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Babies are expensive, especially if you have to buy everything yourself. So buying used baby items or accepting hand-me-downs can be a great way to save money.
I’m usually always for saving money, but there are a few used baby items you should NEVER buy.
I cringe whenever I read a post that suggests an expecting parent should buy a used car seat. Yes, they are a big-ticket item, but there are a few reasons why you should never buy a car seat second hand.
- Car seats have expiration dates. Seems weird, doesn’t it? Like it could rot in the produce drawer in your refrigerator. Seriously though, the materials in car seats can become brittle after years of sitting in a car, exposed to the heat and cold, expanding and contracting with the temperature. Throw some drool, spilled juice, and cheerios in the mix, and that can further stress the materials. For this reason, manufacturers decided to set expiration dates to ensure the webbing and padding remains in good shape through the life of the seat.
- You don’t know if the car seat has been in a crash. Generally, it’s recommended that if the car seat has been in a moderate to severe crash, it needs to be replaced. If a car was damaged, there’s a good chance that the car seat was damaged too, even if it can’t be seen with the naked eye. While the car seat may look fine, it may not be able to protect the child as well if it’s involved in another crash. It’s just not worth the risk.
- Technology advances. Aside from the direct safety aspects of a used car seat, you should consider that new technology is always being developed. Car seats made in the last year or two are probably safer than those made even three or four years ago.
It’s for these reasons that you should always purchase a new car seat for your baby.
If you need a recommendation for a car seat, I highly recommend the Chicco KeyFit 30. I used it for both of my babies, and recommended it to my sister-in-law, who also purchased it.
I couldn’t have been more happy. It was easy to set up and use, and comfortable for my kids.
If you’re a two-car family, don’t forget the extra base!
Savings tip: Like I said, car seats can be expensive. To save money, sign up for Ebates (Rakuten), and check out Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, or other stores that sell car seats. When Ebates offers a good cash back amount for a store, purchase your car seat to snag the savings!
Another savings tip: Buy Buy Baby and Bed, Bath, and Beyond are owned by the same company. This means Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons also work at Buy Buy Baby! Between Ebates and coupons I saved quite a bit of money when I was buying toddler car seats!
Don’t stress if you can’t afford a new car seat! You should never have to choose between safety and affordability. There are resources that may be able to help you. Check out this list from Car Seats for the Littles.
Consider this: would you buy a used mattress for yourself? Probably not.
Even though most crib mattresses come with plastic covering, a lot happens on a baby’s mattress. I’ll let your imagination go with that rather than spelling it out directly!
A new mattress is going to be more hygienic and give you greater peace of mind. Look for a firm mattress for support.
Parenting tip: along with your mattress, buy two crib mattress covers. When you make baby’s bed, put down the mattress cover, then a fitted sheet, another mattress cover, and another fitted sheet. If baby has a diaper leak during the middle of the night, rip off the first sheet and crib mattress and the bed is already made. You’ll get your little one (and yourself!) back to bed faster!
If you plan on breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to get a breast pump. I know all too well that breastfeeding plans don’t always go as expected. For a variety of reasons, I ended up exclusively pumping both of my boys for a year (you can read about that experience here).
Breast pumps for individual use are not meant to be shared. The internal workings of the pump aren’t fully sealed, meaning that there can be contamination within the pump itself. Switching up the hoses, bottles, and shields, won’t overcome this.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did accept a breast pump from a friend before I learned sharing was a no-no. For the most part, I cannibalized it for parts (the car adapter and the extra power supply) for my new pump. But it did come in handy when my pump died unexpectedly when my second son was a few months old. It may not have been sanctioned, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures!
It’s worth noting that there isn’t much in the way of research on milk becoming contaminated with a used pump. But in my mind, it’s not worth the risk. Especially when most insurance companies will cover the cost of a breast pump (at least at the time of this writing!).
Do your research before your due date and get a prescription from your OBGYN for a pump before baby arrives. You’ll have enough to do once you give birth!
I admit, this seems like an odd choice to include. After all, it’s a pretty minor item compared to a crib mattress or a car seat. Let me tell you a story on why I decided to include it on this list.
I bought a cute set of bath squirters for my younger son. We enjoyed playing with them but one day, I squeezed one and black gunk came out. It was gross. Because they don’t dry fully, mold begins to grow and eventually, it comes out.
