3 Baby Items You Should Never Buy Used

new baby giftsAs a father of three young children, I know all too well how expensive it can be to raise a family.  New parents are often shocked at how much spending it takes just to stock up on the basics.  Diapers and baby formula alone can cost a small fortune.

Frugal folks look to minimize their expenses and save money wherever possible, but there are some places where you just don’t want to cut corners.  No amount of savings is worth risking the safety of your little one.


A good crib will cost you at least a couple hundred bucks so it can be pretty tempting to buy one second hand at a garage sale or accept a relative’s hand me down crib.  But a used crib can be an accident waiting to happen and considering how much time a baby spends in his crib you don’t want to take any chances.

There are several problems with secondhand cribs.  First, older cribs might not meet today’s more stringent safety standards.  A few years back there was a number of injuries involving cribs that have drop-down sides which resulted in that entire style of crib being recalled.  You won’t find them in stores but they do still show up on Craigslist and in local yard sales.

Related: Check out cribs on Amazon

Another problem with used cribs is that you don’t know how well they have been taken care of in the past.  Was it sitting in someone’s basement under four hundred pounds of building supplies or standing in a puddle of water for months?  There could be damaged or missing parts that would make the crib unsafe.  What if there are no instructions?  You could miss a piece or put it together wrong.

Car Seats

By law, every state in the United States mandates that infants and children ride in child safety seats.  When you think about what could happen to your baby if you were in an accident you realize the importance of a safe car seat, but they can be very expensive and there are so many used car seats available for a fraction of the cost.

Don’t do it.

Car seats expire, and while they won’t suddenly fall to pieces the materials will start to wear out and your child’s safety could be compromised.  The expiration date is always listed somewhere on the car seat itself.  In addition to expiration dates, you also have to worry about a used car seat’s history.  Are you certain it was never in an accident?  Even a minor fender bender could have caused unseen damage.  When thinking about car seats, make sure to look for the top rated car seats.

Vintage Toys

Many grandparents set aside their children’s toys to one day share with their grandchildren.  It can be fun seeing your kids playing with the same toys that you grew up with, but that nostalgia can be dangerous.

Many older toys don’t meet current safety standards and may contain sharp edges or small pieces that a baby can choke on.  Even though you survived just fine, your baby might not be so lucky when playing with thirty year old toys that are more susceptible to breaking.  Older toys may also contain lead paint which is a well-known health hazard.


Do you think these items should be bought new or have you thought they will be fine used?


Image via Jessicafm, enhanced by me

About the Author Mike Collins

Mike Collins is a professional blogger and freelance writer. He’s also a husband and father of three children who keep him very busy. You can read more about his quest to achieve financial freedom for his family at WealthyTurtle.com

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FI Pilgrim says July 16

The lead paint issue can apply to older cribs as well Mike, depending on how they were finished. You might not think that little infant will be moving around too much but it’s amazing how quickly they are chewing on the rails!

Good post, thanks for educating folks on these items.

    Laurie says July 16

    Great point FI! They really do enjoy chewing on things, don’t they.

Retired by 40 says July 16

I have to disagree just a bit 🙂 We didn’t buy our cribs and carseat, but we did get them used, from a friend who has a child only a year older than ours. We knew the carseats hadn’t been in accidents and weren’t expired, and we knew that the crib was up to date and safe. I would, however, agree that you shouldn’t buy them from someone you don’t know….it’s just not safe 🙂

Travis @Debtchronicles says July 16

I had no idea that car seats had an expiration date on them until we wanted to sell one in a garage sale. I was looking over the seat to make sure it wasn’t broken and found the date – it had long since expired. Needless to say we didn’t put that out for sale….

Natalie @ Financegirl says July 16

As someone who does not have kids yet, I am glad to get this information ahead of time!! haha. Thanks for sharing – who knew car seats expire?!

Mark says July 16

Expiration dates on car seats are yet another indication that we have collectively lost our damn minds.

