Buying secondhand for your pregnancy, baby and toddler

Why buying secondhand could work for you, items to avoid, where to find secondhand deals and how to make sure you choose a safe product.

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Having a baby is an expensive business. According to a recent report, we parents will spend £5,000 on our baby before their first birthday. But there are ways to stick to your budget, like buying some items secondhand. From buggies to clothes, bottles to baby monitors, pre-loved pregnancy and baby gear has never been so popular.

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What to buy secondhand

You can buy pretty much anything that you want secondhand but there are certain used items that it makes sense to buy, and others that should be avoided.

Maternity clothes

Maternity clothes are easy to pick up – you only wear them for a matter of months so it’s savvy to buy them secondhand. And because they have such a short wardrobe-life, they’re usually nearly new. You can find out more about buying secondhand maternity clothes in our guide.

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Baby clothes

Everyone wants a few special outfits for their newborn but the lifespan of baby clothes is so short (sometimes only weeks), that used clothes are rarely worn-out.

You can pick them up for a fraction of the price of new. You can find out more about buying secondhand baby clothes in our guide.

Nappies

Yes, you can even buy reusable nappies secondhand if you know where to look. For hygiene reasons, eBay won’t sell previously used reusable nappies (although the American site does). However, there are other sites that recognise the value of selling on these items. Head to our guide to secondhand reusable nappies for more info.

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Buggies and toys

You should be cautious about buying buggies and toys secondhand. That’s not to say don’t buy them, more that you need to be aware of safety guidelines.

Buggies can be expensive, so it does makes sense to look for a used one.

If you do buy secondhand you need to know that Trading Standards says all buggies should comply with British Standard BS 7409 (look for the sticker).

Also check the brakes, harness and instructions. Check out our guide to secondhand buggies for more details.

Toys approved by the British Toy and Hobby Association will carry the Lion Mark, a safety standard. Check that they aren’t cracked or broken and that they are appropriate for your baby’s age. Our guide to secondhand toys has more detailed advice.

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Other secondhand baby and toddler gear bargains to be had:

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What you should never buy secondhand

You should avoid buying car seats and mattresses.

Safety experts recommend that you avoid secondhand car seats altogether. You can never be totally sure that it hasn’t been involved in an accident, even when buying from family or friends.

It’s not that they would intentionally mislead you, just that some bumps and crunches can be forgotten easily enough, but still affect the car seat.

When it comes to mattresses you need to be extra careful, too. One study, in 2002, found that using secondhand mattresses could increase the risk of cot death.

The risk is the mattress can have lost its firmness and shape, and could contain bacteria and dust mites.

See our detailed guide for more info on what not to buy secondhand.

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Where to buy secondhand items

Finding secondhand bargains is easy. Online auction sites, like eBay, list pretty much everything you could ever want but don’t rule out charity shops, car boot sales and nearly new sales too – the NCT has brilliant ones.

The advantage of a using an official company like eBay is that you’ll be protected under the Sales of Goods Act, which means that traders must sell goods (including secondhand ones) that are as described and of satisfactory quality.

However, you can still expect a bit of wear and tear.  

Asking around can also often bag you a bargain but do make sure that you do the same thorough checks as you would if you were buying online. Friends and family are a great source of used goods but it’s easy to feel pressured into accepting things that you don’t need.

Be clear that you want to see what they are offering and check it over thoroughly. And ask for some thinking time before accepting the entire contents of their loft!

Another option is Freecycle, where you actually don’t buy items but get them free. If you’re not familiar with Freecycle, Google it to find your local area’s group. Freecycle matches people who have things they don’t want or need anymore with people who can use them.

This keeps items away from landfills and gives them a second lease of life. On Freecycle, you can post both wanted ads and offered ads. It’s useful for de-cluttering your home and your child’s room as they grow up.

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What to pay

As a rule of thumb, you should never pay more than a third of the original full price of an item.

However, what you actually pay depends on where you buy it, what you buy and how good you are at bartering.

Jumble sales and car boot sales are where you’ll find the real bargains.

The competitive nature of online auction makes them more expensive, but the advantage is that they are convenient. 

Some items, such as reusable nappies, hold their value so be prepared to pay almost full price for them.

Others, especially toys, may cost you a fraction of the original price tag. 

There are very few things that can’t be recycled and sold again. Look carefully and you will find pretty much everything that your baby needs.

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