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5 Baby Items You Should Always Buy New… Or Not?

By Monica Bielanko |

That crib better be BRAND new, bub. Or else your mom doesn't REALLY care about you.

I’m starting to smell a conspiracy.  Seriously.  Like, you know how some people say there is a cure for the common cold but the government or pharmaceutical companies or whomever don’t want us to know about it because of all the money spend on symptom-reducing products?  That’s how I’m starting to feel about baby items.

I recently read an article floating around the internet in several different forms.  It’s called 5 Baby Items You Should Always Buy New Or Else You Are SO Totally The Worst Mother In The History Of The Universe.  Okay, so I added that last bit but you get my point.  The latest version of the article popped up over on Lilsugar.com, a website I generally really enjoy.

Here’s the thing:  4 of the 5 things on the list I bought used. And I’m okay with that. So okay. I wondered what y’all think about it so here is the list of baby items you should allegedly always buy new, courtesy of Heather Dale over at Lilsugar.com:

Car Seats: The reason given is that car seat designs are constantly evolving and older car seats may be recalled. I bought a new car seat. But, like my colleague, Ceridwen Morris, I really wouldn’t have a problem buying a lightly used one. Danielle Elwood is worried about expiration dates. Michelle Horton says you never know the crash history. It’s pretty easy to do a little research and find out the recall history and expiration dates. As far as crash history goes, seems to me you could have an expert check out the seat if you were that worried? Although the Lilsugar.com article states “Even if a secondhand car seat looks perfectly fine, you don’t want to take the chance and put the safety of your baby in jeopardy”, you’re telling me there is no way an expert can look at a car seat and determine it’s safe?

Cribs:  With the absolutely ridiculous price of cribs nowadays, I bought used, and no, I don’t think I was putting my child’s life at risk by using an older crib.  It was a good brand, hadn’t been recalled. According to Lilsugar.com, “Your baby will spend hours upon end in his or her crib, so you want to make sure it is a safe sanctuary and not a danger zone.”  Look, I’m not an idiot.  I can tell if a crib is old and rickety and should be replaced or if it’s a nice, solid crib worth reusing.  It almost seems as if Babies R Us is behind this list, yeah?  Like, there is a vast conspiracy to convince every mom that she must buy new if she cares about her baby at all!  In fact, I just remembered that my mother-in-law shipped us my husband’s bassinet that she used when he was a baby.  He is nearly 40.  I used that bassinet all the time.  It is solid craftsmanship and it rocks.

Mattress: The used crib I bought came with a perfectly firm, nice mattress. And no, I wasn’t worried it would be “contaminated with vomit, urine and feces” as Heather Dale says. It’s plastic for godsakes!

Breast Pumps: I know, this is the one I suspect you’re probably going to give me crap about.  I purchased a used breast pump from this place and feel perfectly fine about it.  $300 for the electric pump I like is highway robbery. I got mine for $125 and it is awesome. First time around I borrowed my friend’s. Those In The Know would tell me I walked a dangerous line there and I’m lucky I didn’t infect my baby with bacteria that was likely lurking everywhere in the pump. The friend whose pump I borrowed is the head nurse at a local hospital’s labor & delivery unit. I feel pretty good about my choice.  Apparently thousands of women all across Utah are okay with it too.  Our local classifieds website is constantly full of ads for breast pumps.  In fact, I put a pump on the classifieds once and it sold in an hour.  The milk doesn’t even go through the tubes on the pump I like, but it’s easy to replace tubing if that’s the case with the pump you buy. I mean, women are using other women’s breast milk for hellsake. Is there a story about a baby dying from breast pump bacteria that I don’t know about?

Soft baby slings and carriers: Again, they say these may have been subject to recalls. Okay, that’s pretty easy to find out. Google. Go to the manufacturers website and check it out. Call the company. Likely, you’d have heard about a recall involving a carrier you own… So, yet again, I just don’t get it. The original article says “make sure its straps and closures work properly so that your baby stays secure and safe” No kidding? I should make sure my carrier snaps properly? DUH.