Talk about a combination of demand stimulation coupled with the irrational fears of new parents who will open their wallets and vigorously shake to alleviate every shred of risk that may puncture the perceived safety bubble around their offspring.

    Laurie says July 16

    While expiration dates might be a little extreme, they actually do make sense with this regard. The expiration dates are in years, not months. This is because most car seats are plastic. As plastic ages, its tensile strength degrades quickly. Since car seats are moved around, pulled in and out of cars, and can have jerking motions in the car, the plastic will not hold up as well over time.

    While we didn’t buy many things for our son, we did buy a new car seat and this was the reason why. It is not to increase a buying lifecycle, it is truly about safety. If you understand how material strengths work, then this would be understandable.

Liz says July 16

At one point in high school I worked at Babies R Us. I remember they used to have little info sessions on carseat safety and stuff. It is a big deal and it seems like there were a lot of different recalls.

Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions says July 16

I agree with your post — although, I did buy a used carseat from a friend because I knew it had never been in an accident.

I would add, though, that you should even use a used mattress for an infant (even if your younger child used it). It’s actually illegal in some states to sell used crib mattresses! So, that’s on our list of items to buy before our bambino arrives.

Jestep says July 16

I tend to disagree on all of these except the toys one. Looking at the toys my parents still have from their childhood, there’s a number of reasons I would skip many of them from sharp edges, to lead paint, to deteriorating parts, etc. And this is coming from someone who bought his daughter an archery set and a pocket knife when she was 8.

Assuming you have the slightest bit of mechanical aptitude, you should know really quickly when building a crib whether it’s structurally sufficient. To me the only reason not to get a used one would be a very poor quality crib in the first place or in the case of a drop side crib which have been attributed to numerous injuries and deaths over the years.

As far as car seats go, sure don’t buy some pile of garbage from craigslist or something that’s 10 years old, but getting one from a relative or close friend is probably pretty safe. I’ll tell you right now, I have searched a lot and can’t find a single verifiable report of a used car seat being attributed to the injury of a child, not one. Every “expert” says never use a used car seat, yet there is almost zero publicly accessible data on used car seats being more dangerous. The exception here is if the carseat was recalled for some safety reason, but it’s pretty easy to research recalled models.

Lauren says July 16

I got a car seat and a bassinet from a relative, and they worked out just fine. If you can verify with the original owner that the products weren’t damaged or involved in an accident, then I don’t see a problem. My daughter has also played with some vintage toys, no problems there either. I think as a parent, you just need to check everything out on an individual basis and make a decision from there.

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says July 16

Interesting, I would have thought all of these things could easily be bought second hand.

Shannon @ Financially Blonde says July 16

This is a great list Mike! I have actually always had a fear of buying used toys in general. I hate not knowing where something has been especially if it is something that my son would/could put in his mouth.

John @ Wise Dollar says July 16

Great list Mike, I could not agree more! I know there are some that disagree, but it’s just not worth it to go used with any of these things. After all, this is for your kid! I’m all for saving money, but we’re talking about the safety of your kids here.

Josh @ CNA Finance says July 16

I had no idea that used car seats could compromise the safety of your children. I don’t have kids yet, but I’ll definitely keep these things in mind when I do! Thanks for sharing!

    Laurie says July 16

    While it might not always compromise the safety, there is a possibility. As I described in my response above, plastic degrades over time after constant use. That is just how plastic is. As your car stops, goes, turns, and you take the child in and out. It slowly wears on the plastic. Is it worth saving $50 or $100? I don’t think so.

Alicia @ Monster Piggy Bank says July 16

The cost of buying all the gear you need for babies can add up quickly. With the tight budgets many parents like me have today, anyone may be tempted to save money by borrowing baby items from a friend or relative or buying them from a yard sale or secondhand store.

Carlo Angel says July 21

I couldn’t have agreed more Mike,
These items are really very important to purchase them new especially cribs. There are some things we can never risk buying used even though the new ones might be expensive yet, safety has to come first.

Thanks for sharing.

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