Babes in Toyland

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Way back, when a baby was something my wife and I just talked about, I always thought any son of mine was not to be spoiled. While other parents filled bins and buckets with toys their children hardly played with, my son would get along just fine with one or two things: some dirt to smear and maybe something squishy he could chew on. I’d save the spoiling for a daughter.

Hand to heart, we do not spoil the boy, but I realized quickly the need for more than just a few things lying around for him to reach for, and now our house is a lot more colorful than it used to be. In addition to cardboard books for me to slip on and squeaky toys to kick through, strewn about the house are a play mat, a bouncer, a swing, a push-walker, and some sort of hang-y thing in the doorway.

But we need more. I can pile his toys around him and he will pick through them all, tossing them over his shoulders like a crook in a clothes drawer, and be looking for more before I’m able to put the bucket away and sit with him.

There is one place in particular we regularly stalk for used items: a Facebook group page for local parents called Wee Ones Buy and Sell.

The page is updated daily with new items for sale. Parents with a sudden moment of free time post photos of various items for sale, along with punctuation-free, grammar-be-damned captions. And judging by the amount of feet on display, parents don’t have a second moment of free time to crop the frame.

But don’t let typos and toes deter you from gently used items that parents are almost giving away. I’ve seen leaf bags of baby clothing selling for a dollar, stuffed to the brim and stretching the plastic bag to a slightly transparent state — like a hefty bag after a summer family reunion picnic.

Baby items have funny names like Boppy and Bumbo, and if you spend too long on the site you walk away babbling like a fool with a finger at his lips. But there are more translations you need to make on Wee Ones. If you zoom in on a photo of a used Bumbo, those no-fall foam seats for babies, you’ll notice that the caption of “slightly worn” actually means the baby nibbled at the foam with its little mouse teeth. But not so much that it lost its patented no-fall stability.

A baby swing with a motor that needs “minor adjustment” means the parent ignored the swing’s stated weight limit until the motor just clicked in place under the weight of a large baby sprawled in the seat, arms and legs dangling.

Baby Gates: “Great for crawlers!” – bad for climbing toddlers.

Baby monitors: “Needs new batteries” – the rechargeable ones it came with melted and leaked acid while trying to power the screams coming through the speakers.

Car Seat: “Late model” – Expired. But that expiration date is all a gimmick to sell more car seats anyway. The buyer bought it out of date and it has remained that way.

Strollers: “Put to good use” means wobbly, grocery-cart wheels.

Bouncer: “Music box needs reassembly” – after hearing the same trendy tunes for three weeks straight, dad either cut the wires or drowned it. (Or both for good measure.)

Play mat: “Machine washable, no stains.” – bleached until the colors faded and the tags became blank. There is not a used baby item on earth that has remained stain free.

With proper translation, you can scroll right to the good stuff. And on all these items, remember, the “price is firm” – unless you want to negotiate.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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