I KNOW, raising a child can be very costly.  Research has shown that it will typically cost over $200,000 to raise a child up until the age of 18.  Now if that made your toes curl, then I’m guessing that kind of money is not exactly chump change for you.  So I can definitely understand why the notion of buying or receiving second-hand baby gear is so attractive.

I did it too.  Made my rounds with friends and family to see what baby stuff they didn’t need.  And while the savings factor made the Frugal Fairy very happy, thoughts of safety kept weighing on me.  Is it safe for my baby?  Is is sanitary?  Can my baby choke on it?  You hear so much about baby products that are recalled and contain toxic materials these days, it makes me wonder, “How in the world are baby products not rigorously tested!?”


So I decided to do some research and got some great information from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) who really puts everything into perspective.  Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

Buy at Your Own Risk

  • Always check if juvenile product meets current safety standards
  • Ensure manufacturing instructions and labeling are still intact and legible
  • Check to see if the product has been recalled
  • Make sure product is clean and sanitary (find out how to properly clean and maintenance)
  • Condition should be ‘like new’
  • Inspect product in every detail for damage, choking hazards, loose parts/threading

Hand it Over

  • Baby clothes, children’s books, maternity clothes, basic toys that are ‘like new’ condition and can be easily cleaned.

No Thank You!

  • Baby Cribs:  It’s strongly suggested not to buy second-hand or heirloom cribs.  The crib may not meet current safety standards and has a greater chance of having missing or broken hardware and/or damage from being reassembled several times.
  • Car Seats: It’s impossible to know the car seat’s history and if it’s been involved in a crash, which would jeopardize it’s effectiveness.  Most car seats expire in about 5-6 years from the manufactured date and using an expired car seat can be dangerous.
  • Crib Mattresses:  #1 is for sanitary reasons.  In addition, years of use can affect it’s firmness and may not meet current safety standards.
  • Breast Pump: Also for sanitary reasons.

New Crib Safety Standards

  • June 28th, 2011: All cribs made and sold must comply with new and improved federal safety standards. 16CFR 1219 and 16CFR 1220
  • Prohibits sale of traditional drop-side rail cribs for full-size and non full-size cribs.
  • Increases testing for stronger crib slats, mattress supports and hardware
  • Requires more rigorous testing from manufacturers

All in all, getting Second Hand Baby Gear is a great way to save money on certain items, but always remember to: (1) thoroughly inspect the product, (2) check if it’s been recalled and (3) know how to clean and maintain it.

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