Kids grow very fast, so sometimes it can seem like they need a whole new set of accessories for each season, assuming you live in a place where the seasons change.
For cold winter climates, hats, gloves and scarves are required. Then, spring showers bring rain boots and rain coats, while fall means new back-to-school clothes and lightweight jackets. Finally, come summer, the season of swimsuits begins.
The good news, however, is that there are ways that parents can cut the costs of these seasonal accessories. So, since we're now deep into summer, here's a look at seven budget-friendly ways to outfit children for the summer sun.
Go for swimsuits that can grow with your child. One way to save on swimwear is to buy suits that can last more than one season. Since little swimsuits tend to run small and kids grow fast, this means skipping the suit in your child's regular clothing size and instead buying a suit two or so sizes up. It's also a smart idea to look for styles that can grow with little ones in other ways, such as girl suits with adjustable straps or boy suits with drawstring waists.
Cross cover-ups off your list. Instead of buying your children special cover-up outfits to wear over a bathing suit at the beach or pool, simply cover them up in clothes you already have around the house (think a casual dress, a long t-shirt, or shorts and a t-shirt).
Consider reusable swim diapers. You can buy a reusable swim diaper and a pack of disposable diapers for roughly the same price. However, if your little one is going to be swimming a lot this summer, or at least spending hours in his or her suit, you may want to invest in a few reusable styles rather than their disposable counterparts. Not only can this purchase potentially save you from having to buy loads of replacement disposables, you'll also be able to use the reusable diapers for more than just swimming. For girls, for instance, they can double as under-a-dress diaper covers.
Skip the fancy baby sun blocks. While it's important to put sun block on your child regardless of the season, it's especially important during the summer when more of your little one's skin is exposed. But before you drop $20 or more for one of those fancy brands that many pediatricians recommend, you may want to visit your local drugstore instead. It turns out that many of the reasonably priced brands (like Neutrogena) offered at drugstores are perfectly safe for your child's skin.
Think quality when it comes to sunglasses. Little sunglasses are an accessory you'll want to invest in, since buying that cute and cheap pair may actually cost you more in the long run. It turns out sunglasses without UVA/UVB protection can potentially increase the chance of vision problems, like cataracts, down the road. So, make sure the sunglasses you buy your young one block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. In addition, to reduce the chances of having to buy replacement pairs, you'll also want to opt for sunglasses that are flexible and sturdy, so they can survive being thrown on the ground by little hands.
Know where to buy kids' sandals for less. Instead of shelling out for that full-price pair of cute kid Crocs, know where to find them -- or your favorite little sandal of choice -- for less. If you like name-brand sandals, you'll want to bookmark Zulily, a daily deal site for moms, babies and kids, where you can find flash sales on a host of sandal styles. Meanwhile, you also often can find great deals on shoes at retailers, including Walmart.com, Zappos.com, Diapers.com, Amazon.com and Target, when you check out the clearance and sale sections.
Cover your child's head using cost-saving approaches. If you have a favorite sun hat brand, check the company's site to see what kind of deals they're offering. I personally love the sun hats by the Sunday Afternoons brand, and the company thankfully offers a generous sale section on its site with some of its cute children's hat styles at roughly half price. Meanwhile, here's another cost-saving approach to consider: If you have extra adjustable adult hats around your house, check to see if you can make them small enough to cover your child's head. And if it turns out they fit, just make sure they provide appropriate shade over your child's face and neck.
What tips for saving on kids' summertime accessories did I miss? Share your favorites below.
Jennifer Saranow Schultz, formerly the "Bucks" blogger for The New York Times and a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, shares daily hints to help make parenting easier and cheaper at HintMama.com, on Twitter at @HintMama and on Facebook at Facebook.com/HintMama.
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