Second-hand baby gear: dos, don’ts, and… diapers?
As purveyors of the very best in new baby gear, obviously we would prefer if you purchased every item you need for your baby with us. However, babies are notorious for their effect on your budget, and you’ve got college to save for besides!
So we did some research to see what’s safe to buy used, what isn’t, and what’s questionable. This isn’t a comprehensive guide, and we encourage you to do your own research as well, but this will get you started on your bargain-hunting quest.
While it’s tempting to follow the rationales in this blog, this writer did NOT do her homework! Here are the items you absolutely shouldn’t buy used for your baby.
Cribs: Ok, if your sister bought a crib last year and isn’t using it anymore, and it’s in perfect condition and up to all of the current regulations, sure, take hers! But don’t buy anyone else’s. The current, more stringent regulations really will protect your baby – and her crib is virtually the only place that your child is left unsupervised. Don’t take a chance.
One low-budget tip for new cribs that Parents Magazine offers: get a travel crib or mini-crib! We’ve got plenty that are reasonably priced and perfectly safe.
Crib mattresses: As with the crib, your baby will be spending all of her unsupervised time on this mattress, and newborns sleep as much as 17 hours a day! And older crib mattresses may not be up to current regulations: they may contain nasty chemicals like BPA, PVC, and phthalates, or allergens that you don’t want your baby to inhale, or they may not be firm enough. It’s worth paying a little extra to know exactly what your baby is sleeping on.
Car seats: How do you know if that cool-looking car seat on Craigslist has been in a crash before? You don’t, and that’s why you shouldn’t buy it. The structures within every car seat are key safety features that help to keep your child’s small body protected and cushioned in the event of an impact, and if an impact happens, these structures can get weakened or damaged, making them less effective. Plus, plastics wear out over time, and the worn-out parts may be inside the seat, where you can’t see them.
Breast pumps: There’s a lot to consider with used breast pumps, but since a really good one is costly, and a great breast pump will make it so much easier to keep nursing if you go back to work, it’s worth checking out the pros and cons. We found a thorough guide here.
Baby carriers: Sizing and weight limits make such a difference with carriers! Fully-adjustable carriers like an Ergobaby carrier are your best bet, and don’t forget to check for recalls online before purchasing. Find some good tips on buying a used carrier (and some delightfully random Harry Potter and Tolkien jokes) here.
The ultimate and most obvious baby items to buy used: clothes! Babies grow at a tremendous rate, and adorable infant ensembles may be worn as little as once or twice, or perhaps not even at all, in cases like this one where Mom discovered that keeping her baby in jammies all day every day was easiest, leaving oodles of other sweet little outfits untouched.
Checking used baby clothes for safety is pretty simple: just make sure there’s no choking hazards like drawstrings or unraveling strings, and examine the buttons, zippers, and clasps. And smart bargain hunters will keep an eye out for seasonal items, but keep in mind what age and size your baby will be when it actually gets worn. Remember, babies grow so quickly that a bathing suit made for a 3-month-old will be useless summer doesn’t roll around until your baby is 9 months old.
Cloth diapers: Sure, it may sound weird to purchase an item that another baby has done his business in, but that’s what cloth diapers are for: reusing! Plus, while cloth diapers can save you a serious bundle in the long run, getting all the diapers you need for your baby at the beginning can be a bit of an investment, so why not save a buck or two? As long as they’re cleaned and cared for properly, there’s no reason not to take used cloth diapers on another go-around, and there are passionate communities of cloth diaperers and diaper swappers online. Check out Diaperswappers.com for messageboards and deals, and see what you can save here.
Baby toys: We’d recommend sticking to fairly modern toys if you can, just to make sure they’re up to date on chemicals like PVC, but as long as they’re clean, free of choking hazards, and have no chipped paint, used toys are fine. Do a search for recalls before you give a used toy to your baby!
High chairs: As with any other item, check for recalls, and check for a good safety harness and crotch post, but as long as a high chair is in good condition, it should be fine. A Tripp Trapp lasts virtually forever!
Gliders, dressers, and other nursery furniture: Think of this the same way you’d think of furniture for any other room in your house: if it’s good enough for your bedroom, it’s probably good enough for baby’s. Also, if you’re a DIY type, fixing these items up and making them your own can be lots of fun!
Strollers: As much as it pains us to admit it, yes, you CAN buy a used stroller! Avoid any broken, loose, or missing parts, and give it a test-drive before you buy it, of course; make sure the brakes work properly, check for finger traps and sharp points, and it’s best to make sure the stroller comes with the instruction guide.
Looking for more info on what to buy new and what to buy used? You can find more tips at Treehugger.com, plus a list of sites to look at for used baby gear. We recommend Craigslist because it’s best to go local if you can, so you can actually check the item out in person before you buy. Because even if you’re not doing your stroller test drive with us, trying any stroller out is a must!