Hand-Me-Down Etiquette

Giving and receiving secondhand and hand-me-down baby gifts often brings up questions for expectant parents and the people who are giving them gifts.  Here are some rules to follow to keep the exchange a positive experience for everyone.

For the Gift Giver

Make sure the recipient wants the baby gift before you give it.

Even though you may want to pass on something that worked wonders in your household, the expectant parents may not want that baby item: it’s possible they already have it, don’t have the space in their home, don’t wish to use that item, would like to use or not use specific colors or themes, and so on.  Encore Baby Registry makes this easy by allowing parents to register for the specific hand-me-down and secondhand items they need.  If you don’t see the baby item on your friend’s registry, but still think they should consider it, send them a message using the “Send registrant a message” link near the top of each registry page to ask if they would like to have the baby item.

Verify that the baby item is in good condition.

How would you feel if this item was given to you or someone close to you?  Would you welcome the item as a gift for your own child in its current condition?  Would you pay money for this item at a children’s consignment store?  The baby item should be free of stains, odors, holes, and tears; have all of its parts (including instructions); should not have been recalled; and all zippers, buttons, snaps, and clasps should be fully in tact and functioning properly.  For help locating instructions/owner’s manuals and replacement parts, go to our Instructions/Manuals and Replacement Parts Index.  For more information about detailing services that clean and repair baby gear, check out our blog post here.

Decide ahead of time whether you are giving a hand-me-down baby item permanently or loaning it (and stick to your decision).

Encore Baby Registry is designed to support clear communication about whether each baby item is something to keep or borrow/loan.  If you would like to loan a baby item to a registrant, make sure this matches the registrant’s wishes (to keep or return) by looking at their registry.

If your gift is a hand-me-down loan, make sure that it’s replaceable or that you won’t be upset if you don’t get it back.

Accidents happen, things get lost, and diaper blowouts take place unexpectedly.  If you will be devastated if something happens to the Christening gown that has been passed down from generation to generation in your family, then don’t loan it.  It won’t be much help to the recipient if they are afraid to use it.

Label loaned baby items when possible, especially baby clothes.

A new, sleep-deprived mom is not likely to remember which five gowns size 0-3 months, three footsie pajamas size 6-9 months, and 4 pairs of pants size 9-12 months need to be returned to you when her baby has outgrown them.  Writing your initials on the tag in permanent marker or affixing a name label is a quick way to make things easier for both of you.

For the Gift Receiver

Don’t underestimate the value of a hand-me-down baby gift.

It may seem like a baby item must not hold any value for the giver if they don’t have any more use for it.  In reality, by giving the hand-me-down to you the gift giver is giving up some other kind of value (a tax write-off for donating the item, money from selling or consigning the item, keeping the item for future pregnancies, the opportunity to give the item to someone else, and the list goes on).  The gift giver may have also spent money on replacement parts, sending the item to the dry cleaners, or otherwise fixing up the baby item before giving it as a gift.

Decide ahead of time whether you wish to borrow a hand-me-down baby item or keep it permanently (and stick to your decision).

Encore Baby Registry is designed to support clear communication.  Both you and your guests are asked to select whether the gift is something to keep or borrow/loan.  In order to help you keep track of what should be returned and to whom, this information is stored in each Encore Baby Registry account.

Don’t underestimate the value of a loaned hand-me-down baby gift.

If you have chosen to ask for hand-me-down baby items in your Encore Baby Registry that you are open to giving back, don’t overlook the value of these loans.  Giving a gift as a loan may sound like an oxymoron, but don’t be fooled.  There is value bestowed upon the user of the gift while they are using it and given up by the giver of the gift while it is on loan (the opportunity to loan the baby item to someone else as a gift or barter and the normal wear and tear on the baby item from extra use).

If you are borrowing a baby item, be conscious of the proper time to give it back.

Find out if the giver has a specific timeline for when they need the hand-me-down item back (are they expecting or planning to get pregnant soon?).  If not, make sure to give the hand-me-down baby item back promptly when you are done with it.

If something happens to a baby item while borrowing it, fix it.

If a part is broken or damaged while you are borrowing the hand-me-down baby item, make sure to fix or replace the damaged part.  If the item is irreparable, offer to replace it.