How Safe Are Hand-Me-Down Baby Gear?

January 23, 2009
babies •  guest post •  kids •  news

Mothers-to-be are often flooded with hand-me-down baby gear coming from mothers, in-laws, neighbors and friends. These items can save you tons of money, but are they safe?

This month, ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, is placing pre-used cribs, toys, clothing and more under the microscope so you know when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.

Tips to spot unsafe hand-me-downs:

Bath Products:

  • Safe: Used baby bathtubs are fine as long as the lining isn’t full of mold or mildew.
  • Not Safe: If the tub has an odor of either of these, say no thanks because they can be hard to remove. Also, skip secondhand bath seats, bath rings, and inflatable tubs since they have been responsible for many deaths among babies.

Car Seats:

  • Safe: A car seat that has all its original parts and labels, has never been in a crash, and fits your car and child is OK.
  • Not Safe: Products more than six years old are outdated, and most likely too run down to be considered safe.


  • Safe: Any crib that was manufactured after the year 2000 should be fine, as long as it is not broken or missing any pieces.
  • Not Safe: Prior to 2000, cribs were held to different safety standards, and will not be acceptable for your baby, even if you slept soundly in them. Any crib with cutouts in the headboard, and corner posts over sixteen inches pose serious risks for a child’s safety.

High Chairs:

  • Safe: Say yes to a hand-me-down high chair if it has a five-point harness to prevent your child from climbing out and a fixed crotch post that prevents him/her from sliding out the bottom.
  • Unsafe: Old fashioned wooden high chairs with removable trays or arms are considered dangerous and uncomfortable for the baby, in addition to not being up to newer product safety standards.


  • Safe: Strollers made after 2007 when new safety standard were published are safe.
  • Unsafe: Any stroller made prior to that date, or has missing, loose, or broken pieces is not.


  • Safe: Stuffed animals and most children’s books make fine hand-me-downs. In the case of lead contamination in used toys, there are many home lead inspection kits which can be purchased for under twenty dollars which will tell you whether the toys are safe.
  • Unsafe: Avoid any toys that are chipped, as well as any small parts that can fit through a tube of toilet paper, since they present serious choking hazards for small children.

Used Clothing:

  • Safe: As long as buttons and snaps are on tight and none of the thread is unraveling from the fabric, the used clothing is fine.
  • Unsafe: Pass on any article of clothing with drawstrings because they pose a strangulation hazard.

Courtesy of the March 2009 issue of ShopSmart

Aloha for stopping by Jennifer, BlapherMJ, Muthering Heights, Heather, Cat @ 3 Kids and Us, Matt, Teri, and Lori Downs

8 Comments on “How Safe Are Hand-Me-Down Baby Gear?”

January 23, 2009
11:51 pm

Lori Downs said:

I totally agree with this list! Excpet i would never use a used mattress for the crib!!


Teri said:

Thanks for the info! It always helps to review this periodically. Have a good weekend!


matt said:

Good info. Being the younger of two kids, I had a lot of experience using hand me downs.


Cat @ 3 Kids and Us said:

Do you have any more information on the stroller changes that happened in 2007? I wasn’t aware of this one.


Heather said:

Oh, thank you so much for posting that!! I am always curious as to whether or not I should be forcing my used baby stuff on expectant mothers. Now that I know the protocol, I’ll know what’s worth keeping and what’s worth throwing out!

Thanks for stopping by ADaywithJake! And, come back for our Meme Giveaway!

Great blog, by the way! Hope you don’t mind if I stop by more often!


Muthering Heights said:

Oh my goodness, I get so freaked out when my MIL, a pediatric nurse, tries to make my kids sleep in this rickety, old, wooden mini-crib at her house. I think I ought to email this post to her as a reminder!


BlapherMJ said:

This is a great list…. I’ll be sending to my brother who just had his 1st child! :-)


Jennifer said:

Great list. I had a lot of hand me downs. I replaced the crib mattress (those are not expensive) and I never, ever took a used car seat.

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