Considering the fact that necessities like diapers (yes, I know cloth diapering is an option but that, too, can be expensive) and, for many women, formula, are so expensive, I’m a huge secondhand proponent of stuff like cribs, clothing, bedding, swings, slings, the whole nine yards. I think the only thing I bought new for Henry was binkies. I wondered if y’all always bought new or went secondhand. Do you think the companies that sell baby items are just praying on mom’s who notoriously feel guilty about everything? What are your thoughts on this one? What is the absolute one item you will always buy new?

Image: Flickr.com/dolanh

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About Monica Bielanko

monica-bielanko

Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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38 thoughts on “5 Baby Items You Should Always Buy New… Or Not?

  1. Kristi says:

    I totally agree with you! Especially regarding breast pumps…a friend gave me hers and I bought new parts for it. My newborn was just in the hospital and they let me borrow a pump to use while he was there. They also gave me new parts but the pump itself was obviously not new. So if the hospital can do it, why can’t the rest of us?

  2. k. annie says:

    Babies R us probably IS behind this list. I HATE that place. Evil. Evil. And, part of me wonders if an old crib (if it meets existing safety standards) would be safer than a new one anyway–if it was going to be recalled it would have been already.

  3. b says:

    Re: breast bumps as NEW….

    I find it ironic that they scream at you to buy them new but any check of a hospital website finds them for rent! If they can rent them, why can’t you buy them 2nd (or 3rd hand)? A few plastic replacement bits and you are good to go!

    thanks for pointing out this canard!

  4. Autoclave239 says:

    I’m a huge fan of secondhand, hand-me-down, keepin it cheap, but I’m just not comfortable using a used pump. My MIL gave me an electric one that is visibly dirty, and is “missing a gasket or something” (her words). I don’t think I’m going to be able to stomach using it, despite the fact that it’s free!

  5. Sara says:

    I think the germophobe worrywort lobby is behind these lists. I have, would or would have purchased any of these items used. Yes, even the car seat.

  6. renee says:

    The thing about the car seats, as I understand it, is that the plastic breaks down over time, so even if there’s no visible damage, a slight fender bender could make it less resilient. They actually tell you not even to re-use your OWN old car seat if it was manufactured more than five years ago, and the date should be on it. That said, I took a hand-me-down from a friend, as I knew for a fact it had never been in a crash and the seat was only about two years old. I also used a used crib, mattress, and Bjorn. Got my pump new, but then gladly handed it on.

  7. Krista says:

    I also used my MIL’s bassinet that she bought at a garage sale when my Husband was born 35 years ago. We got our crib, mattress, infant car seat and stroller off of freecycle. I bought a new pump because I knew I would be going back to work and using it a lot, so I wanted to make sure it was going to last. We were also given a used baby swing, johnny jumper, and infant chair that had been used by at least two other babies. I just washed everything before we used them.

    After we got the free car seat, I saw an article saying to NEVER use a used car seat, and my new mom pregnant self got all worried, but when I told my husband he just said, ‘the manufacturers of car seats are the ones behind these article because they want to make money’…so we stuck with the used car seat.

    I think there is way too much good used things out there, and it may take a little more effort to find what you want, but you can save so much money buying used.

  8. Amy says:

    I totally agree! It’s a conspiracy. I got a used breast pump, I used my own tubing, it’s not really a big deal. I read somewhere (I think on the medela website), that there is a possibility of giving your baby hiv if you use a used breast pump! Are you kidding! So irresponsible, just so they can get me to spend 300 dollars.

  9. Megan says:

    I borrowed a pump from my friend, who thought she was done having kids. I just bought new tubes, phlanges, and valves. She ended up with a surprise pregnancy about the time I had my daughter, so when I was done with the pump when my daughter was 10 weeks old, I just gave it back to her. Her sister used the same pump. By the time she weans her son it will have been used by 3 women for 5 kids, and she’ll probably give it back to me when I decide to have my third.

  10. Tamara says:

    as for pump rentals they are closed system pumps so even if milk backs up in the tube it doesn’t get to the motor and they sanitize those things like crazy in the hospital.

    one brand is notorious for mold growing in the pump as its an open system.

  11. Hyatt says:

    I bought my car seat used and I was thrilled because a brand new Chicco KeyFit 30 is nearly $200 and I got mine for $65. The mfg information sticker was still on it so I whipped out my smartphone in the consignment store and verified that it was not subject to a recall and when it was mfg’d so I knew when it would expire, which was still 4 years away – plenty of time for our purposes. Plus the consignment store we purchased it from has their own stringent quality control standards for the good they carry. On the other hand, I bought my crib new and it was recalled before my baby was even born – so its not there is any guarantee either way.

