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What Baby Gear Can You Get Used?
If you are becoming a grandparent – or a great-grandparent – you probably don’t have much baby gear around the house. And you know that babies require a lot of stuff. The good news is that you can buy a lot of it – but not everything – used or accept hand-me-downs from friends and family. But before you buy anything used, from clothes to cribs, check the website recalls.gov to be sure it has not been subject to a safety recall.
Clothes. You can almost always re-use baby clothes, unless they are just too gross. The younger the baby, the more likely you are to find clothes that are almost-new. Fashions don’t change much for young babies, and infants grow so fast that they often don’t wear an outfit more than once or twice. Just make sure there are no holes and that buttons, snaps and zippers all work.
Toys. These also are usually fine as long as they have been gently used. Avoid very old toys, which could have lead paint. Check all toys for any sharp edges or broken pieces. Make sure the toy is appropriate to the age of the baby. And always wash a toy thoroughly before you give it to the child.
Infant carriers. It is probably OK to get this used, although be sure to check for a recall. Also check to make sure the stitching is secure and the straps are securely attached to the carrier. And ensure that the carrier is appropriate for the size for the baby. Some carriers, for example, are only safe for children up to a certain weight.
Swings, bouncers, etc. These take up a lot of space and won’t interest a baby for very long – but they can be a godsend while they do. These are great candidates for buying used or for getting from a friend – who probably will be more than happy to get the huge item out of the house. Just check the recall site.
Cribs and play yards. Unless these are very new – within the last few years – you probably should avoid buying or accepting a used crib or play yard. Safety standards have changed considerably in recent years. For example, early play yards sometimes had sides that could collapse, trapping the baby. New safety requirements do not allow for drop-side cribs and require that crib slats be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. And be sure to check for recalls.
Strollers. Check for recalls, and also check that the stroller is in good working order. Does it fold and unfold easily? Is it secure when it is unfolded? Does it have a working brake? Does it have safety straps? If it passes all these tests, a used stroller should be safe.
Car seats. You should never buy a used car seat. It could have been in a crash, even if there is no evidence, and that could make it ineffective. If someone you know and trust offers you a car seat that has not been in a crash, check for a recall. Don’t use a car seat that is more than five years old, because the technology has changed dramatically in that time. And always be sure to use a seat that is right for the age and size of the baby.