August 15, 2022 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven
Getting hand-me-down or secondhand baby items is a sustainable way to save money, but expired, damaged, or even new-looking gear could potentially pose a hazard.
“As we know, safety standards are changing all the time,” said Nick Aysseh, Manager for the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Injury & Violence Prevention.
Aysseh broke down which items are safe to get used and explained why others should be bought new.
What baby items are safe to get secondhand? Lightly used clothing from family or friends. Kids grow quickly, so if clothing looks like it’s in good condition, it’s perfectly fine to reuse. The same can be said for baby carriers and slings.
Pack n’ plays can be re-used if they’re not expired, and the pad that fits inside is in great condition. Plastic baby baths and toys are other options to get from family and friends – just be sure to give them a good cleaning before use.
Highchairs can be reused if they meet the most recent safety standards. Look for a fixed crotch pillar and a five-point harness to keep the child from sliding out. Highchair trays should also slide in front of the child and not go over a baby’s head.
Strollers can be one of the most expensive items parents get, and it’s possible to find one secondhand. However, the standards for strollers changed in 2015, so look for when it was made.
Some nursery furniture, like changing tables and rockers or gliders, are great to get secondhand, potentially saving parents hundreds of dollars.
No matter what items you get secondhand, it’s important to double-check for recalls through the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
What baby items should be purchased brand new? A crib is a big investment, but parents should always try to buy a new one. Some older cribs have sides that drop down, which results in pediatric deaths. If you see a crib for sale that has that feature, it’s possible it was not manufactured in the U.S. and does not meet current safety guidelines. In addition, never buy crib bumper pads, which are tied to an increased risk of SIDS. If parents can’t afford a new crib, get a portable crib or pack n’ play.
Crib mattresses should also be bought new. Over time, a mattress may look fine, but hidden depressions or indentations can lead to suffocation. It should also fit snugly inside the crib. Not sure if it’s the right size? You should not be able to fit more than two fingers inside the space where the mattress and crib meet.
Car seats should be bought new for several reasons. Car seats can expire, even if they look brand new. They may have potential hidden damage that can’t be seen at first glance.
“If you’re getting it from a family member that you would trust your child’s life with, and they tell you it’s never been in an accident, that’s one thing,” Aysseh said. “But if you’re buying a secondhand seat, don’t do it because you have no idea if that seat was ever in an accident.”
Remember to pay close attention to expiration dates and seek a certified child passenger safety tech for education and installation assistance. Need help with your car seat? Call YNHH 203-200-KIDS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are some products parents may not realize could be unsafe if they’re secondhand? Breast pumps. Be aware of used breast pumps unless the manufacturer specifies that it's okay for multiple users. Many insurance companies will cover the cost of a pump or a rental that is made specifically for more than one person.
How can parents make sure the baby products they are using are safe? Don’t rely on product reviews or online Q&As. Unfortunately, many online shops sell products through third-party vendors that may not be reliable. Instead, look to trusted resources like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Anyone who has questions about products that impact a baby’s safety, such as a crib or crib mattress, should also consult their pediatrician.
Center for Injury and Violence Prevention
Yale New Haven Hospital