Pregnant woman looking a baby gifts.


Baby Hand-Me-Downs to Avoid

Preparing for the arrival of your baby can be expensive. With all of the nursery items, clothes, diapers, furniture, and equipment, the price tag quickly grows. Luxury strollers can even cost as much as rent or even an old car! While there are always budget-friendly items, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that it costs roughly $13,000 per year to raise a child. While lifestyle and geographic location can impact this number, most expecting parents do what they can to cut costs. One of the best ways to reduce your expenses when you’re pregnant is to accept hand-me-downs. However, there are some items that you should buy new or avoid altogether. To help you better compartmentalize your shopping list, here are a few baby hand-me-downs to avoid.


Important Information on Recall and Safety

Before you accept anything, check the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to see if it’s been recalled. This is a comprehensive list with information or warnings on new and used baby items. When a product is recalled, it’s usually for a good reason and therefore, you should not accept it as a hand-me-down. This can apply to everything from cribs and highchairs to toys or clothing, so bookmark their website and visit it regularly.

You should also check the age of the items you’re accepting. Since many safety regulations change over time, products that are 10 years older or more may not be considered safe any longer. The regulations tend to only change if there’s an increase in risk of injury or death, so it’s simply not worth the anxiety that will follow. It’s better to spend a few extra dollars and gain the confidence that your baby is safe. This is especially important in regard to cribs, baby mattresses, highchairs, car seats, and changing tables.


8 Hand-Me-Down Baby Products to Avoid

When you announce that you’re pregnant, you’ll probably receive an influx of messages from friends and family expressing their excitement. Many of these messages will likely contain offers of second-hand furniture or hand-me-down clothing and toys. While this can help you avoid overspending, the following eight items should be avoided.


  1. Pacifiers or Bottles

    While pacifiers and bottles can be sanitized, you should avoid accepting discolored or clearly degrading products. Since they’re fairly affordable, you may want to consider bypassing pacifier or bottle hand-me-downs altogether. Small, microscopic tears that aren’t noticeable can be breeding grounds for bacteria and may not be as easy to sanitize. Since your baby will be putting this in their mouth, contamination could lead to illness or create other side effects. Stick to buying these new and if they get a tear or rip in them while your baby is using them, toss them out.

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  2. Stuffed Animals

    Second-hand stuffed animals should be avoided entirely. In fact, try not to accept stuffed animals as a gift unless they’re clearly new and still have the tags attached. Second-hand stuffed animals can be filled with bacteria, mold, and other dangerous pathogens. Since most stuffed animals (i.e., plush toys) aren’t machine washable, there’s no way to confidently clean and disinfect these items. If a friend or family member is being persistent about their toy, feel free to accept it and only use it for display.


  3. Bath Toys

    Bath toys may seem like they’re easy to clean, but they’re also susceptible to mold and mildew growth over time. While they’re designed to be used in the water, they’re not completely immune from damage. Plus, you won’t really be able to tell or test out bath toys for safety, so it’s best to purchase new ones that you know are free of any contaminants.


  4. Certain Items of Clothing

    Most clothing can be graciously accepted, as long as it’s washed before use. Babies go through a lot of outfits and having extras is always a good idea. However, there are some instances where you should say, “no thank you” to clothing hand-me-downs.

    One type of clothing that you should avoid is any outfits that have drawstrings on them. While they may make for a cute outfit, drawstrings present a strangulation hazard. If you happen to receive clothing with drawstrings that you want to keep, simply remove them before dressing your child with them.

    If someone gives you hand-me-down clothing that you just don’t like, don’t accept it. Stockpiling clothes you won’t use is only going to add excess clutter to your home, which is not something you need when trying to care for a newborn. Clothing with visible stains or rips are also not usually worth taking, unless you want to try to clean or repair them.


  5. Compression Garments

    Postpartum compression garments are helpful during your recovery, but it’s best to work with your doctor to find a perfect fit for your body. Purchasing these new is recommended. Contact your insurance provider to see if they offer any coverage for maternity and/or postpartum garments. There are many insurance policies that include medically necessary garments, which can be acquired with a prescription or recommendation from your doctor.


  6. Car Seats

    Car seats should be bought new to make sure that they actually do their job in the case of an accident. While these can carry a high price tag, hand-me-downs can be dangerous. Once a car seat has been in an accident, even if it’s a small one, it should be inspected. Oftentimes, replacing a car seat after an accident is important, but in certain instances it may still meet safety standards. Since it’s impossible to know the history of second-hand car seats, it’s best to get your own. You can reuse car seats with additional children since you know their history but check the CPSC website for recalls as the time of purchase gets further away. Not having the right car seat, or one that adheres to safety standards, puts your child in danger and jeopardizes their safety.


  7. Older Furniture

    Some furniture can be accepted as a hand-me-down item, especially if it’s easy to clean and isn’t too old. However, as mentioned, old furniture can have safety risks like potential recalls or missing parts. Err on the side of caution, make sure to check the CPSC website, and if you’re not sure, just say no. When it comes to your baby, saving a few dollars is not worth the risk of harm or injury. If you’re considering a hand-me-down crib, just make sure that it was made after 2011 and all of the pieces are intact. You should also purchase a new crib mattress since they’re difficult to wash. Second-hand highchairs should have a fixed crotch post, lockable wheels, and the proper safety restraint system.


  8. Breast Pumps

Finally, breast pumps should not be shared. Breast pumping is a great way to supplement nursing sessions and provide new moms with a ton of benefits. However, since they’re exposed to bodily fluids, they shouldn’t be shared between moms. Luckily, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new and expecting mothers are eligible to receive an insurance covered breast pump at zero out of pocket cost to you. Contact your insurance provider to determine your coverage details and work with a trusted medical supply company like Byram Healthcare to access some of the top breast pumps from leading brands.


What to Do After Accepting a Hand-Me-Down

Before you begin using hand-me-down items, make sure that you carefully examine them. This should be more than a simple glance. Check for signs of damage, missing parts, structural stability, and potential choking hazards. Items that you plan to use with your baby should not have any rust, sharp edges, or fraying fabric. If things look good, the next thing you need to do is thoroughly clean your hand-me-downs. Even if you got your items from a family member or trusted friend, cleaning them will remove mildew, dust buildup, and any lingering pathogens. Always wash baby clothes that you receive second-hand prior to using them

If you’re offered hand me downs for your newborns, you can accept them and examine the items carefully or politely decline. Don’t feel like you need to accept everything that’s given to you either. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you’re also eligible to receive a free breast pump. Byram Healthcare has a wide range of insurance covered breast pumps available at zero out of pocket cost to you. Get started with our simple, three-step ordering process today.