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Having a baby brings many joys — and expenses. From cribs and car seats to household essentials, like baby bottles and bathtubs, there’s a long list of items you need to purchase, and costs can add up quickly.
When buying on a budget, it’s no wonder parents often turn to used baby gear. Pre-loved items or freebies from friends can help you get what you need, save money and reduce waste.
However, according to Dr. Lisa Eichberger, a pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy, not everything is safe to use twice. “There are things to keep in mind before purchasing secondhand baby items — with safety being the number one priority,” she says.
Buying a secondhand car seat isn't a guaranteed safe option. It’s difficult to know the car seat’s history. “It might appear to be in good shape, but there’s a chance it may have been in a car accident, so its safety may have been compromised,” Dr. Eichberger says.
What's more, many parents don't realize that car seats have expiration dates. Most expire six to eight years from the date they were manufactured.
New is better and safer when it comes to cribs. Today, there are more regulations for crib building and crib safety. Cribs made before 2011 were not governed by the newest federal safety regulations and could have dangerous designs that pose trapping or falling hazards.
Similarly, it’s not recommended parents purchase a used crib mattress — not only for sanitary reasons but also safety reasons. Mattresses can degrade with age, and if a baby mattress has lost its shape or isn’t supportive enough, it can increase the risk of suffocation or asphyxiation, Dr. Eichberger says.
No matter how clean it looks, you should pass. Personal use breast pumps are not safe for use with more than one person. They may be harboring mold or bacteria that can put your baby’s health at risk.
For advice on breast pumps, or to buy or rent one, San Diego parents might want to visit the New Beginnings Boutique at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. Staffed seven days a week by certified lactation educators, the boutique offers a large selection of breastfeeding accessories and provides guidance and support.
Strollers made after 2015 are OK to reuse. This was the year new standards were put into place by the CPSC.
“When looking at a used stroller, make sure it’s sturdy and all the features — brakes, recline, clasps, buckles and canopy — are in working order,” Dr. Eichberger says. “Take it for a test drive and avoid strollers with any broken, loose or missing parts.”
Buying carriers and wraps secondhand is generally safe, as long as the carrier is still sturdy, with no rips, holes or tears.
Buying used baby clothing can be a smart move, since babies grow fast — what fits them one week may not fit them the next. Clean, secondhand baby clothes, outerwear and shoes are all generally safe for your baby.
“Check all snaps, buttons and zippers,” Dr. Eichberger says. “And be wary of items with loose buttons or other choking hazards.”
Toys that are in good condition and easy to clean can be bought secondhand. Make sure the toy doesn’t have sharp edges, peeling or chipped paint, or loose or accessible small parts.
Remember, when it comes to your child's well-being, safety should always be the top priority. Keep in mind that safety regulations are constantly evolving as research identifies features that pose a risk of injury. With smart shopping, you can ensure your child's safety while being budget-friendly and eco-conscious.
The Sharp Health News Team are content authors who write and produce stories about Sharp HealthCare and its hospitals, clinics, medical groups and health plan.
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