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Baby Gear Hand-Me-Downs: What's Good To Get Secondhand?

baby in crib full of clothesBaby gear can be mighty costly. If money is not an issue, there’s the question of space. And if space is not an issue, there’s the question of cluttering up the planet with piles of plastic you won’t be using for more than a year or two.

If you are lucky enough to have friends or relatives from whom you might receive a baby gear inheritance, you can spare yourself some expense. But sometimes it can be hard to know what to ask for from your generous benefactors, or how to sort the pile if you get one.  It can be tough to turn things down when they are offered. But remember, the person offering them is partly doing it because they are eager to get all this crap out of their house!

What are the best hand-me-down baby products and what are the things that are best bought new?

(This list comes to you via Ohdeedoh…I added my own commentary).

Most Controversial:

Baby Bottles and Cups. Some people are skeeved out by used sucking gear. And then there’s the plastic question. I don’t always trust that something is BPA-free unless I see it on the label. But if you aren’t so stressed out about that, hand-me-downs can be a good way to experiment with different kinds of bottles and cups. Different kinds work for different babies.

Breast Pump and Parts. Manufacturers say not to share these due to the bodily fluids factor. But in truth the only parts that come into contact with the milk are the tubes and flanges which are available separately (and inexpensively).

Furniture. This is controversial due to sheer size, or the combination of size and taste. It can be hard to turn down an expensive piece of furniture, but if it’s not something you actually want, you could be setting yourself up for some trouble. Getting rid of furniture is no easy thing, especially when you’ve got your hands full with a baby. So imagine how you’ll feel if you’re still staring at the piece in a year or two. If it doesn’t sit well with you, you might want to politely decline the offer.

Sometimes Controversial:

Clothing. There’s a wide range of taste in baby fashions. While baby clothes in good condition are usually something to be welcomed, there is then the problem of what to do if you hate them. It can be a drag to have all the pictures of your kid feature him in duckie onesies or mini Ramones T shirts if either isn’t your style. Then again, everything babies wear gets slimed on, so quantity is often of prime importance at this point.

Toys. People have some strong ideas about what kinds of things their kids should be playing with. Some people are anti-commercial characters, anti-plastic, anti-toys that make noise. It is a truth of parenting that your kid will fall in love with any toy you hate. So if you get a pile of toys that go against your principles, weed them out before your baby lays eyes on them.

Less Controversial:

Books. It’s good to have a lot of these, and if you get some you don’t like, they’re easy to pass on.

Blankets, Burpcloths Etc. Simply because you can never really have too many of these.

Gear (Strollers, Carriers, Swings, Bouncy Seats, High Chairs, Etc). It’s always nice to avoid buying expensive short term use products.  Plus you never know if your baby is going to get any use out of these things until you try them out. Baby carriers and bouncy seats/swings are especially good to try before buying to see if your baby takes to them.

Ohdeedoh’s list is accompanied by dozens of comments from parents about what secondhand baby gear they found useful, and which things went straight to the recycling bin (or the dump). See here for the full story.

photo: Andrew Bardwell/flickr

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