Cheap is the new cool these days, at least in baby-gear shopping. We all want the best for our kids, and sometimes this means splurging on a few things, but we also want to be practical—especially in this day and age. Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you’re not trading quality for price. Here are some tips on finding the best deals on used baby items.
Clothing: Always look for stains, torn seams and frayed hems—these are the most common flaws. Sometimes they’re easily fixed, but some are just beyond repair. Most resellers set strict standards on what they put on the rack, but making sure is largely the buyer’s job. If possible, try the clothes on your kid and picture possible alterations.
Tables and chairs: The most common issue with furniture is wobbly legs, so check for those first. Lean chairs back as far as it’ll go to see that there are no loose joints. If there’s upholstery, look underneath to see how the springs are holding up. Sagging seats are a no-no—they’re hard to fix and are likely to just get worse over time.
Appliances: The best places to find nursery fittings are pawnshops and garage sales. Come to the store with an extension cord so you can test items yourself—never take the seller’s word for it, even if there’s a guarantee (and there should be). Keep heating appliances plugged in for more than a few minutes to make sure they don’t shut off after a while—this is a common problem with used items.
Cribs and beds: Cribs should always come with certification seals; this indicates that they meet national safety standards. The slats should not be too far apart, and beddings should be snug and comfortable. If you’re buying beds for older kids, check the guardrail and frame, making sure there’s no space wide enough for a child to get stuck in. The guardrails should be solid and tall enough to prevent falls.
Car seats and carriers: Many carrier models have been recalled due to safety issues, so first make sure you’re not buying a recalled piece. A common issue is that the handle locks sometimes open up when not strapped to the car, causing the baby to fall. You should also make sure all other straps are sturdy and in place, and that the cushions are still firm with no snags.