Get it New or Used? Your Guide to Buying Baby Gear

Save big money while getting the best for your child.

We get it. It’s really tempting to take your sister-in-law’s “practically new!” car seat or your neighbor’s “still fine!” crib. Everyone’s trying to spend less these days, especially if there’s a baby on the way. Reality check: some second-hand gear just isn’t worth the risk. The good news? Plenty of it is fine to snag gently used. We sorted out the options based on the latest Consumer Reports and US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) research, and with help from Julie Vallese, the Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

What to Look Into Used:

These products are OK to take second-hand, especially if they’re coming from someone you trust rather than a yard sale. Just make sure you check our list of caveats for each. And be certain it has a label with the model number so you find out if it’s been recalled; Go to Saferproducts.gov or recalls.gov.

Clothing

 Clothes

E+/Getty Images

As long as:
-There are no drawstrings, which are a strangulation hazard.
-It’s free of buttons and sewn-on ornamentation, a choking hazard.
-It doesn’t have a loose, open weave, which makes it easy for the garment to get caught.
-Sleepwear is labeled as flame retardant.

Bouncer Seat

 Bouncer

Photodisc/Getty Images

As long as:
-It has a base or back support that's wider than the seat itself.
-It has non-skid pads.

High Chair

 High Chair

Image Source/Getty Images

As long as:
-It has a five-point harness.
-It has a fixed crotch post, so that your baby can’t slide under the tray.

Changing Table

 Changing Table

Delta Children

As long as:
-It seems stable when you shake it.
-There’s a waist strap.

Glider

 Glider

Wal-Mart

As long as:
-It’s free of peeling or chipped paint.

Swing

 Swing

Target

As long as:
-It has a wide, sturdy base that's low to the ground.
-There’s a five-point harness.

Activity Center

 Activity Table

Buy Buy Baby

As long as:
-It has a sturdy frame with soft fabric edging on the sides and leg area of the seat cushions.
-The seat swivels smoothly without sticking.
-There aren't any gaps in the rim between the edge of the swivel mechanism and the tray, which could trap fingers.

Diaper Bag

 Diaper Bag

Etsy

As long as:
-It’s clean.
-It will be easy to keep that way (it can be wiped down or thrown in the washer).

Baby Monitor

 Baby Monitor

Sears

As long as:
-It has an out-of-range signal.
-It has a low-battery indicator.
-The volume control is easy to get at, say, on the side of the monitor, not hidden in a programming menu.

Baby Bathtub

 Baby Bathtub

Diapers.com

As long as:
-It's clean and doesn't smell of mildew.

Get New If You Can Swing It


These products are best gotten new. If you're on a tight budget, think about putting these on your gift wish list.

Stroller

 Stroller

Digital Vision/Getty Images

Why: This year’s crop of strollers have improved technology that make them much easier to use than predecessors. And considering how often you use it, and the beating one usually takes, that can be a huge plus.
But if you need to get it used, look for:
-A five-point harness
-Parking brakes that won't hurt your feet if you lock or unlock them in light shoes.
-One-hand open/close that leaves the stroller standing upright when closed.
-A soft front seat rim that won't press uncomfortably into your baby's legs.
Reflectors or reflective trim.

Crib

 Crib

Digital Vision/Getty Images

Why: Crib standards were overhauled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) only two years ago. So it'll probably be pretty tough to find one manufactured since then that's already up for grabs.
But if you need to get it used, look for:
-Slats that are at least 2 3/8 inches apart.
-A simple design without any scrollwork, finials, or protrusions.
-A sturdy frame with at least one stabilizer bar, a metal rod fastened to both end boards beneath the crib.
-A crib without drop sides, a well-known suffocation hazard.
-All the original parts and hardware and tight, sturdy assembly

Carrier

 Carrier

Taxi/Getty Images

Why: Strap-on carriers and slings have been subject to an inordinate number of recalls so a new one will be as safe as possible for your baby.
But if you need to get it used, look for:
-Buckles that require quite a bit of force to undo, but that won't pinch your fingers.
-Firm, wide, padded shoulder straps Side vent insets to keep your baby cool.
A padded waist strap for lumbar support.

Play Yard

 Play Yard

Target

Why: New standards were just put into effect by the CPSC in February. It'll be nearly impossible to find a usedplay yard that was manufactured since then being offered up yet.
But if you need to get it used, look for:
-Top rails with a hinge in the center that locks automatically when lifted up (otherwise, they can collapse into a V-shape that’s a strangulation hazard).
Smooth top rails, with nothing protruding more than 1/16-inch (clothing can catch otherwise).
-Strong corner brackets.
-Mesh with openings that are less than 1⁄4 inch.
-Sturdy attachments to keep the mattress tight against the play yard floor

Only New Will Do:

These three are non-negotiable.

Car Seat

 Car Seat

Taxi/Getty Images

Why: Continuous improvements are being made to car seat design, so the very latest models are likely to perform better than one even just two years old. And, of course, everything is at stake in a car seat's performance. look for: Features that will make it as easy as possible to install and use the seat right. Consumer Reports notes these as key:
-Push-on style LATCH connectors
-External harness adjustment
-Multiple recline adjustments and a ball or bubble recline level indicator on both sides (for infant seats)

Crib Mattress

 Crib Mattress

Flickr/Getty Images

Why: Mattresses can't really be thoroughly cleaned, and so used ones can be unsanitary.
Look for:
-Measurements of 27 1/4 inches wide by 51 5/8 inches long and no more than 6 inches thick.
-Sizing that doesn't allow for more than two fingers to fit between the mattress and the crib frame.

Breast Pump

 Breast Pump

Target

Why: Milk and moisture can travel through the tubing into the pump’s internal mechanism, and that can't be removed, replaced, or sanitized. Hospital-grade pumps are the exception, but those are built to be safely shared by multiple users, unlike even the priciest personal-use pumps.
Look for:
-Two-mode pumping: rapid, to simulate a baby's fast sucking to begin milk flow, and slower, to mimic a baby's deeper sucking.
-A one-year warranty on the motor.

Like this? Want more?
preview
Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web