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How to buy for baby second hand

All you need to know about buying for your baby second hand
Why shop second hand?

While buying brand new goodies for your baby is always exciting, it can be a costly experience. Not least because babies grow so fast that getting your money's worth out of anything can be a chore!

Shopping second hand can be a really economical way to make sure that your baby has everything they need without blowing your budget.

Once you start looking you'll see that there are some real bargains to be had. Baby 'seconds' are usually in good shape and you'll find yourself picking up things that have barely been used for a fraction of their 'recommended retail price'. However, as with anything baby related it does pay to be picky, so we share all you need to know about buying cheaply and safely for your baby second hand.

Where to shop second hand

Family and friends -
Buying or borrowing from family or friends is always a good place to start when you're looking for seconds. You're almost guaranteed to get a good deal and will have access to the full history of any item that your baby is going to be interacting with.

NCT sale -
Dedicated NCT Nearly New sales are a great place to pick up some good quality baby bargains. You may end up paying slightly more for things that you would at a jumble sale but the standard of goods on offer is usually a lot better.

Jumble sales and car boot sales -
These can be a good place to pick up clothes and toys although the quality will vary considerably and you will need to rummage!

Charity & second hand shops -
It's always worth taking a look in charity and second hand shops as people can throw away real gems when they have a clear out. You should however bear in mind that you may end up paying a little more than with a direct sale as the shop will have overhead costs to cover.

Classified ads -
This can be a good place to find larger, more expensive items that aren't suitable for giving away. Check out your local paper for an up to date list of second hand baby goods available in your area.

Online auctions -
Online auction websites can be a good place to find baby seconds and you can often pick up some great bargains. However, do remember that because of the overheads and postage costs involved you may end up paying a little extra. By shopping this way you also miss out on the chance to thoroughly examine the goods before you buy which is a definite down side.

How much should you pay?

Ultimately this depends on what you're buying, who you're buying from, how much the item has been used and how willing you are to haggle. However, for a good quality item you should expect to pay around a third of the price you would if the product was brand new. For this reason it's always a good idea to do your research when you're buying more expensive baby goods.

Things to be aware of

Car seats -
Car seats are one of few items that you should buy brand new as even minor collisions can cause unseen damage that compromise your baby's safety.

Prams, pushchairs and buggies -
Make sure any second hand pushchair complies to the latest safety standards (BS 7409:1996 or EN 1888), feels stable and has a 5 point harness. It should be fitted with two separate locking devices to stop it collapsing, the brakes should be in good working order and the tyres should be evenly but not excessively worn. You should also check the pushchair is clean, intact and comes with full instructions.

Cots, travel cots and moses baskets -
When looking to buy a second hand cot you should check it conforms to safety standard BSEN716, has no large cut out designs that baby could trap themselves in, and bars spaced no wider than 45mm - 65mm apart (roughly the size of a fizzy drink can). The cot should be stable and clean with no flaking paint or splintering wood.

Cot mattresses -
FSID recommend that you buy a new mattress for each new baby as this can help to reduce the risk of cot death. For this reason it is a good idea to buy a brand new, good quality mattress for your baby even if you are buying a second hand cot. Do make sure that the mattress fits the cot well though.

High chairs -
These should be stable, clean and hygienic with both the fabric and tray intact. Look for a model with a secure, 5 point harness and proper feet rather than wheels.

Clothes -
Providing they are in good quality and you wash them before your baby wears them, second hand clothes are usually a safe bet. Do make sure you avoid items with draw strings around the neck, loose buttons and leather shoes (as these will have moulded to the previous wearers feet). It's also important to check the label for fire advice. Baby clothes approved safe for wear in the UK will usually state 'low flammability to BS5722' in black labels or 'keep away from fire' in red labels on the label.

Toys -
When buying second hand toys you should check for the CE or Lion mark as this will signify they have been approved as safe for use in the UK. You should also make sure they are in good shape, with no broken parts or sharp corners. Toys should come with their instructions and be appropriate for your child's age.

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I very rarely buy toys new as you can get some fantastic bargains from charity shops. I've had numerous items which are so little used they still feature in some of the major toy retailers catalogues. The only things I wouldn't buy are those which cannot be thoroughly washed (eg soft toys that specify surface clean only). I look for well known brand names such as ELC, Mothercare, Fisher-Price etc. Many of the more responsible charity shops will mark items that don't have the CE mark to alert buyers.
by Dob 26th Feb 2009, 9:29am