Buying used baby gear: how to make the right purchase

Getting ready for your new baby can be expensive. From car seats and cribs to diapers and toys, the dollars add up quickly. You may be tempted to buy used items online or accept hand-me-downs from family and friends to save money, but not every secondhand product is safe for your baby. Review our lists before you start shopping.

Our important tip: whether you are buying a new or used baby item, always check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for product recalls.

Baby gear you can consider reusing or buying secondhand (or selling to another family!)

Bathtub: Babies grow quickly so chances are you will be able to find a used baby bathtub in excellent condition. Make sure it is clean with no mold or mildew.

Changing table: You can save money by purchasing a gently-used changing table. Make sure the one you get has a safety strap and look for any missing parts and chipped paint.

Clothes: Since babies grow so quickly, there is a hot resale market for baby clothes so you will find great deals on the racks or online. In addition to the basics, you will save money on special occasion or holiday clothes and shoes that are usually worn once or twice.

High chair: If you find a secondhand high chair, be sure that it has a three-point harness restraint and a fixed crotch post so your baby will be secure in the chair. Avoid the style that has a lift-off tray that goes over your baby’s head. Make sure the high chair is clean and has all necessary parts.

Toys: Buying secondhand toys and books is also budget-friendly. Make sure toys are in good shape and skip toys with small parts that could pose a choking risk. The simpler the toy the better. Plastic toys should be clean and sanitized. Also, some toys made before 1978 may contain lead paint – it’s best to keep those vintage hand-me-downs on the shelf for display.

Before you buy any used baby gear, always ask these three questions:

  1. What’s the model number? Check if the item is being or has been recalled.
  2. Is it in good condition? Make sure the item is not damaged or missing any parts.
  3. Does it come with the instruction manual? You need to confirm when the item was made and review usage guidelines (you might find some instruction manuals online if you have the model number).

Baby gear to buy new

Breast pump: Using a secondhand breast pump is not recommended due to the risk of cross-contamination. Even if you save a few bucks, you will potentially expose your baby to viruses or bacteria. Spend the money on a new breast pump (and check if your insurance will provide a free one).

Car seat: Did you know that car seats and booster seats typically expire after six years? You can find a specific expiration date on the bottom of the seat or on the frame but after that date, the seat can’t be used safely. While car seats can be expensive, don’t skimp on your child’s safety.

Crib: Even if a used crib meets the latest safety standards, it could pose a risk to your child because over time, a crib’s hardware or joints can weaken from use or storage. Don’t forget that older cribs with the drop-side have been prohibited by federal safety regulations, so skip that vintage crib.

Mattress: Along with used cribs, pass on used crib mattresses. There is no doubt that another baby has pooped, peed and spit up on that mattress – the thought of putting your baby on a potentially contaminated mattress should be reason enough to skip it. Older mattresses can get softer with use and using a new, firm mattress can help prevent SIDS.

Playard: Older playard models will likely not meet recent safety standards and could put your child at risk (the style with top-rail hinges can collapse, trapping your child).

Stroller: Your stroller is going to be one of the most used items in your family, so purchasing a new model that meets manufacturer requirements is very important. Your stroller should have proper harness placement and be built of quality materials, ensuring stability on four wheels.