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Baby essentials that you can buy used (and what to buy new)

Buying second hand baby gear or accepting hand-me-downs from family and friends can save you quite a bit of money. From big-ticket items such as cribs and strollers to other must-haves such as clothes and diapers, the number of essentials that you need to buy for your little one can add up quickly, which is why used baby gear and hand-me-downs are so appealing. 

However, not everything is safe for reuse, so you’ll have to part with a bit more money to buy them first-hand. Here is what you can buy used and what you should consider buying new.

Baby items that can be reused

1. Toys

There are all sorts of appealing toys on the market, and if you’re not careful, you may end up spending your hard-earned cash on items that may end up unused. It’s also hard to tell what toys your baby will find appealing, so you may buy expensive toy cars only for your little one to play with the box it came in.

To save yourself from unnecessary spending, consider buying secondhand playthings, or take hand-me-downs from family and friends. Just make sure to thoroughly inspect for loose parts, chipping paints, or sharp edges, and leave behind any toys with small parts that could be choking hazards.

2. Clothes

As an expectant parent, it can be almost impossible to escape the lure of cute new baby clothes. But if you’re on a tight budget, or you just want to be financially responsible, it may be worth considering buying used baby clothes. 

Babies grow at a rapid rate, and you will often find that your little one outgrows an outfit before even getting to wear it. So it may be worth re-using a sibling’s or a friend’s hand-me-downs, or shopping thrift or resale. Just make sure to keep an eye out for drawstrings and loose ties or buttons, which could be choking or entanglement hazards. 

3. High chair

According to voluntary safety standards, a high chair has to have a 3-point harness and a crotch restraint to keep a child in place and prevent them from climbing out or sliding out. If these two features are still in good working condition, a hand-me-down high chair should be fine. That said, you want to steer clear of high chairs which have arms that lift the tray over the baby's head.

4. Baby bathtub

Baby bathtubs should be okay to buy used as long as you check to ensure that there’s no mildew or mold. Babies grow out of bathtubs quite fast, so you should be able to save a couple of bucks on one that was barely used. Just be sure to steer clear of bath rings, bath seats, or inflatable tubs.

5. Changing table

Changing tables can be pricey- why not save money by buying a gently used one. Just be sure to check the one you get to confirm that it has side railings on all four sides and features a safety strap, and keep an eye out for missing parts and chipping paint. 

6. Swings or rockers

Baby swings and rockers are great lifesavers for when you need to put your little one down and get some things done around the house. However, they can be very expensive. To save yourself from the hassle of purchasing one new, consider joining a local Facebook swap group, where you'll likely find gently used swings and baby bouncer chairs still in good condition.

7. Baby monitor

 If you live in a small space, a baby monitor might not be an item that you need to buy. But if you live in a home with multiple levels, a baby monitor is useful to have. Because they’re quite pricey, try to see if you can find baby monitors at a consignment – you could save up to 50% off of retail!

Baby items that you should buy new

1. Crib 

When you become expectant, you will likely get crib offers from friends and family. You may have to turn them down – federal regulations changed in 2011, prohibiting manufactures from producing all kinds of drop-side cribs, which can be incredibly dangerous for babies. If you can't afford a new crib, consider going for a new portable crib – which is less expensive but just safe as a standard one – is a great alternative.

2. Mattress

A crib mattress is best bought new for sanitary reasons. Infants are very messy, and a used mattress most likely contains bacteria from pee, poop, spit-up, or even mold which could make your little one very sick. Older mattresses could also contain chemicals such as phthalates and BPA, which you want to keep away from your baby.

Additionally, crib mattresses can get soft and lose firmness over time, which makes them a suffocation risk. A new firm mattress is ideal as it can help prevent SIDS.

3. Pacifiers 

The rubber in pacifiers gradually its integrity due to wear and tear as well as exposure over time. Second-hand pacifiers can come apart in your baby's mouth, making them a choking hazard. Therefore, choose to buy new pacifiers, not only for this reason but also because used pacifiers may carry lingering bacteria.

4. Stroller

If you plan on getting out and about after having your baby, a high-quality stroller is paramount. While they will set you back a couple of dollars, you must buy strollers new rather than new. This is because these big-ticket items are subject to a lot of recalls – in 2015, new federal guidelines went into effect, requiring manufacturers to minimize risks of stroller-related injuries. Additionally, stroller technology keeps evolving, with new models incorporating more safety features.

5. Car seats

While a car seat is expensive, they’re worth every penny. Just like with strollers, safety standards for car seats change frequently, so a car seat that may have been considered to be safe a couple of years ago may not meet current safety guidelines. Additionally, parts of a car seat wear and tear over time, and may not provide full protection in case of an accident when re-used.

Final thoughts

Buying used baby items and taking hand-me-downs is a great way to save some money. However, because of the ever-evolving recalling list as well as stricter safety standards, not all hand-me-downs/used baby products are safe for a new baby.

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