  12. kristen says:

    I love buying second hand baby stuff, and selling what I don’t use anymore. i DO have to make a point her (I THINK I am agreeing with you, but not sure!) CLOTH DIAPERS are so awesome to buy used! I bought an entire newborn stash of cloth diapers (about $350 worth) for $50, plus some trades. I keep my diapers in tip-top shape and will be able to sell all of them when i am done. there are even sites on facebook and other networks to make buying and selling diapers so easy ! (fluff swappers is my fave). I did just buy a new carseat for my baby coming this fall. Mine was new with may almost 2 year old, but I watched the baggage jerk-offs with Delta Airlines DROP it off the baggage ramp, and then THROW it back on! So mad, and the airlines said I had no proof of this…hello, I was watching form my window! Anyway… most second hand stuff rocks, and such is the success of stores like Once Upon A Child!

  13. Lesley says:

    I am a bad mama. I have two used car seats — bought from a friend at a garage sale in a small town so we would have heard if they had been in an accident. They are within their expiration dates. The real hazard — much much heavier than newer ones!

    I got two Babee Tenda cribs off Craigslist. They are pretty damn solid.

    I bought a second hand breast pump. After researching it, I realized that the rentals have a closed pump so nothing can get in and most single user ones don’t. But I just cleaned it with q-tips and alcohol. I bought it from a cousin. Besides, don’t women exchange breast milk? I mean, really. That seems just as risky. It seems convenient that breast milk is considered a food when regulations are in its favor (breast milk banks, keeping it in a work fridge, etc), but a dangerous bodily fluid when it benefits the pump industry.

    The real danger of a second hand pump, I learned, is that they suck. Or don’t suck. They wear out quickly and if you buy one from a woman who pumped regularly, you probably won’t have much luck.

  14. Heather Sellers says:

    Ok, out of the list that I have bought used was a Britax car seat used for a year by a family my mom knew and a crib w/ mattress I picked up at a yardsale. The car seat is still in use, no problems, 18 months later. In fact, I swear by this car seat now that I’ve had one. If I can locate another gently used one for my second, awesome! If not, I will probably by a new one w coupons to get the price more reasonable. The crib turned out to be a recalled one, so it got dumped, but the mattress was really nice so we kept it. I put one of those plastic mattress protectors on it after we sanitized it, no problems. As to the breast pump issue – my mom is a nurse and has always had issues w used pumps. The ones that are rented out can be broken down and sterilized, but the personal ones can’t be COMPLETELY sterilized within the pump itself. The main concern is the transferal of HIV or other diseases that can pass through breast milk. However, if I had a trusted friend that was clean/disease free I would have no problems borrowing her pump or allowing her to borrow mine. As far as everything, always know the history, check for recalls, and you should be safe.

  15. Lisa says:

    I agree, it’s a racket. We got almost EVERYTHING used… basinette, car seats, stroller, clothing, pump. Got a new crib from ikea because it was space efficient and didn’t weigh over 100lb like all the ones we saw on Craigslist, and cost about the same.

  16. Evin Cooper says:

    I bought EVERYTHING used.. or handed down. My son is 6 and I used his crib for our daughter when she was born 5 years later. Yes, the crib had been recalled but guess what? It was recalled because if you’re an idiot, you MIGHT put the crib together wrong. I am not the most handy girl in the world, and I put it together, by myself, 8 months pregnant, and got it right… I didn’t worry too much about my fit, smart, blue-collar hubby putting it together the 2nd time.

    It is totally a conspiracy – have you ever been to a Babies R Us? They put the low end cribs together crappily so they feel shaky and unsafe and then bolt the expensive ones together with a torque wrench. It’s all crap.

    (3rd baby doesn’t even have a crib – they all end up in my bed anyway, why bother? Crib was just something to decorate and store clean laundry in for the other two.)

  17. Lauren says:

    I bought or was given 4/5 on that list. I’m especially proud of the convertible Britax carseat I snagged for a mere $50 (versus $300+). The only thing new my daughter was bought, was a crib, but only because for $25 more I could get a non-chewed one in the color I wanted with warranty and return/refund option – totally worth it. Used rocks every time!

