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Safety Tips for Buying Second-Hand Baby and Children’s Goods
When it comes to buying clothes, furniture and toys for babies and kids, the cost can definitely sky rocket.
For our family, living on one income has meant being very thrifty when it comes to buying for Elliott. There have been things that I’ve only bought brand new, things that I’ve been happy to purchasing second hand and things that I bought second hand when I really should have bought them new (i.e. the car capsule that fit into the pram).
Getting a second hand item online or at a garage sale may be a bargain and sometimes it can be fun rescuing something that would have otherwise gone to the dump, but in the end, safety is much more important than money saved.
I’ve compiled some information on what to look out for when it comes to purchasing some of the big ticket baby and children’s items second hand either online or at a garage sale.
Cot & Mattress
One of the first big ticket items we purchased was Elliott’s cot which we bought brand new.
I was very much aware that cots had to comply with mandatory standards which is one reason I felt uneasy about accepting a cot that was a family heirloom, one that my husband slept in as a baby 30 years ago. A cot of that age was most definitely not going to comply because mandatory standards started much later in 1998.
They can pose a strangulation risk, such as through clothing catching on decorative knobs. Some old cots may even be coated in dangerous lead paint. Choice.com.au states that cots that don’t meet standards can have hazards such as having gaps between bars that are too wide and can trap a child’s head or limb.
And whether or not you decide to buy a new or used cot, you should always buy a new mattress. Old mattresses could subject your little one to dust mites and droppings (yuk!) and cause asthma attacks or allergic reactions. Old mattresses also tend to have sagged and could increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Car Seats & Restraints
When I come to think of this, we really should have had our baby capsule checked before we used it, a bit of a parenting fail on my behalf. A friend of mine was kind enough to gift us a second-hand pram which came with a baby car capsule component. We didn’t use it for overly long and upgraded to a brand new Safe n’ Sound Car set.
As with cots, a car seat and child restraints should always be checked to see if they comply with mandatory standards. The Choice website states that unless you know the whole history of a child seat, there isn’t any wear and tear, fraying or cracking, give a second hand baby seat a miss. All child restraints sold in Australia must meet stringent Australian Standard requirements, considered among the toughest in the world.
I have bought some toys for Elliott second hand. I remember this toy I got for $50 online which I thought was a bargain, it was like brand new and I knew that a brand new one went for much more.
When I went to pick up the play table, I made sure I did a few things before handing over the cash, it was common sense really:
- I checked there were no loose parts or breaks
- I checked that the batteries were properly secured by screws and couldn’t easily be taken out
- I checked that there were no sharp edges or breaks
You can get heaps of great second-hand toys and save lots of money too and most of the time your child won’t even know that it’s not new. Just make sure you carry out these simple checks first.
You can find some great toys for sale on Gumtree.
Mandatory Safety Requirements for Porta Cots took place in 2009 and so if you’re considering buying a cot older than this, you may want to reconsider. Choicetesters run safety tests on the following and it’s not a bad idea that you do the same if you’re considering buying one second hand (or new for that matter):
- The folding mechanism is secure
- There are no gaps that could trap a child’s head
- The mattress is safe
- The cot has adequate warnings about safe use
- be sturdy with a stable base
- have no exposed gaps or traps
- ideally have a five-point harness that goes over the baby’s shoulders, around their waist and between their legs
- be set up at least 500mm from areas such as windows, doorways, stoves, appliance cords and curtain/blind cords as well as surfaces that the child could push against, tipping the chair over.
You can find some great deals on high chairs for sale at Gumtree.
Choice specifies that their testers check various aspects of pram and stroller safety based on the Australian standard, they look at the following (and it’s a good idea you do too).
- harness straps are adjustable and of adequate length (so that the harness both fits correctly and is free from strangulation and other hazards
- the child is securely restrained; no gaps they can slip through and the buckle is not too easy to undo
- folding mechanisms are safe and secure, and
- that there are no sharp edges or possible entrapment points for fingers or limbs (either for the child in the pram, or an adult folding/unfolding the pram).
Stability: applying about 20kg of downward force to the edge of the table to see if it tilts or tips over.
Strength of construction: putting a 50kg mass in the centre of the changing surface for 60 seconds and checks for any damage to the table.
Roll-off protection: testing whether the table will prevent a baby rolling or sliding from the change surface. The table is tilted sideways at 15° and a 15kg test cylinder is placed at the upper edge of the changing surface and released. If it rolls off the bottom edge, the table fails.
Sharp edges and protrusions: checking for any edges or points that could injure a child on the table are noted.
Finger and limb traps: checking for any gaps or holes that could trap a small finger or limb are tested with a set of special probes.
In all cases, when you’re shopping for second hand goods, always check that they comply with the mandatory standards. A list of products subject to mandatory standards can be found on the
Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.
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