Where to find the best bargains, the safety symbols to look out for, and the preloved items you SHOULDN'T buy. Here's everything you need to know about second-hand baby stuff.
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Having a baby can be an expensive business.
From cots to buggies, toys to baby clothes … when you’re preparing for your newborn’s arrival, costs soon mount up.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune to kit out your kids.
If you know where to look, there are plenty of second-hand baby bargains to be had, with many saving you £££s on the original price.
And buying pre-owned is good for the planet, too, preventing lots of barely used items ending up in landfill.
If you want to bag yourself some baby bargains, here's everything you need to know, including what’s safe to buy second-hand and where to find the best preloved baby gear deals.
Where can I buy second-hand baby stuff?
From auction sites to NCT sales, there are lots of places to find some preloved bargains. Here's what you need to know:
Friends and family
When you're looking for second-hand baby stuff, friends and family with young children are a good port of call. They often have baby gear they no longer need and may well give you first dibs and a few freebies.
You'll know that the seller is trustworthy and what kind of home the goods come from, too. For example, you'll be able to check that no one has smoked around the products you're getting, so your baby won't be exposed to third-hand smoke clinging to them.
NCT Nearly New sales
NCT sales are a great place to bag a second-hand bargain as everything being sold is baby or child related. They also have strict safety guidelines in place about what can and can't be sold.
Some of the larger sales can have big queues so get there early if there's something specific you're looking for. Find an NCT Nearly New sale near you, here .
Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Freecycle
You often find cheap, and even free, pre-owned baby items on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Freecycle. These are usually being sold in your local area so are easy to pick up.
Before you start browsing, make sure you know which baby items are safe to buy second hand. And find out if there are any safety symbols you should be looking out for.
Check out the 'what should I look out for' and 'baby items I shouldn't buy second hand' sections below for rules and regulations, plus health and safety tips.
eBay and online auctions
The beauty of eBay and other online auctions is that most things you order will be delivered to your door – handy if you're ordering larger second-hand items like pushchairs or baby furniture.
Many auction sites have policies to protect buyers. eBay has a Money Back Guarantee , which means if an item isn't as described or doesn't arrive, you may be entitled to a refund.
Look out for health and safety symbols, as while most auction sites have rules in place about what can and can't be sold, some sellers ignore them. It's also worth noting that items being sold from outside the UK may not comply with British safety standards.
Charity shops, jumble sales and car boot sales
Charity shops, car boot sales and jumble sales are great places to find baby bargains, often at very low prices. The amount of stock on offer won't be as much as at a specific baby sale though, so you may need to do some digging.
Keep an eye out for any health and safety markers, damage and signs of wear and tear.
Preloved children's clothing boutiques
A good place to pick up designer baby clothes at a fraction of the cost, preloved children's clothing boutiques can be found online and offline. Clothes are usually cleaned and checked for quality, wear and tear, and damage before being sold.
What should I look out for when buying second-hand baby gear?
The health and safety of your child is top priority, so here's what you should be looking for when you buy baby items second hand.
Second-hand baby clothes
Babies grow so quickly in the first few months that many second-hand baby clothes are barely worn. If you're lucky, you'll even find designer baby clothes at a fraction of the price, and unworn outfits being sold with the tags on.
When buying baby clothes, check that any zips, fasteners or buttons are secure and there are no unravelling seams. Also look out for cords or drawstrings around the neck, as these could prove a choking hazard.
If you're buying nightwear, look for labels saying:
- KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE (printed in red)
- LOW FLAMMABILITY TO BS 5722 (printed in black)
If nightwear doesn't have at least one of these labels, it may not meet safety standards .
When buying pre-used toys, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says you should:
- Look for the CE symbol. This shows the toy complies with European safety requirements. You can also look for a yellow triangle with a red lion inside it - this logo also indicates that the toy complies with safety standards.
- Check the toy is suitable for the age you're buying for, especially if you're buying for a baby or toddler under three years old. If the box or instructions containing this information is missing, look for details on the manufacturer's website.
- Make sure toys haven't become dangerously worn, revealing sharp points and edges or filling materials.
- Steer clear of toys with detachable small parts, which could be a choking hazard.
- Wash stuffed toys in hot water to get rid of germs before giving them to children.
Second-hand prams, pushchairs and buggies
Prams, buggies and pushchairs can be one of your biggest expenses when you're preparing for a new arrival. There are big savings to be made by buying second hand and you may be able to afford a brand that was previously out of your price range. There are a few safety points to look out for, though.
RoSPA says you should:
- Look for a reference to a safety standard – this will usually be BS 7409 or BSEN 1888:2003.
- Check that all harnesses have five straps.
- Check the brakes work and there is no damage including sharp edges and worn fabric.
- Remember that non-reclining seats aren't suitable for babies under six months.
- Check that the product hasn't been involved with a product recall.
You might want to invest in a good fabric cleaner that will get rid of stubborn stains, which is natural, organic and safe to use around your baby. This one from BuggyLOVE ticks all the boxes and you can find it here at Amazon.
And for more hints and tips, check out our How to buy a second-hand pushchair guide.