  18. Lauren says:

    Sorry I meant I bought used or was given used 4/5…*

  19. Sarah says:

    I am in love with Craig and his list. We bought this crib and changing table set; http://www.amazon.com/Babyletto-Mercer-Convertible-Crib-Toddler/dp/B000Z3DWHK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1307733701&sr=8-2. We got the crib, changing table, and $150 mattress for $300. I’m in love with it, and it’s in brand new condition.
    We bought a jogger for less than half the original price. I think buying used is a great way to a) Save money. b) reduce our footprint.
    Our 3.5 year old has over 300 books 99% of them are from Goodwill bought for 76cents each. The other 1% is hand-me-down books that survived my husband and my childhood. I refuse to pay $5+ for a book that I could get in new condition at Goodwill.

  20. Rhonda says:

    I think buying secondhand is absolutely fine. I had a used bassinette and a secondhand infant carseat for my son, as well as highchair and swing.

  21. Katie says:

    I have an absolutely gorgeous used crib and changing table that I bought from a friend for $200. It’s not a drop side, and it’s nicer than anything we could have afforded new. Both pieces will get used again for our next baby…as well as the crib mattress that has seen four babies already (all relatives, but still).

    I bought a new breastpump…but wish I hadn’t. A friend and I realized that due to the spacing of our pregnancies, we totally could have shared. And I have yet to figure out how ANYTHING gets from those tubes into the machine.

    Carseats were also new…but we were planning on handing them down anyways, and I wanted to make sure we started “fresh” on the expiration date thing.

    Basically, I’m a big fan of Once Upon a Child (and Clorox wipes :) ).

  22. Meagan H says:

    One issue with a crib mattress is that there is no way to really clean them so for one you get all the dust mites that have accrued over the years, which isn’t really the best things for a new baby’s immune system. Allergy sufferers are told to get a new mattress every few years(its varies depending on the material) odds are the crib mattress you buy used has been in use about the same amount of time if its not good for an adult whats it going to do to a newborn?

    Also mattresses are known for harboring disease its why most thrift stores don’t deal in them. Lung diseases in particular, croup, tuberculosis and pertussis all can be transferred into a mattress(even those with “plastic” outer covers, if air can flow through so can bacteria) and then transferred to a new owner. (the foam used in a lot of crib mattresses are actually worse for this than spring or even feather beds.)

    Also if you live in an area where bedbugs are making a comeback there’s that issue and bedbugs could be present in car seats as well. If you know where the mattress came from and cover it you should be okay but I would be wary unknown germs.

  23. eleshaj says:

    I agree that used baby items are just as useful as new ones and can save a ton of money. I bought a used car seat for my mom’s car and had no problems with it. To make sure it hadn’t been recalled, I looked on http://wemakeitsafer.com/tools/list_of_types.php?cat=Children%27s+%28All+Kid+%26+Baby%29&subcat=Baby+Gear. You can browse by category or input things you own to see if they’ve ever been recalled.

  24. Jena says:

    Just beware of bedbugs if you’re buying something secondhand. (We bought everything secondhand, just about. Except the crib. Husband will be turning that pile of lumber into a crib any day now.

  25. Jayme says:

    I agree with buying some things used. I will not use a crib thhat is second hand. There are too many dangers involved. That said, I will re-use my 2y/o’s crib for my son. We bought it new and we know it wasn’t misused or had any undue stress on it. A friend of mine took a used crib (very nice/sturdy one) from a friend and tthought nothing of it. She walked in her sons room because he was crying ands found him hanging. A slat had come out of the side and his body fit through, but not his head. She called me in hysterics and threw the crib away that day. I know that may be tthe exception and not necessarily the rule, but not worth the chance to me.

    Also, I was in a really bad car accident 5 years ago and my daughter wwas in it with me. She broke her femur and the car seat showed NO signs of stress. The firemen told me to throw it away because the structural integrity had been compromised due to the impact. Like I said, NO SIGNS on the car seat at all.

  26. Cynthia Coffey says:

    What about the millions of women around the world who somehow manage to raise their children without the wisdom of Lilsugar and a Babies R Us registry? Their children WILL SURELY DIE, right? Of course not.

