I wrote an extensive Used Baby Gear Guide over on Babble.com, outlining which baby products are typically safe to use second-hand, and which are best to buy new.
But I especially wanted to highlight it over here, where more moms might be looking to save a few bucks. I know that I, personally, wanted everything new, new, new — remember, I needed the "stuff" — but I used plenty of hand-me-down items, many of which I was whole-heartedly grateful for. Because while a swing, a bouncer, and an exersaucer are all NECESSARY FOR YOUR SANITY, they only get used for mere months before becoming permanent members of storage. And baby clothes? I warmly welcomed the bags of second-hand clothes from my family, especially the staples like onesies and PJs.
Yet there are quite a few baby products that are better to buy new:
1. Cribs: Crib standards are constantly changing (the most recent safety regulation changes took effect in mid-2011), so it's best to just buy new — especially considering cribs need to be trusted. If you do buy used, make sure that you're not using a drop-side crib (which was banned about two years ago). And always check for recalls.
$$$ saving tip: Choose IKEA. You can get a quality modern crib for $99.
2. Mattresses: Besides the fact that dust mites and bed bugs are nothing a new mom wants to mess with, those old mattresses of yore were slathered in potentially toxic chemicals. In fact the 2009 Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act banned several varieties of phthalates from crib mattresses, which were linked to cancer and endocrine system problems. So if you do buy used, make sure that it was manufactured after February 2009.
There are plenty of natural, non-cancer-causing water-repellent and fire-proof materials nowadays — avoid the vinyl.
3. Car Seats: This is the one product that can save your child's life — so put your money here. I know how tempting it is to accept a hand-me-down car seat — these things are expensive — but you should always be 100% sure that it wasn't in a car accident, which could cause small cracks and fractures in the seat, compromising your baby's safety. And car seats have expiration dates — did you know that? They typically expire around the 6-year mark, so keep that in mind.
4. Breast Pumps
Here's something I didn't know: don't share your breast pump. I actually did use a borrowed breast pump, and specifically a borrowed pump that shouldn't be shared (the Medela Pump In Style). My lender never actually used it, although I didn't care about silly things like hygiene when I was faced with a $300+ price tag. Turns out it's a big no-no — most breast pumps, despite costing an arm and a leg, can collect germs and viruses on parts of the pump that can't be removed and sterilized. Ick.
Exceptions: Rental breast pumps should be safe to share (I'd hope!), as are Hygeia breast pumps, which are the only pumps I know of that are FDA-approved for multi-users.
See the entire Used Baby Gear Buying Guide over at Babble.com for more tips.
This post is sponsored by Disney Baby. I’ll be joining the Disney Baby blogging team next month, and look forward to sharing these kinds of stories (projects/ideas/etc) with you over there! Stay tuned for more details!