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When I was pregnant with my son, I would peruse registries online while feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
I did my best to prepare to bring our son home: I made lists of which things I needed to bring home from the hospital, attempted to prepare our dogs to welcome a new little person into their home, interviewed pediatricians and daycare providers, and tried to read the right books.
But figuring out which items to spend money on? I had a hard time with that.
I kept wondering: Do I really need all of this? Why does everything cost so much? What if I don’t use it?!
The whole thing was rather daunting.
And it was extra anxiety-inducing when you start crunching numbers.
Because when you’re looking at everything brand new, as opposed to the used baby items, the cost can (and does) add up quickly.
But one thing I would recommend that you check recalls.gov for anything you want to obtain second-hand.
So what used baby items are ok to snag second-hand?
Baby Clothes and Shoes
I’ll be honest here and admit that my kid basically lives in hand-me-downs.
Nearly every single item my son wears came from one of his cousins or from a consignment shop.
Kids grow out of their clothes and shoes so quickly that most of them aren’t so well worn after one child that they can’t be used second-hand.
And second-hand clothing is no more dangerous than new clothes if you’re keeping an eye out – just make sure there aren’t loose buttons or other items that your child could choke on and that there aren’t tassels they can get tangled in.
I love our Diaper Genie. Love, love, love it. Seriously – if you’re not sure if its any more than a glorified trash can – it is. After receiving one from a friend, we ended up purchasing 2 more dirt-cheap from a family online. And often times you can get them with extra bag inserts, since people don’t need them once they don’t need the pail itself.
Your child will outgrow the infant bathtub in the blink of an eye, which means that a second-hand bathtub likely won’t have experienced any hard use. They’re easy to clean and are typically fairly durable, making them safe long term.
Cloth diapering has been around for a long time.
Much like clothing, cloth diapers are great baby items to buy used.
Part of the appeal, afterall, of the cloth diapers is to be cost effective. And cloth diapers can be expensive when you buy them brand new.
We recently found 20 cloth diapers online for free (!!!), so there are deals to be had out there if you keep an eye out.
Since you never leave a child alone (even for a moment) on a changing table, this is ok to buy secondhand. The only thing you really want to make sure of is that the table is sturdy.
Baby monitors can be so expensive, but if you can find a good deal on this used baby item, then it is definitely worth it. Hopefully (not guaranteed), the fact that the monitor survived at least one other child means it still has life left for you. We have twice made the mistake of buying new baby monitors and neither of them lasted very long (third times the charm, right?). So check that the monitor you plan on buying second hand actually works without issue.
If you plan on using a glider or rocking chair in your child’s nursery to help you comfortably soothe your baby, a glider is a great item to get second-hand.
Check that what you’re getting from someone else is new enough, in good condition, and BPA-free. And if you’re not sure which items you want in the first place, you can check out my favorites here.
The biggest thing you’ll want to make sure of if you buy a used stroller is the date it was produced, because a federal safety standard was officially changed in September of 2015. So if you are going to purchase a stroller second-hand, at least make sure it was released after the standard was put into place.
High chairs can be great items snagged second-hand, but you should inspect it closely. Make sure the high chair is in good working order – check for things like stability, a proper way to secure your child, and that there aren’t any safety issues, such as lead paint on antique high chairs.
Pack‘n Plays are great used baby items – if they are in decent shape. At bare minimum, the play yard should be made no later than February 2013, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission increased safety standards. If you elect to get a second-hand play yard, inspect it for damaged poles and tears.
This one is a bummer, but you should likely buying your crib new. There have been so many recalls on cribs that going the route of a second-hand crib requires significant research. You’ll want to check for recalls and make sure that it meets recent safety standards.
Swings and Rockers
Check recalls. I cannot stress this enough, but check the recalls. The one we loved for our son was recalled. Swings and rockers can be wonderful deals, but please check the recalls.
Lightly used toys
Frequently these will be fine but be wary of small parts, chipped, and broken items.
We bought our Ergo used, but baby carriers are really hit or miss. If you select this particular used baby item make sure that you thoroughly inspect the carrier. And check for recalls. You really don’t want to have an unexpected fall from the carrier.
Things you should not get second-hand:
Most people don’t realize that carseats actually have 5 year (from production) expiration dates.
Additionally, you should never use a carseat that has been in a car accident. And if you didn’t own it from the beginning, you’re really taking a gamble as to whether or not the person selling the carseat is being honest. Even if a carseat appears to be in good condition, it does not mean that it is. They also have expiration dates.
In general, mattresses are never a good idea to purchase second-hand. Your baby does not need the germs and potential allergens from another person’s home.
You’re taking a big sanitary gamble if you decide to use a second-hand breast pump. If you’re not using a hospital grade pump, the single-use pumps do not always keep milk from getting into the motor. Which means sharing a pump could mean sharing bacteria with the mom who owned the pump before you. It’s just not worth the gamble.