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Understand the risks of secondhand baby gear

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Make it safer at home

During Baby Safety Awareness Month, learn more about the risks of secondhand baby gear. Find out how to be frugal without putting your little one at risk of common dangers from baby gear.
Baby in crib

Stocking up a nursery can cost you big bucks. When you’re on a budget, shopping for secondhand baby gear saves money. As you search for frugal alternatives to new baby gear, be aware of risks.

Don’t buy used car seats

According to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, most car seats expire 5 or 6 years from the date of manufacture. When you buy a used car seat, you may be unable to tell when it was purchased. On top of that, the car seat may have been in an accident. Car seats should always be replaced after accidents. A car seat that’s expired or has been compromised in any way may not adequately protect your baby.

Research recalls

When you purchase a new item and register with the manufacturer, you have a better chance of being notified if a recall occurs. Buying used means that you could be purchasing something that has been recalled due to a safety hazard. While this doesn’t rule out buying items like swings, bouncers and other gear secondhand, it does mean you should do some extra research to make sure it hasn’t been recalled. Start at Recalls.gov.

Avoid secondhand cribs

Unless you’re buying a secondhand crib that’s very new and comes with all the original parts and instructions, it’s best to avoid used cribs entirely. Drop-side and heirloom cribs are not considered safe because they no longer meet safety standards. Even cribs with fixed sides may be missing safety components. For your baby’s safety, look into new, budget-friendly options at stores known for low prices.

Learn how to choose a safe crib >>

Be aware of thirdhand smoke risk

Children and babies are especially susceptible to the effects of thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke refers to tobacco residue that lingers in items like clothing when it’s been exposed frequently to cigarette smoke. Only buy used toys, clothing and other gear if you’re certain it’s from a non-smoker’s home.

Buy your crib mattress new

It’s best to avoid buying a used crib mattress. Babies are notorious for causing all kinds of leaks and stains on bedding. Older mattresses may not adhere to current standards of manufacturing. To ensure sanitation and safety, shop new. A crib mattress is a smart item to add to your registry.

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Know what’s safe to buy secondhand

When you shop for secondhand gear and toys, make sure you’re purchasing something you can clean well. Avoid toys with small parts or fiddly parts that seem likely to break. Clothes and books are fine as long as you’re buying them from a non-smoker or you’re certain they came from a non-smoker’s home. Give items a good wash before letting your baby use them.

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