  27. Lori says:

    I don’t really have the patience to shop second hand but that being said I would buy anything except a car seat and a crib used if it feel into my lap. You just cannot take a chance on a carseat when you do not know the people you are buying it from. If it was hand me down and you know the people then that is a different story.

  28. Gretchen says:

    I’m kinda with you. Definitely on the crib and the mattress, and the carriers. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t buy a used carrier, most of them are machine washable for goodness sakes.

    My first pump and bonus car seat came from a close friend – so I knew their history. I’ve been told that the risk you run by sharing a pump (that’s not designed to be shared, some of them are) is that you run the risk of exposing your infant to hep-C. I wouldn’t judge anyone for buying these things used, but I don’t feel comfortable getting them from someone I don’t know and I fortunately have the financial resources to be picky about it.

  29. therobynnest says:

    We buy a lot of our furniture for the entire house 2nd hand, or collect 1950s pieces, so I do love saving money on that kind of thing, don’t get me wrong. But I would never in a million years put a newborn to sleep on a used mattress. I am a big believer in the SIDS toxic gas theory, and if you’re using a mattress even from your own previous child, it’s recommended to wrap it in a polythene bag from babesafe for $30. There is a heavy correlation between SIDS and subsequent children using hand-me-down mattresses and spit up, sweat, shedding skins cells and mold combining with the fire retardant chemicals are the reason why. Please wrap that mattress, even if you bought a new one that isn’t 100% organic.
    http://calicoblonde.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/crib-death-prevention/

  30. saffron says:

    I would and did buy all of the above second hand EXCEPT for mattress’ in the UK the thinking is that every baby should have his/her own mattress as a precaution against SIDS.
    The NHS advise that each child should have their own new mattress’ to guard against SIDS, I really think that the NHS are not given to scare mongering, and seeing as my youngest is 12 and they have been advising new mattress’ for each child for at least that long, I think that their advice is more than likely the correct advice … don’t you?

  31. Erin says:

    I always buy car seats new, however I will pass down my daughter’s outgrown car seats to my next child and his old infant seat to the next baby. I bought both cribs new at an excellent price, but now that I have two will probably not purchase anymore. My daughter will be out of her crib by the time the next baby comes along so I will be able to use that one for the next baby. Those are the two things I stay away from used, everything else whatever!

  32. susan says:

    Not to play devil’s advocate about the borrowed breast pump topic, but hospital grade pumps are made differently than personal pumps so that even if milk backs up into the pump, it would not make it to the vaccuum part. It’s fine if one buys a used pump, but I just wanted to point out you can’t use the hospital pump argument because there is a difference.

  33. Anne-Marie says:

    There is a service in our town, and probably yours too, that will clean a breast pump. $20 later, there’s no chance my friend’s will have any bacteria in it, and since she used it four times, buying another would be such a shame!

  34. AmyM says:

    I think knowing the history of each of these items and being able to check for recalls are key to buying used or borrowing. Bacteria and viruses can only survive for so long- seconds to weeks for the most part. Another plug for cloth diapers- I used mine for 2 kids and then sold them when I was done. I don’t think I spent more than $500 and recovered at least $200 of that.

  35. Josie says:

    Just so you know, Sids and Kids in Australia recommends not using a used cot mattress, it may be a risk factor in SIDS.

  36. liarna says:

    haha, love this and the comments.
    we’re getting a new carseat purely because my parents want to get us something for baby and we’re getting a second hand cot and not using a pram (we’re going to use a sling). we bought one of those play mats and some cute leather toddler shoes for $7 all together at a garage sale … :) if we need it a friend said we can borrow her bassinet, pumps and steralizer … nothing wrong with second hand :D

  37. Lori says:

    I am all for buying used. We got our pack n play for $35. We bought an Eddie Bauer travel system for $100. I bought the Medela Swing for $50. We had just moved across the country when we found out I was pregnant. My fiance had no job and was collecting unemployment. I found work but it was only for 5 months. There would be no way we could have afforded all the items we needed without it. We were also lucky enough to have very generous family members that got us all the other items we needed, Even though we can afford to buy brand new now, I still check craigslist for the things we need.

  38. I enjoyed this post very much. I couldn’t have blogged it better. :)

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