For the media

Used baby gear: Is it safe?

By The Health News Team | November 15, 2023
Car seat in the back seat of a car

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.

Baby items you should buy new

Car seats
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.

Breast pumps
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.

Baby gear you can consider buying used

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.”

Baby carriers
Buying carriers and wraps secondhand is generally safe, as long as the carrier is still sturdy, with no rips, holes or tears.

Baby clothing
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.

Safety tips for used baby gear


Check dates.

Some items come with a label that notes their manufacturing year, or you may be able to find this in the item’s manual. It’s important to pay attention to the date to determine if the product meets current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.


Check for product recalls.

Be sure to check for product recalls, which is when an item has been found to have defects or safety issues. While it’s illegal to sell recalled products, people might not be aware of the law, or may not realize the product they’re selling has been recalled. “You can typically find this information on reputable consumer websites, such as the CPSC website or,” says Dr. Eichberger.


Look out for wear and tear and any safety hazards.

Avoid purchasing used baby items that have been damaged or have missing or loose parts, sharp edges, or chipped or peeling paint. You’ll also want to inspect the product for anything that can cause a choking or strangulation hazard.


Ensure items come with an instruction manual.

If you’re shopping for used baby items that require installation, check that it comes with an instruction manual. “The instruction manual will tell you how to install an item properly and safely,” Dr. Eichberger says. “It also tells you when the item was made, which is helpful when determining if it’s been recalled.”


Clean and sanitize items.

If it’s not possible to wash the gear you want to buy, you may want to skip it. It’s easy to clean clothes by throwing them in the washing machine, but some toys may not be as straightforward. To reduce the risk of passing along germs to your baby, Dr. Eichberger suggests wiping down items that can’t be machine washed with soap and water or a bleach-based cleaning spray.

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.

Learn more about parenting; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.

You might also like:

Get the best of Sharp Health News in your inbox

Our weekly email brings you the latest health tips, recipes and stories.