Guide to buying secondhand maternity and baby clothes

What you need to consider when purchasing pre-loved maternity fashion and baby clothing

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Baby clothes can be pricey – especially when you think how quickly the items are grown out of. The good news is that lots of other babies have grown out of their clothes, so thrifty parents are always keen to sell on (or give) to another mum. The same goes for maternity clothes. You only need them for such a short space of time, so why spend a fortune? This short period of use also can mean the clothes are in a pretty good condition.

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Are there safety considerations when buying secondhand baby clothes?

Yes, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying preloved baby clothes.

Don’t buy any items that have drawstrings around the neck. Also, look out for loose buttons or other items that may fall off or be pulled off and pose a choking hazard.

If you’re buying secondhand nightwear, check to see if the nightwear carries a label saying: ‘keep away from fire’ or ‘low flammability to BS 5722’. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it, as it more than likely does not meet basic safety standard requirements. Bear in mind that you need to follow washing instructions on flame-retardant clothing, as washing at the wrong temperatures may affect flame resistance.

Sometimes, items of clothing can be recalled. You can check whether clothing has been affected by a product recall by heading to Trading Standards. Other sites that can help are Recalled Products and UKRecallNotice. Also, try doing a Google search for the product name online

How should you wash secondhand baby clothes?

Lots of mums wash all clothes, even new ones, as they can have chemical residue from the manufacturing process. It’s also best to wash all secondhand clothes, even if they seem clean, as you have no way of knowing what detergent they’ve been washed in. I was once alarmed by a rash on my newborn son, which we then traced back to a babysuit that has somehow got missed out when we washed all the secondhand clothes.

Go for a non-bio detergent for sensitive skins to be on the safe side for babies. And for older children it makes sense to use your usual detergent, in case they’re sensitive to other types.

Should you buy secondhand baby and children’s shoes?

Leather shoes mould to the child’s feet, so it’s generally considered unwise to buy secondhand shoes for growing children’s feet, as they may not fit another child properly. We would suggest that occasionally worn shoes, such as sandals, are alright to buy pre-loved.

Baby shoes – those soft little booties or ‘pre-walkers’ – are usually barely worn as babies have a neat habit of kicking them off, so they’re unlikely to be a big risk to your baby’s feet if you buy them secondhand. Remember though, that babies shouldn’t wear proper shoes until they’re toddlers and are walking properly. Also, make sure they’re not too small, so your baby’s feet aren’t constricted.

What should you check for when buying secondhand maternity clothes?

The most obvious check you need to make is about the fit. If the item has been washed a few times, it may have shrunk slightly, so try to get actual measurements, rather than “it’s a size 14.” Also remember that different countries (and different brands!) have sizes that vary.

You also need to check for holes, stains and splitting seams. Also consider the stretch factor. Many maternity items are made to stretch, obviously. But if they’ve been worn in the later stages of pregnancy, trousers, for instance, with a stretch waistband may have stretched more and be unsuitable for wearing by anyone who is in the earlier stages of pregnancy or those with a  small bump.

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How should you wash secondhand maternity clothes?

It’s a good idea to wash all secondhand clothes on the hottest wash possible. Your skin may be more sensitive when you’re pregnant, so it’s sensible to wash in the detergent you use at home to avoid the risk of irritation.

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