Giving and using secondhand and hand-me-down baby gifts is a great way to give new life to outgrown baby gear while also saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. In order to do so safely, gift givers and receivers should always verify that used baby products are in good working condition, meet current safety guidelines, include all parts and instructions, and have not been recalled.
Check our Product Recall Search page to see if an item has been recalled.
If you wish to view government recall publications directly:
- United States
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Recalls and Product Safety News
- Car seat safety is overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For information about car seat recalls, call the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit the NHTSA Website.
- Healthy Canadians Recalls and Product Safety Alerts
Instructions and Owner’s Manuals
The owner’s manual is integral in ensuring safe use of both new and used baby gifts. It includes important information including assembly and use instructions, as well as warnings and limitations, such as height, weight and developmental requirements (for example, “child must have head and neck control”). For help locating instructions and owner’s manuals online, check our Instructions/Manuals and Replacement Parts Index.
To be safe and used as tested and intended by the manufacturer, hand-me-down baby gifts need to include all parts. Many manufacturers of baby goods offer replacement parts. For help locating replacement parts, check our Instructions/Manuals and Replacement Parts Index.
The safety and use of secondhand breast pumps is a hotly debated topic. For information about breast pump regulations, breast pump system types and used breast pump safety, take a look at our Safety Considerations for Secondhand Breast Pumps page.
The importance of a car seat cannot be understated in maintaining the safety of your child. If you are thinking about using a hand-me-down car seat, read our Safety Considerations for Secondhand Car Seats page for guidelines to consider.
Babies spend a great deal of time sleeping, often in cribs, which are one of the very few places that babies are left unsupervised. If you are thinking about using a hand-me-down crib, read our Safety Considerations for Secondhand Cribs page for guidelines to consider. If you have a crib that no longer meets current safety standards, check out our blog article on repurposed crib projects for ideas to keep your old crib out of the landfill.
Some studies state findings of a correlation between the use of a used crib mattress and an increased incidence of SIDS. Much is still unknown about the cause of SIDS. It is important that registrants and guests who are considering receiving or giving a used crib mattress research this topic to make an informed decision.
The CPCS defines a play yard as “a framed enclosure that includes a floor and has mesh or fabric sided panels primarily intended to provide a sleeping or playing environment for children. It also may fold for storage or travel” (unlike a crib, which is hard-sided). The most recent CPSC safety standards for play yards went into effect on February 28, 2013. Unlike the new standards for hard-sided cribs that make it illegal to sell older model cribs that do not meet the new standards, older model play yards that do not meet the new standards and have not been recalled can be sold legally. WeMakeItSafer has a great break-down of the new standards and what they mean.
Beyond the CPSC’s play yard safety standards, make sure there are no tears or holes (no matter how small) in the mesh side panels, as these can become enlarged and pose the threat of strangulation or entrapment (this also goes along with hand-me-down etiquette, especially for registry gifts, that baby gear should be free of holes, stains, odors, etc.)
Infant shoes, which are mostly for looks and for keeping little feet warm in colder climates, are perfect secondhand and hand-me-down gifts since they get minimal (if any) wear and tear. Used soft-soled shoes, like Robeez and Momo Baby, worn by babies who are crawling and learning to walk are also great for handing down because the sole is usually a simple piece of leather, which can easily be assessed for excessive wear. Things get more complicated when toddlers graduate to hard-soled shoes. The footbeds of hard-soled shoes mold to the first child’s feet and the soles wear based on that child’s gait and stride, which are not going to be the same as the next child’s, making hard-soled shoes bad candidates for buying used. Although truly “used” toddler shoes should be avoided, keep an eye out for secondhand shoes that were never actually worn.