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Second-Hand Safety


  • Buying or borrowing second-hand baby gear can put your baby at risk for injury because the products might not meet current safety standards. There have been great advancements in baby safety over the past 10, 20 and even 30 years.
  • Don’t assume what you are buying second hand is safe! You don’t know the history of the product and chances are neither does the seller. Ensure all of the manufacturer’s instructions and labeling is still intact and legible. Check to make sure the product hasn’t been recalled BEFORE you take it home. If this means coming back to the store and chancing the product is no longer available, it’s worth it.
  • Cribs and bassinets are a popular hand-me-down product because they often carry sentimental value if it’s passed down through generations. With the risk of hurting anyone’s feelings, it is really important to check that the crib or bassinet meets current safety standards such as crib slat width and corner post height just to name a few. Hand-me-down cribs and bassinets have a greater chance of missing parts since it’s most likely been reassembled numerous times and traveled.


  • Outfitting your baby nursery can cost as little or as much as you deem appropriate. If you are on a tight budget, buying second-hand baby gear is a good alternative if you do it safely. Baby gear that can be easily cleaned and meet current safety standards such as clothes, books, or basic toys are great choices to buy or borrow.

Buying Do’s and Don’ts

Do borrow or buy second hand:
  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Maternity clothes
  • Basic toys that are in “like new” condition and can be easily cleaned
Do NOT borrow or buy second hand:
  • Car seats - It is impossible to know the car seat’s history and using one that has been involved in a crash could jeopardize its effectiveness. Most car seats expire about 5 or 6 years from the date of manufacture and using a car seat after it has expired could be dangerous.
  • Cribs - As a general practice, do not use second-hand cribs or heirloom cribs handed down from other family members or those purchased at thrift stores or garage sales because they may not meet the most current safety standards or could have missing or broken parts or hardware.
  • Crib Mattresses - Due to sanitary reasons.
  • Breast Pump Accessories - Due to sanitary reasons.


Nothing carries such sentimental value as a gift that has been handed down from generation to generation. After all, it is pretty cool to have your child sleep in the same bassinet you did or play with some of your favorite childhood toys. But, heirloom baby gear can be dangerous because it just doesn’t meet the current safety standards.

There have been great advancements in baby product safety over the past 10, 20 and even 30 years, especially when it comes to cribs, strollers, high chairs, and walkers. Any hand-me-down baby item has a greater chance of missing parts since it’s most likely been reassembled numerous times and traveled.
Don’t risk safety over hurt feelings!

Saving Alternatives

The average parent can spend as much or as little as they deem appropriate on baby gear. The great thing about being a parent now-a-days is the variety. There are baby products that meet every budget and lifestyle need.

If you are considering buying second hand in order to stay on budget, it’s important to prioritize the baby gear you want to buy new. In an effort to be able to splurge on those new items, try keeping to your budget in other areas such as:

  • Breastfeed vs formula
  • Cloth diapers vs disposable diapers
  • Consider making your own baby food vs buying it
  • Borrow books from the local library vs buying them brand new
  • Register for those big ticket safety items you definitely want new like a crib, car seat, and stroller
  • Look for coupons or rebates through retailers.
  • Find a car seat assistance program through hospitals or local health departments that sometimes provide car seats to families in need.

The Bottom Line!

Put safety before price- even if it’s the deal of the century! This means inspecting the product in detail. Don’t buy any product if it has loose, missing or broken parts, is moldy, rusty or has anything “out of sorts”.

New products meeting current safety standards are the safest option. However, if it is imperative to use older products, make sure they have not been recalled, meet current safety standards and have all the manufacturer instructions and labeling requirements. Most importantly, err on the side of caution and safety and use your best judgment if you must buy second-hand baby products or take hand-me-downs. If you are unsure of the safety of any used baby product, it's better to buy new or seek an alternative.


If you plan to use second-hand baby gear, take a second look before you purchase or borrow it and be sure to follow these guidelines to keep your baby safe and sound:

  • When using second-hand products, make sure all parts are available, the product is fully functional, not broken, and has not been recalled.
  • Adult Supervision – The only sure-fire way to keep your baby safe is direct supervision when juvenile products are in use.
  • Read Instructions and Warnings – For the safest product use, be sure to always read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions and warning labels.
  • Safest Option – Keep in mind that new products meeting current safety standards are the safest option.
  • Inspection During Use – Don’t forget to frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes, and tears.
  • Discontinue Use – Monitor your child’s growth and development. Discontinue using a product as your baby reaches the limits defined by the manufacturer.
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