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Should You Buy New or Used? A Guide to Baby Gear

By WhatToExpect.com

 

From strollers and cribs to clothes and bottles, the amount of stuff your little one requires can add up quickly — but shopping secondhand and welcoming hand-me-downs can save you money as you stock up on baby supplies. That said, while some baby gear is perfectly fine to reuse, for other necessities it’s safer to shell out a bit more money and buy first-hand. Here's when it's safe to buy secondhand and when you should buy new.

Baby Gear to Consider Reusing


Clothes

Buying new baby clothes can be as fun as shopping the racks for yourself! But before you scoop up every adorable item you see, a tip: Your little one is set to gain one pound and lengthen by one inch each month, on average. So save money by re-using a sibling’s or a friend’s hand-me-downs or shopping resale (especially smart with dressy or holiday clothes and shoes that are usually only worn a couple of times). Just be sure your finds don’t have drawstrings, loose buttons or ties, which could be choking or entanglement hazards, and check labels to make sure sleepwear is flame-resistant.

Toys

As you may have learned already, it’s impossible to predict what your baby will enjoy. So go easy on your wallet and take a test drive with secondhand playthings and board books before you buy new. Just be on the lookout for loose hardware or chipping paint, and leave behind anything with small parts that could be choking hazards. Simple toys with few or no moving parts, like blocks, rattles and stacking cups, are consistently safe bets.

Bathtubs

Baby bathtubs are fine to buy used as long as you check to be sure there’s no mold or mildew. Babies grow out of these faster than you can say rubber ducky, so you should be able to save money on one that was barely used. Just be sure to avoid bath seats, bath rings or inflatable tubs that fit in the bathtub, as they can be dangerous.

Changing Table

You can definitely save money by purchasing a gently used changing table. Just make sure the one you get it has side railings on all four sides and comes with a safety strap, and watch out for chipping paint and missing parts. If you’re short on space, you can also buy a changing pad that will turn any corner into a temporary changing station. Don’t forget to stock your changing table (and the hall closet and your diaper bag) with Huggies Diapers and Huggies Wipes. Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers provide outstanding skincare to protect your new baby’s perfect skin, available in preemie and newborn sizes only.

High Chair

Voluntary safety standards require a high chair to have a five-point harness to prevent a child from climbing out as well as a fixed crotch post so he can't slide out. If these two features are accounted for, a hand-me-down high chair is fine. Avoid high chairs with arms that lift the tray over the baby's head.

Baby Gear to Buy New

Breast Pump

Secondhand breast pumps are everywhere. And yes, new pumps are pricey. But a used consumer-grade pump (if it isn’t your own, of course) has the potential for cross-contamination. Risking exposing your newborn to bacteria or viruses just isn't worth it.

Car Seat

While a car seat can cost plenty, this is money well spent. Safety standards for car seats change frequently, and materials — even of the most expensive models — degrade over time. Also, a seat's past history can prevent it from fully protecting your child in an accident. So play it safe and buy new.

Crib

Federal regulations changed in 2011, prohibiting manufacturers from producing drop-side cribs, which can be dangerous for babies and even deadly. You may see them at yard sales, but pass them by. If you can't afford a new crib, a new portable crib — which is less expensive, but just as safe, as a full-size one — is preferable. Everyone will get a better night’s sleep.

Mattress

For sanitary reasons, it’s best to avoid reusing crib mattresses too — it’s guaranteed another baby has peed, pooped and spit up in them, and they can be contaminated with bacteria and mold. Older mattresses sometimes contain chemicals that are best avoided (phthalates, BPA). Plus mattresses get softer with use, and it’s best to always use a firm mattress to help prevent SIDS.

Play Yards

Newer models more likely adhere to safety standards that went into effect on February 28, 2013, which rectify issues with earlier models (like a top-rail hinge that can collapse, putting children at risk of being trapped or strangled).

Strollers

Strollers have evolved a lot through the years, making some considerably safer and more turnkey, according to Consumer Reports’ stroller tests. In fact, new standards went into effect for stroller manufacturers as of September 10, 2015. Considering this is usually the workhorse in your stable of baby gear, ante up for one of the latest models.

Soft Infant Carrier

Strap-on carriers and slings are notorious for recalls, so buy new to ensure that you’re carrying your baby safely — and even then, check that straps, snaps and other closures work as intended.

Tips for Online Shopping

Websites such as Craigslist and eBay are replete with used baby goods. But before you buy, be sure to ask these questions:
• What's the model number? Checking for recalls is job one. For the latest recall information, visit Recalls.gov.
• How much is shipping? Sometimes shipping costs makes a used item cost as much as a new one.
• Does it come with the instruction manual? You need it, to see when the item was made and to ensure proper usage.

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