Nobody loves hand-me-downs more than me. In fact, a good chunk of my daughters’ clothes and furniture are secondhand treasures. But take it from me—there are some things parents should never buy used.
Here’s a roundup of the kid-related gear that’s best bought new.
Don’t get me wrong, my 4- and 5-year-old girls enjoy their used storybooks just as much as they would if they were purchased from our local bookstore. But some used toys really ought to be passed over. Used Legos, for example, need to be disinfected before being played with, which can be a cumbersome affair.
The same goes for cuddly toys and stuffed animals. Between bed bugs, lice and bacteria, there are plenty of creepy crawlies out there that can easily make their way onto previously used snuggle toys. With great deals on items like our stuffed black labs, it makes more sense to save yourself the headache and go for a fresh new furry friend.
If it gets a little dirty along the way, you can easily breathe new life into a stuffed black lab—but at least you know where the mess came from.
Car Seats and Cribs
Something that’s definitely on the no-no list are used car seats. Unless you’re able to confirm that the product hasn’t been recalled or previously involved in a car accident, it’s just too risky. Tons of car seats and car seat accessories are actually recalled more often than you might think.
The same can be said for bassinets and cribs. When my youngest was born, a family member gave me a beautiful bassinet that I couldn’t wait to put my newborn in—until I did a quick Internet search and found that more than a few babies had been injured before the model was recalled. Into the trash it went.
Bike helmets are specifically designed to protect your little one’s head. When learning to ride a bike or scooter, there’s going to be too many tumbles and scraped knees to count. Since that’s simply par for the course, it’s important that your child wear a helmet that offers the best protection.
Experts say that bike helmets should be replaced immediately if they’ve endured any sort of crash. The same goes for helmets that have cracked or missing foam. Again, there’s also always the possibility that the helmet has been recalled. Play it safe and buy it new.
One of the most horrifying memories from a few years back was when I took a peek inside one of my toddler’s squeezy bath toys. After I cut the head off a rubber duck, I discovered nothing but mold and mildew!
When buying things secondhand, I would highly recommended skipping over any bath toys. With the constant exposure to moisture, it’s just not worth it. The only exception I might make is with plastic baby bathtubs, but be sure it hasn’t been recalled first.
Bottles and Pacifiers
This one kind of goes without saying. Still, these are things I sometimes see on display at garage sales and secondhand stores. The reasons to opt for new bottles and pacifiers seem obvious enough, but let’s break it down just to be safe.
If these items haven’t been sanitized correctly, you could be looking at contracting a mouth infection. Bottle nipples and pacifiers also tend to crack and break apart with too much use. Broken rubber bits are definitely not something you want in your little one’s mouth.
New sneakers can get pricy, but the truth is that finding high-quality used shoes can be a tricky task. In addition to getting filthy, shoes lose both their luster and durability with typical wear and tear. Rain and moisture can also do a number on shoes. (The last thing you’ll want to put on your kid’s feet are icky sneakers.)
What’s more is that unsupportive, worn-out shoes aren’t only uncomfortable; they can also make your child more likely to trip and fall. This especially goes for sandals. This is why my little one rarely gets her big sister’s old shoes.
Bedding and Towels
Come across a cute set of crib sheets at your local flea market? You might want to think again before you make the purchase, even if they appear to be in good shape. The bed bug problem in the U.S. is a real thing, and your odds of coming into contact with them may increase when buying used clothing—especially sheets and towels.
There’s no shame in shopping at secondhand stores. (Some of my favorite vintage dresses and household decor are from my local thrift store.) But when it comes to bedding, I always take a pass.
I have to be honest here; I used a hand-me-down breast pump for years that was previously owned by my cousin. But after doing some research, I would seriously think again if in the same boat today. Experts strongly discourage going the used-breast-pump route.
For starters, many are designed as single-user products. The concern is cross-contamination, which can occur if the pump and accessories aren’t properly sanitized. Even with new tubes, the possibility is still there. It’s also only a matter of time before the motor begins to lose its pumping power. Do yourself a favor and buy this item new.