Obviously clothes for kids are great used. Stock up because they grow (it’s like they were designed that way or something!). But not everything the babies and kids use are going to do as well the second and third time around. Here’s what to buy secondhand from neighbors, friends and yard sales, and what’s better off buying new.

Great used:

Benefits of Used:


Good for environment

Cleans out your friend’s closet

Higher quality items

Great finds

  • Clothes and sleepwear (give them a good wash when you get home, though)
  • Jackets and sweaters and hoodies
  • All the winter seasonal clothes like snowpants and overalls are terrific to not buy first.
  • Shoes generally are good if they aren’t obviously worn out. It’s great to pick up someone’s boots and save yourself $50.
  • Bedding, but consider sending it all through a hot wash before using to make sure to wipe out any bedbugs or dust mites that can cause trouble later.
  • Toys, so many toys. Be alert to toy recalls, though. Check for toy recalls over here at this terribly named but useful list of toys that have been recalled. But big toys like play kitchens and Barbie houses can be great finds because they are often well over $100 new, and families desperate for space once their kids stop playing with them are willing to give them free if you just take it. Dishes, cups, plates, lunchboxes. I was so happy to get rid of two drawers filled with little pink and orange plastic kid-sized everything!
  • Certain light strollers, but be alert to its age and safety guidelines. See below.
  • Generally – if you can wash it when you get home, take it!

What’s not good to buy used:

Even though they can cost a ton, things that involve the baby’s safety should never be bought used.

  • Baby Car Seats
    They actually expire! The detail here is that the safety rules improve over time, more children go through accidents and the manufacturers get more information about their designs and improve them, and plastic wears out over time. And you won’t know what the seat has been through that could compromise its effectiveness in that most important moment. Even for your second and third kid, consider buying car seats brand new each time. Consumer Reports wrote, “You usually can’t be 100% sure of a secondhand car seat’s history, including whether it has been involved in a crash, its expiration date as set by the manufacturer, and its recall status.”
    Check your own stuff with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Regulatory Robot. The Robot will guide you through our requirements to help you identify important product safety requirements that may apply to your product like strollers, cribs, high chairs, car seats, toys, and mattresses.
  • Cribs
    It can be very tempting to avoid spending several hundred dollars when so much is changing and expensive in your family’s life. But don’t skimp on the crib. Federal safety regulations for manufacturers went into effect in 2011 for how far apart the slats had to be to keep babies safe, how the up and down mechanism works so they don’t get caught and how the wheels work and lock so active babies don’t push the crib around the room. Save up, sell other stuff, put a crib on your baby registry, do what you have to do to get a new crib for the baby.
  • Mattresses
    Because, yuck. Between what was done on someone else’s mattress and the possibility of bedbugs or even dust mites, you don’t want to drag that into your house and put your kids to sleep on that. Here is a whole page full of crib mattresses on Amazon.
  • Helmets
    Again, the plastic gets brittle, but more importantly, each helmet only has so many impacts it can take before it cracks and loses its integrity. And like everything else on this list, the safety rules and materials improve over time. Avoid unnecessary risks. Just buy a new helmet. We got our daughter’s first bike helmet at a local hospital’s Bike Fitting Day.
  • Anything consumable
    Old diaper cream that someone didn’t finish, no thanks. Again, it ages and you don’t want to wonder how that will impact your little one.

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