When you’re buying baby gear, you can buy new or secondhand. There are pros and cons for each option. One of the big pros of buying secondhand baby gear is of course that the price is lower. With babies changing so quickly and outgrowing different types of gear so rapidly, that can be very appealing.
While some items are fine to buy secondhand, there can be safety issues with others. For example, there are a lot of limitations on when baby walkers should be used and how, to the point that many recommend not using them at all. Even with the potential risks, 2,000 children per year continue to seek emergency treatment for injuries related to baby walkers.
Due to the risks of this type of baby equipment, not only is there a recommendation against using them but some call for a complete ban and action to be taken from state legislators.
So what are the risks of buying secondhand baby gear, and when is it okay versus not?
Why Can Secondhand Baby Gear Be Risky?
Baby gear is made to adhere to strict safety standards. However, those standards can change quickly, and something that may have been seen as safe just a few years ago might not meet the necessary standards anymore.
When you buy secondhand, you may not be assured you’re getting the safest type of equipment.
There’s also the fact that manufacturers may issue recalls for different defects or issues with baby equipment. If you buy secondhand, you may not be aware of these recalls, and you may purchase and use something defective.
Another reason that you might want to rethink buying at least some things secondhand is that you don’t know what substances were used in the home where it originated from. For example, maybe something was exposed to smoke in a previous home, and that could then expose your baby to what’s called thirdhand smoke.
You have to consider these risks with not just buying secondhand but also taking items that a friend or family member wants to hand down to you.
What Not to Buy Secondhand
The following are things you should not buy secondhand for your baby:
- Crib mattress: Buying a second-hand crib mattress might not necessarily be as dangerous as buying something like a car seat secondhand, but still if possible, it’s better to buy this new. Crib mattresses can hang on to secondhand smoke as well as things like bacteria and mold.
- Car seats: Baby car seats aren’t sold at secondhand stores, and if you come across one elsewhere, don’t buy it. Car seats are the most important piece of safety equipment you’ll buy for your new baby, and the safety regulations and standards can change quickly. Car seats also have an expiration date that’s usually anywhere from six to nine years after their manufacture date.
- Cribs: A crib can be a pricey investment, but it also needs to meet the most updated safety standards. Like car seats, you’re not going to find a secondhand crib in a store, although you may see one somewhere else such as a yard sale or online. Certain styles of cribs are altogether banned, such as the drop-side crib, and if you get one from a friend or family member it might not only be unsafe by today’s standards but possibly missing important pieces impacting the structural integrity.
- Breast pumps: Again, unfortunately, breast pumps are a pricey baby item, but buying one secondhand could expose your baby to illnesses. Rather than buying a secondhand pump, you can contact your local hospital or healthcare supplier and see about renting one.
What Can You Buy Secondhand?
While some of the more expensive items, unfortunately, should be purchased new, there are some baby items that you can buy secondhand.
One example is clothes. This is good because babies outgrow clothes quickly, and you can easily wash them and make sure they’re clean on your own. You can reasonably buy a secondhand changing table, and the same goes for a high chair as long as it has a three-point harness and a restraint between the legs.
You might be able to find a good deal on a used stroller, and if you can get one that was made after 2015, even better because that’s when new standards went into place for stroller manufacturers.
When you buy anything for your baby, check to see if there have been any manufacturer recalls because this can happen with even new products. If you register your items with the manufacturer, then they can alert you if there are safety issues or recalls.