Baby gear these days is downright expensive. Even cheap cribs start at around $150 and cheap electric breast pumps cost more than $100. The good news is that many baby items can be reused if you've already had one child, or if you're open to used baby gear handed down from friends and family or found in secondhand stores. Below are some items you may be able to reuse under the right circumstances.
Baby Clothes and Linens.Baby clothes, burp cloths, swaddling blankets, cloth diapers, crib bedding, and the like are all perfectly fine to reuse. Just be sure to give any used baby stuff a good wash with hot water and you're all set. Granted, baby clothes get stained easily and often, so if it's something that you can't get clean or you don't think you'll actually use, then toss it.
Cribs.Cribs can be reused with a few important precautions. If your kids will be close in age, then a crib used previously by an older child may be perfectly acceptable. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission cribs does not recommend using a crib older than 10 years. To be even safer, avoid any crib sold prior to June 28, 2011, when five new federal requirements went into effect, one of which prohibits the formerly popular drop-side design. If you're planning to get a used crib from a family member or secondhand store, check the CPSC website to make sure the model hasn't been recalled and scour the crib to verify that it can be properly assembled with all the required parts (especially tiny screws).
As for the crib mattress, a BabyCenter article reviewed by the site's medical advisory board concludes that it's safe to reuse a mattress from a previous child if you've protected it with a removable cover and stored it in a clean environment. If you don't know the conditions a used crib mattress comes from, then you should invest in a new one. Several studies have linked an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, to bacteria from a previous baby's bodily functions that get lodged in the crib mattress or fungus that grows while the mattress is in storage.
Other Furniture.Baby furniture such as rockers, dressers, changing tables, etc., is acceptable to reuse to outfit a nursery. As with a crib, though, make sure that all parts are included in this used baby stuff so you can assemble the pieces properly. You wouldn't want put a wobbly changing table or a dresser missing a leg in a nursery where it could potentially harm your baby.
Toys and Activity Equipment.Toys and play yards (or Pack ‘n Plays, the brand name often used to refer to them) are generally safe to reuse, as long as they have been properly sanitized. Most toys can be easily cleaned up and reused (as long as they are age appropriate, of course) and play yards can be wiped down to be ready for your new baby. That said, the CPSC issued new guidelines for play yards earlier this year, prohibiting certain side rails that pose a strangulation hazard and mandating sturdier corner brackets and mattress attachments. Of course, you should also stay away from any used baby stuff that the commission lists among its recalls.
Breast Pumps.There is a lot of debate over whether or not you should reuse a breast pump. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration differentiates between single-user devices and hospital-grade breast pumps designed to be used by multiple users. The FDA warns that sharing a regular breast pump with another woman can transfer infectious illnesses to you and/or your baby. You may be able to find a hospital-grade breast pump available for rent or receive assistance from your health insurer or state health department to buy a new one. If you already have your own breast pump, buying a new tubing kit should be sufficient for you and only you to reuse it.
Car Seats.A car seat may be safe to reuse if you know its history. Guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say that a car seat or infant seat must be replaced following a moderate to severe car accident, even if there's no visible damage. Car seats that have been in minor accidents, however, can be reused. A minor accident, as defined by the NHTSA, must match ALL of the following:
- The vehicle is able to be driven away from accident.
- The vehicle door nearest the car seat is undamaged.
- There are no injuries to any of the vehicle passengers.
- The vehicle's air bags did not deploy.
- No damage is detected on the car seat.
If you know where the car seat is coming from and know it has never been in an accident, then feel free to reuse it. Again, though, check the CPSC website for recalls. This is one piece of used baby stuff that experts do not recommend purchasing from a secondhand store, because you have no way of knowing whether or not the car seat has been in an accident.