Babies outgrow things at lightning speed. Those adorable designer brand moccasins? Don’t count on your fashionista wearing them more than twice before it’s time to move up a size. The expensive infant carrier that your baby rejected immediately? The wipes warmer you never took out of the box? Most parents wind up with barely-used clothes, gear, toys, furniture, and accessories, which is why sites and social media venues like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Poshmark, and Craigslist are flooded with used baby items for sale.
Between hand-me-downs from friends, your local “Buy Nothing” or “Swap” Group, or various online outlets selling second hand goods, there are tons of ways to buy (and sell) used baby items for a fraction of the cost. Plus, you can picture the planet doing a little happy dance every time!
But...a word of warning! While you can snag great deals on almost anything, not ALL baby items should be purchased second hand. Here are tips on how to be a savvy AND safe thrifter.
Play it safe. Never, ever buy these items used:
Car seats: Due to constantly evolving safety standards, yearly technology upgrades, strict expiration dates, and materials that degrade over time, experts recommend splurging on a brand new car seat for your little cruiser.
PS: Once your kiddo grows out of their current car seat, check out Target’s and Walmart’s car seat trade in programs. While these events only last for specific time periods during the year, it’s worth saving your seat until the next one rolls around.
Strollers: Ditto on ALL the above! It’s best to purchase a new stroller to ensure you receive a safety compliant product with no wear and tear from another family’s use.
Cribs and crib mattresses: 2011 introduced a slew of new safety standards for crib manufacturers (meaning any crib made before 2011 is out of bounds). Even if a crib was made post-2011, it’s still safer to buy new. Used cribs are prone to weakened hardware and structural integrity, posing a major safety hazard for your tiny tot. And for sanitary reasons, it’s best to purchase a shiny new crib mattress, too!
We know these baby gear items can really add up! If you are a budget-conscious parent-to-be, consider adding these items to your registry as a “group gift” so multiple friends and family can contribute. And keep an eye out for seasonal or holiday sales whenever you’re in the market for a high-ticket item.
Score a deal with second hand (but only after you’ve done your homework!):
Baby furniture and accessories (changing tables, activity centers, high chairs, rocking chairs, playpens, carriers): In most cases, it’s fine to source these products second hand. But, buyer beware! After gathering all details from the seller or gifter (the item’s full name, model number, date of manufacture, etc.), visit recalls.gov or the Consumer Product Safety Commission's list of recalls to ensure it meets current safety standards.
Baby Toys: Since most toys can be washed and disinfected in hot soapy water, this is another smart second-hand purchase. Just avoid any vintage toys, as they could contain chipped, lead paint or wobbly parts. For your own peace of mind, be sure to check it out via an online recall finder. And when in doubt, contact the company. Better safe than sorry!
Baby Clothes: Coats, shoes, hats, onesies, socks, swaddles. Babies are lucky if they get more than a few uses out of their threads before it’s time to size up. For this reason, you can feel confident about buying or accepting (gently used) baby clothes. Be sure to inspect them for loose buttons and seams, and ALWAYS give them a thorough wash before putting them on your wee one (just as you would with brand new baby clothes!).
BONUS TIP - Be a smart thrifter and try to get answers to these questions:
“When was the item purchased, and how long was it used?” Try to glean as much information about the history of the item as possible.
“What is the full product name or model number?” With this information, you can look up any item on recalls.gov or the Consumer Product Safety Commission's list of recalls before you seal the deal (please do!).
“Does it include the instruction manual?” For any accessory, like a baby carrier or baby bouncer, you’ll want to have the official product information and instructions on hand. Sometimes you can find these online, too.
“Does the item come from a smoke-free/pet-free home?” Very important questions to ask, especially if there’s an allergy in the family. If picking up an item locally, be sure to give it the “smell test” before you commit.
What are your tips and tricks for buying second hand? Let us know in the comments below!