low cost but high risk:
safe second-hand shopping for baby equipment

Having a new baby is an expensive time, and it’s tempting to save a few pounds by buying second-hand. It could be that you already have hand-me-downs from older siblings or relatives have passed things on to you. Re-using baby kit is great – but there are some things to be wary of:

know what second hand furniture is safe to buy

always buy a new mattress

It’s best to get your new baby a fresh mattress, even if the second-hand one is still in good condition. A new mattress will give your little one greater spinal support and be more comfortable.

As well as general hygiene concerns, recent medical research suggests there may be a link between cot death and second-hand mattresses because of the bacteria inside them.[2] This is a particular risk if the mattress has come from a different home.

used car seats

The main problem with a second-hand car seat is that you don’t know its history. If the seat was in a car when an accident occurred, it may be weaker and there’s no way to tell.[1]

Even if you know the car seat’s origins, there are other concerns. Fitting it correctly is essential, which isn’t always possible with a second-hand one. Does it conform to European standards? They can be difficult to keep clean, and used ones can be unhygienic. Save money on other items, but car seats are best to buy new.

second-hand strollers: what to check

Even a reasonably new stroller that conforms to all safety standards may have been subjected to a lot of wear and tear. It’s always worth checking used strollers and prams thoroughly.

Do the brakes work? Does it fold and unfold smoothly and lock into position? Are the handles and wheels in good condition? Is there any flaking paint or rust? If the seat fabric is torn, it could weaken the structure, so give this a good check as well.

sleep safe and sound

You may have found a gorgeous vintage cot or have a traditional family cot that you slept in. But if it was made before 1973, the chances are it’s painted with toxic lead paint. And as lead paint isn’t safe for pregnant women, stripping down an old cot isn’t the best nesting project...

New cots must have:

  • bars that are between 2.5cm and 6.5cm apart
  • at least 50cm between the top of the mattress and the top of the cot sides
  • no cut-outs or steps

Any second-hand item you buy for your baby should be checked carefully. Safety standards have improved a lot in recent years and older equipment may not be as safe. If you want to save money on equipment such as car seats or strollers, shop during the sales. That way, you can still buy a bargain without compromising on safety.


[1]. Second-hand goods, ROSPA, [Accessed May 2019]

[2]. Beware second-hand cot mattresses, Which [Accessed May 2019]