Second-hand cots can be a good way to save money. Alongside checking for wear and tear, make sure cots:
- Meet British Safety Standards BS EN 716:2008 . This information should be in the instructions or marked on the bottom of the cot. If the instructions have been lost, you can usually download a copy from the manufacturer's website.
- There should be at least 50cm between the mattress and the top of the cot.
- Cot bars should be vertical and no more than 6.5cm apart to avoid your baby's head getting stuck
- If the cot has a drop-down side, make sure this works properly and that it can't be lowered by a child. If in doubt, it's safer not to use it
- Remove any stickers or transfers, which could be a choking hazard
- Make sure there are no cut outs or ledges that will allow your baby to climb out
- Look for anything sticking out of the top rail, which could catch on your baby's clothes
- If you're buying a second-hand cot, it's generally considered safest to replace the mattress as there’s some evidence that bacteria in old mattresses could increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
For more hints and tips check out our How to buy a second-hand cot guide .
Second-hand electrical items
If you're planning to buy anything electrical second-hand, such as a baby monitor or bottle warmer, always check carefully to make sure that the cord isn't worn or frayed.
Ideally, electrical items should be PAT tested (Portable Appliance Testing). This will tell you if the appliance is safe.
If that's not possible, at least be sure to see the product plugged in and working before you buy it.
Are there any baby items I shouldn’t buy second-hand?
While there are lots of great pre-owned baby bargains to be had, you should be cautious when buying the following items:
Second-hand car seats
Current advice is that you should NEVER buy a second-hand car seat (this includes those that come with a travel system). This is because you don't know its history.
The seat could have been dropped or involved in an accident and damage isn't always visible. A car seat might look fine from the outside, but the internal structure could have been affected, meaning the seat won't protect your child.
Second-hand car seats are usually older models, too, meaning they might not meet current safety standards.
If you're offered a car seat by a friend or family member, only accept it if you know it definitely hasn't been involved in an accident. You should also:
- Check carefully for damage.
- Make sure it has instructions so you know how to fit it correctly.
- Try it in your car to ensure it fits securely.
- Check it's suitable for your child's weight and height.
- Check the seat meets R44.04 or R129 car seat regulations. This information should be marked on the seat or a label.
Second-hand cot mattresses
There is a small amount of evidence that says second-hand mattresses brought in from outside the family home could increase the risk of SIDS, though we need more evidence to be sure.
To be on the safe side, if you're buying a second-hand cot, it's best to replace the mattress.
If you do choose a second-hand mattress, The Lullaby Trust recommends that you make sure:
- it was previously completely protected by a waterproof cover
- it's in good condition with no rips or tears
- it's firm and flat
Second-hand items involved in a product recall
Lots of toys and baby products are recalled for safety reasons but many will still be for sale second hand. If you're worried an item has been recalled you can check for recent product recalls on Trading Standards or search for the item on the manufacturer's website.
Second-hand baby items to be aware of
The following items can't be sold at NCT Nearly New sales because of hygiene and safety concerns. It's worth bearing in mind if you're thinking about buying any of them second hand.
- Bednest cribs – these are no longer available new but you may find one for sale second hand. They can't be used unless modified as there is a risk of injury or death.
- Bag-style baby slings – it's rare to find these on sale anymore but if you see one second hand, avoid it and tell the seller of your concerns as they can restrict a baby's breathing.
- Baby hammocks – there are concerns about safety as your child is not sleeping on a flat surface.
- Cot bumpers – can present a strangulation and suffocation risk.
- Sleep positioners, nests and anti-roll products – suffocation risk.
- Baby food, formula and second-hand baby bottles – for hygiene reasons.
- Breast pumps – for hygiene reasons.
- Hand-knitted toys or baby clothes secured by a drawstring – can be a choking hazard.
- Bumbo floor seats – injury risk.
Some experts also advise against buying second-hand shoes for your baby. This is because each child's feet develop in a unique way, and second-hand shoes might be moulded to the wrong shape for your child. In any case, it's worth noting that babies don't actually need shoes until they're walking confidently outside.
What are my rights when buying second-hand baby stuff?
Your rights when buying second-hand baby goods depend on where you bought them.
From an online retailer
If you bought your second-hand baby items from an online retailer you're protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations. This means you can cancel your order from the moment you placed it to up to 14 days after you received your products.
You're also covered by the Consumer Rights Act. This means if goods are faulty and you weren't made aware of it when buying second-hand, you can claim a refund, repair or replacement.
From a private seller
If you bought from a private seller then the goods must be as described – for example they can't say they're new if they're not – but sellers don't have to disclose any faults. This is why it's wise to check second-hand baby stuff throughly before buying.
If you want to return goods you will need to come to an agreement with the seller. If it's a high-worth item and nothing is resolved you may need to take them to the small claims court.
How can I sell my used baby stuff?
Once you've finished with your baby stuff there are a number of places you can sell it on to make a bit of extra cash. These include online sites like eBay and Gumtree, NCT sales, car boots and second-hand baby boutiques. Or you can donate it to charity shops and friends who are expecting and enjoy the good karma.
Have you bought second-hand items for your baby? Share your tips in the forum thread below
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small amount of money if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our articles and reviews are written independently by the Netmums editorial team.