8 Things Parents Should Never Buy Used

8 Things Parents Should Never Buy Used

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 methere are some things parents should never buy used.

Here’s a roundup of the kid-related gear that’s best bought new.

Certain Toys

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 labbut 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 inuntil 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

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.

Bath Toys

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 clothingespecially 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.

Breast Pumps

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.

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What to Pack for a Family Road Trip

Family Road Trip | Douglas Cuddle Toy


Heading off on a vacation this summer? For most families, skipping expensive airfare and opting to drive makes a lot more financial sense. In addition to keeping more cash in your pocket, road trips are also an opportunity to create new memories together as a family (while making pit stops at cool destinations along the way)!

If you’re getting ready to hit the road with kids in tow, there are some things you definitely don’t want to leave home without. To make a long drive as comfortable as possible for your little ones, here’s a roundup of five must-have things to pack before hitting the highway.

Your child’s favorite loveys

Chances are, your child has a treasured stuffed pal or blanket that feels like part of the family. Being that it is a family vacation, be sure to bring these loveys along for the ride.

Since road trips require long stretches of time in the car, it’s only natural for children to grow restless and cranky sooner or later. Having their favorite lovey (formally known as a transitional object) can help soothe crabby little ones.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), transitional objects are a perfectly healthy part of development. Why? They help children cope with unfamiliarity while providing a sense of comfort and safety. Sshlumpies make for an ideal lovey object because they’re portable, cute and (most importantly) super soft! The AAP stresses that softness is part of a transitional object’s appeal.

Having a lovey in the backseat will also help your child sleep away some of the drive.

Snacks to keep those hungry bellies full

Nothing will throw off your travel time like having to continually stop for food. Be sure to pack a good supply of grab-and-go snacks to help keep hunger at bay. Word to the wise: avoid messy foods.

Good go-to items include fruits and veggies in squeezable pouches, almonds (assuming your child is old enough to have them and doesn’t have a nut allergy), apple slices and cereal bars. When it comes to drinks, be sure to stick with water, which won’t stain if it spills. To be on the safe side, opt for travel cups with secure lids.

I like to keep our snack bag in the front seat during family road trips. Otherwise, the kids will blow through all the goodies before we’re even out of the neighborhood!

In-car entertainment

For most parents, it doesn’t take long before they hear whines of boredom coming from the backseat. Think ahead and be sure to pack things that will help pass the hours.

Consider renting an educational movie that kids can watch along the ride. To prevent fights over who gets to hold the iPad, try mounting it to the back of one of the front seats. Sites like Pinterest are full of creative ways to do this.

When movies lose their appeal, card games and handheld video games can also do the trick. (I prefer ones that teach letter sounds, number sense, etc.) Stuffed animals are another great option. More often than not, the novelty of a new toy is enough to keep kids enthralled. Consider picking up a new cuddle toy that you introduce to your child while on the road.

Extra clothes that are within reach

Let’s face itfamily road trips get messy! It’s only a matter of time before a drink is spilled or a potty-training little one can’t hold it in. Having an extra set of emergency clothes on hand can be a lifesaver.

Just make sure it’s within reach. If your child gets carsick, the last thing you’ll want to do is pull over on a busy highway to dig around in the trunk.

Alternatively, some parents prefer to pack emergency kits for each child that contain things like extra clothes, shoes, underwear and more.

Clean-up supplies

On a similar note, it doesn’t take long for a family car to become a trash pit during a long drive. Keeping the glove box stocked with a few plastic shopping bags is key. During each rest stop, be sure to clean out the mess as you go.

One other thing I would never leave home without is a good supply of baby wipes. Even if your kids are older, wipes are a must! Between food, runny noses and unexpected spills, you’ll thank yourself later for keeping these on hand.

Hand sanitizer is another thing you’ll want in the car. This is especially handy to have when visiting a public rest area or before digging into a drive-thru meal. (Speaking of drive-thrus, bringing along a little basket for each child to sort their meals in the car is genius!)

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5 Fun Summer Activities for Children

Summer Activities | Douglas Cuddle Toys

Temperatures are up, barbeques are out, and beaches are packedin other words, summer is in full swing. It also means that the kiddos are out of school and home all season long. Whether you”re a stay-at-home parent or you work full time, keeping your kids both entertained and stimulated during the summer months can be a daunting task.

Luckily, there are plenty of summertime activities that are fun for both parents and kids. You just have to know where to look. Here”s a breakdown of five ways to help your kids thrive (and have a blast) during summer vacation.


Cool off with out-of-the-box water games

Playing poolside or at the beach is often a go-to summertime activity. How about mixing it up a little? Putting a creative twist on water play is a great way to engage little ones (and get them moving at the same time). This can be as simple as putting a hot-weather spin on your favorite outdoor games.

For example, instead of a game of Duck, Duck, Goose, how about Duck, Duck, Splash? Setting up water balloon piñatas or creating a “kiddie car wash” in your yard are other simple, inexpensive ways to cool off and have fun at the same time.

If you”re looking for something with an educational edge, try setting up a big jug of water along with a handful of household items. Then have your kids predict which items will sink and which ones will float. Keeping a tally of the outcomes also reinforces skip counting by fives.

In fact, experts say that water play can help foster math and science comprehension, physical skills, language development, social/emotional skills and more!

Spark their imaginations with a game of dress up

If your kids are falling victim to summer boredom, try taking advantage of an awesome entertainment toolyour closet. Despite popular belief, girls aren”t the only ones who benefit from playing dress up. According to child development experts, dressing up tunes up the imagination of both boys and girls by encouraging role play and social development.

If your child is a nature lover, our Dreamy Dress-Ups are a perfect way to rev up little imaginations. These delicate wings transform kids into instant butterflies. They also go hand in hand with teaching basic science lessons, like the life cycle of a butterfly.

Simply put; old hats, scarves, dresses, ties and accessories can be a treasure trove for little ones engaging in fantasy play.

Explore day camps

When it comes to summer camp, sleep-away options aren”t the only choice. In fact, most towns offer a variety of specialized day campsyou just have to know where to look. Start by checking in with your local beste online casino YMCA and library branches, many of which offer low-cost or free summertime activities for kids.

Everything from science and art camps, to technology and sports programs may be available. Scoping out your nearby recreational sports leagues can also reveal some great, previously unknown options.

For little ones, experts also say that day camps help preschoolers hone school-readiness skills like sharing, taking turns, following group directions and more. (They also give parents a much-needed break!)

Repurpose your toys

If you”re like most families, your kids likely have a crew of cuddly toys and stuffed friends right in their bedroom. Put them to use! A handy trick is to create a sense of novelty by rotating their toys.

Rotating toys actually increases appeal and can get kids excited about a once-forgotten Teddy. This is a much better option than prematurely giving away toys that your child may not be ready to part with. Instead, keep them out of sight and on deck. Periodically switching out toys ups both interest and motivation.

Hit up your local attractions

You don”t have to live near a theme park to take advantage of your town”s local tourist attractions. Contact your local museums and see what summer activities they have going on for kids. (Many offer special events and day programs specifically geared toward children on summer vacation.)

This can include scoping out nearby aquariums, zoos, water parks and more. Another bonus is that many offer discounted rates for residents who purchase a specialty package. Busch Gardens in Tampa, for example, offers an annual pass that comes with unlimited admission, free parking and other perks that make it a worthwhile buy. If you plan on visiting more than once this summer, it”ll ultimately save you money in the long run. Plus, it”s a special treat the kids will love!

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