This might be an argument to avoid squirters all together, but I would buy all bath toys new.
Here are some of my favorites:
Bottle Nipples, Bulb Syringes, Pacifiers, Etc.
My general rule of thumb is that if it goes in baby’s mouth, nose, or anywhere else, it has to be new. For these things, I wouldn’t even accept something second hand. It’s just good practice for any health and wellness items to be new.
The one exception I would make is if the item is still new in the original packaging and obviously hasn’t been opened yet.
Pause Before You Buy These Used Baby Items
The following items could be hit or miss. Many of these items have been subject to frequent recalls. Do a bit of research first to make sure the item you’re looking at hasn’t been recalled and is safe.
- Strollers (new safety requirements came into place after 2015)
- Infant swings and bouncy chairs
- Soft baby carriers: it can be helpful to try out a soft carrier before you purchase one to get a sense of the feel. But these are also frequently recalled so do your homework first
Go Ahead and Buy Used
It might seem that you shouldn’t buy any used baby gear. That’s certainly not the case! To save money, go ahead and buy these items used with confidence. Before you buy carefully inspect the item to be sure it is clean, has all the parts, and is in good working order.
- Blankets and bedding
- Hard toys (avoid soft toys that can’t be cleaned easily)
- Baby monitors
- Pack and Play: Make sure the mattress is clean and there are no holes or tears in the webbing
- Highchairs and booster seats
- Nursing pillow/cover
- Bottle drying racks or dishwasher baskets
- Nursery decor
- White noise machine (certainly not a must-have but some parents like them)
Don’t Even Bother Buying These Baby Items
- Baby Walkers: The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages parents to use baby walkers because many children have been seriously injured by falling down stairs. Save yourself the money and just skip this item entirely.
- Car seat accessories: Using accessories such as covers, additional inserts, supports and the like can interfere with the proper working of a car seat, and can invalidate any warranty your car seat may have. Don’t even bother with these items.
- Wipe warmers and bottle warmers: I never used these with my kids and they’re turning out fine so far. This is personal preference of course, but if you’re looking to save money, you can easily skip these baby items.
- Drop side cribs: I don’t even know if you can find these anymore, but if you see one, keep walking. They’re not safe.
- Shoes: Babies don’t need shoes until they are solidly walking on their own outside. In fact, putting shoes on a baby too early can hinder his flexibility and balance. Unless you have a walker, skip the shoes.
- Door bouncers: Similar to the walkers, most doctors will dissuade parents from using these due to their dubious safety records.
Baby Registry Means Big Savings
The biggest way to save money on baby gear is to have other people buy it for you!
Even if you aren’t having a baby shower, it’s worth setting up a registry. People are going to want to buy you stuff so you might as well make it easy for them!
My primary baby registry was with Amazon and it couldn’t have been easier to use. I could take my time scrolling through items and reading reviews to make sure I selected the best products. The selection was far superior to anywhere else I’ve shopped, and they offer free ninety day returns.
Plus, they have a great completion bonus, where you can get a 10% discount (15% for Prime members!) for up to sixty days after baby’s expected arrival date.
Bonus saving tip: add Amazon gift cards to your baby registry and use those gift cards with your completion bonus!
Another huge bonus of the Amazon baby registry is that people are familiar with Amazon and are comfortable using it. Many have Amazon Prime memberships allowing them to save on shipping and have their payment information stored. It makes it easy for people to shop from your registry and have the item shipped directly to you. Or they can ship items to themselves so they can give to you personally.
I cannot recommend an Amazon baby registry highly enough! Interested in more information? Check it out: Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry
Used Baby Gear: Be Smart, Save Money
Buying used baby gear is a great way to save money in what’s likely to be a very expensive time of your life!
But you have to be smart. Don’t just chase a deal to save a few bucks. Thoroughly inspect any second-hand items before purchasing to make sure they’re clean, safe, and in good condition.
Before you go shopping, familiarize yourself with any recalls for the items you’re looking for, or use your phone to check while you’re in the store.
And keep in mind the five baby items you should never buy used. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth the potential risk to your baby’s safety.
Aside from that, knock yourself out! You can save hundreds of dollars buying used baby items and accepting hand-me-downs.