About Second Hand Baby Gear


Buying or borrowing second hand baby gear can put your baby at risk for injury because the products might not meet current safety standards. There have been great advancements in baby safety over the past 10, 20 and even 30 years.

Don’t assume what you are buying second hand is safe! You don’t know the history of the product and chances are neither does the seller. Ensure all of the manufacturer’s instructions and labeling is still intact and legible. Check to make sure the product hasn’t been recalled BEFORE you take it home. If this means coming back to the store and chancing the product is no longer available, it’s worth it.

Cribs and bassinets are a popular hand-me-down product because they often carry sentimental value if it’s passed down through generations. With the risk of hurting anyone’s feelings, it is really important to check that the crib or bassinet meets current safety standards such as crib slat width and corner post height just to name a few. Hand-me-down cribs and bassinets have a greater chance of missing parts since it’s most likely been reassembled numerous times and traveled.

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Outfitting your baby nursery can cost as little or as much as you deem appropriate. If you are on a tight budget, buying second hand baby gear is a good alternative if you do it safely. Baby gear that can be easily cleaned and meet current safety standards such as clothes, books, or basic toys are great choices to buy or borrow.

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Buying Do’s and Don’ts

Do borrow or buy second hand:

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Maternity clothes
  • Basic toys that are in “like new” condition and can be easily cleaned

Do NOT borrow or buy second hand:

  • Car seats — It is impossible to know the car seat’s history and using one that has been involved in a crash could jeopardize its effectiveness. Most car seats expire about 5 or 6 years from the date of manufacture and using a car seat after it has expired could be dangerous.
  • Cribs — As a general practice, do not use second hand cribs or heirloom cribs handed down from other family members or those purchased at thrift stores or garage sales because they may not meet the most current safety standards or could have missing or broken parts or hardware.
  • Crib mattresses due to sanitary reasons.
  • BreastPump accessories due to sanitary reasons.

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New Crib Safety Standards

Beginning June 28, 2011, all cribs made and sold (including resale through thrift stores and online auction sites, for example) must comply with new and improved federal safety standards, 16CFR 1219 and 16CFR 1220. The new rules, which apply to full-size and non full-size cribs, do not allow the sale of traditional drop-side rail cribs. The standard also increases the testing for crib slats and mattress supports, adds requirements for hardware and requires more rigorous testing.

The new rules also apply to cribs currently in use at child care centers and places of public accommodation, by December 28, 2012. At that time these facilities must use only compliant cribs that meet the new federal safety standards. Some state licensing authorities may require accelerated changeovers.

There has not been a specific “recall” of all drop-side cribs due to the new regulation. Instead, some manufacturers recently have voluntarily recalled their cribs in cooperation with the CPSC and offered various fixes or remedies for particular crib models. Although these recalls are separate from CPSC’s new crib standards, traditional drop-side cribs will not meet the new crib standards that are effective on June 28, 2011, and cribs with traditional drop-sides cannot be sold after that date. JPMA has been certifying to the voluntary standard that eliminated drop side cribs for about a year now. As a result many crib makers stopped making drop side cribs many months ago.

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Saving Alternatives

The average parent can spend as much or as little as they deem appropriate on baby gear. The great thing about being a parent now-a-days is the variety. There are baby products that meet every budget and lifestyle need.

If you are considering buying second hand in order to stay on budget, it’s important to prioritize the baby gear you want to buy new. In an effort to be able to splurge on those new items, try keeping to your budget in other areas such as:

  • Breastfeed vs formula
  • Cloth diapers vs disposable diapers
  • Consider making your own baby food vs buying it
  • Borrow books from the local library vs buying them brand new
  • Register for those big ticket safety items you definitely want new like a crib, car seat, and stroller
  • Look for coupons or rebates through retailers.
  • Find a car seat assistance program through hospitals or local health departments that sometimes provide car seats to families in need.

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The Bottom Line!

Put safety before price- even if it’s the deal of the century! This means inspecting the product in detail. Don’t buy any product if it has loose, missing or broken parts, is moldy, rusty or has anything “out of sorts”.

New products meeting current safety standards are the safest option. However, if it is imperative to use older products, make sure they have not been recalled, meet current safety standards and have all the manufacturer instructions and labeling requirements. Most importantly, err on the side of caution and safety and use your best judgment if you must buy second hand baby products or take hand-me-downs. If you are unsure of the safety of any used baby product, it's better to buy new or seek an alternative.

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