite explain, I was incredibly excited by the prospect of purchasing a changing bag. I’d quietly coveted one, pre-baby, for quite some time; impressed by their practicality and multitude of pockets.
When my time finally came to genuinely need one, I was, predictably, ecstatic; feverishly searching for the best nappy bag that money could buy.
As it turns out, you’d need quite a lot of money to buy some of those bags.
With the fashionable brands such as Tiba + Marl and Storksak selling bags for a whopping £140, I struggled to comprehend why someone would pay so much for a bag that would largely house dirty nappies. In the end, we therefore settled on a recycled bag by Done By Deer, which we found in the sale.
If you’re preparing for a newborn on a budget, I’d therefore highly recommend getting a preloved nappy bag. The Octopus Club has many entirely new bags, with tags still intact, for just a fraction of the price of those found on the high street.
After a little browsing on the site, I did in fact purchase a beautiful Jem and Bea leather changing bag for £65, with the usual RRP costing over £140.
7. Secondhand Baby Gyms & Play Mats from £10
Although already a distant memory, there was a time when Henry would simply enjoy lying motionless on his play mat, gazing up at a collection of coloured, jingling toys.
It was a peaceful and easy time. Not that I knew it then, of course.
We had two different play mats and gyms for our baby – with one geared towards tummy time and sitting, as he got a little older. However, and as well used as they were, he grew out of them within a matter of weeks; instead preferring crawling and playing with the washing machine.
Given the fleeting amount of time your baby will probably engage with a play mat or gym, it goes without saying that you’d be best off buying one secondhand.
The Octopus Club currently has both play mats that we had for Henry – one from Little Dutch and the other (more activity based) mat from Skip Hop. Both are being sold for nearly £35 less than what we paid for each.
8. Secondhand Buggies and Prams from £60
One of the biggest financial outlays when it comes to preparing for your newborn is, of course, the pram.
Gone are the days when a baby would be slung in well-worn buggy handed down from your aunt – today babies ride around in veritable super cars. Indeed, cruising the pavements in £800 carriages, complete with coffee cup holders and ergonomic head rests, these rides can rival second hand cars when it comes to price (it’s estimated that the average family will spend at least £340 on a new pram).
Again, we learnt the hard way when it came to buying our pram – failing to think any further ahead than the first few months of our baby’s life. However, had we done this, we’d have realised that after ten short months, our baby would no longer need the tank-like pram we’d purchased.
Furthermore, we’d no longer have the patience to dismantle a giant pram before having to heave it in and out of our car boot.
Our advice? Save the money you’d spend on a pram for a holiday instead. On The Octopus Club, you’ll find every brand of pram going, including Babyzen Yoyo (the hottest pram around at the moment), Bugaboo, Joie and Nuna.
9. Secondhand Baby Carriers and Slings from £10
If there was one item that saw me through those tough newborn days, it was my baby sling. From dawn until dusk, I wore this as Henry snoozed against my chest. Refusing to be trapped under a newborn all day, I’d strap him to me as I did the washing up or, dare I say it, used the bathroom.
As well as a fabric sling for the home, we also invested in a particularly expensive BabyBjorn One carrier, for when we were outside. Although this was a much used item of mine, I think this is another thing that I should have definitely bought secondhand. Providing it was safe and secure, I had little preference as to whether or not my sling had had a previous tenant.
Both the popular Freerider sling, and the more structured BabyBjorn carriers, can be bought on The Octopus Club marketplace for a fraction of their original price.
10. Secondhand Wooden Baby Toys from £3
With your once calming and tastefully decorated home now piled high with obnoxiously loud plastic toys, parents quickly learn the error of their ways when it comes to purchasing these items.
Perhaps this is a bold statement, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from a year of parenting, it’s that buying new baby toys is a colossal waste of money. Quickly discarded for a remote control, baby toys are not something worth investing a lot of money in.
Instead, opt to buy some more durable and sustainable wooden toys (from just £3) on The Octopus Club. The best bit? When your baby grows out of them, simply pass them on to a new owner.