The ultimate guide to buying preloved items for your baby
Towards the end of your pregnancy and throughout the early years of your child's life. Well-meaning relatives and friends will offer you hand me downs of their own little people. As a first time parent, the word hygiene looms very large in your head and you are unable to decide where to draw the line about accepting pre-loved baby items.
We at the nestery believe strongly believe in sustainability and as a result in the three words that rock our worlds. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
We have put together a list of 10 things that can be bought second hand subject to a few caveats.
Clothes: We buy 400% more clothing than we were purchasing 2 decades ago. The cost of clothing has decreased drastically in the same period. Baby clothes come in 3 month increments and this means that every baby goes through four size changes in the first year alone. Even if we are conscious about handing them off to our lesser privileged folks, a considerable percentage simply ends up in landfills. Pre-loved clothes is great. We have all worn it at different points. We know that the standards for your baby are different but there is no, zip, nada difference between new and preloved clothes, if the clothes are washed well before using. This gives you a larger selection palate at a fraction of the price. There are many pre-loved baby items groups on facebook both in India and abroad.
Things to keep in mind while buying preloved clothes.
- No unravelling threads that can constrict digits of the child
- No choking hazards
Cots: Outside of India, baby cots/cribs are subject to stringent safety regulations. In India, there are not any specific safety regulations or safety standards that need to be adhered to while selling a cot/crib. That said, purchasing a second hand cot/crib is similar to purchasing any other piece of furniture. However, there are a few things that you must ensure while buying a preloved cot.
- No peeling paint
- No cuts or splinters in the wood
- No broken or rusted hardware
- Teething rails with mouthing safe rails
- The distance between the rails should not be more than 7 cms
- If the cot has a drop side, ensure that the hinge is safe
- If it has wheels, sound braking system and no bum wheels.
- No loose parts
Some good to haves are:
- Adjustable cot flooring: If you are going to use the cot as a side car to your main bed, ensure that the cot has an adjustable floor and that height is the same the height of your bed.
Do NOT buy crib/cot mattresses second hand as they can be a Petri dish for allergies, infections, germs or bed bugs. Old saggy mattresses are often pose a SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk.
There are preloved baby furniture retailers like precared and another option in major Indian cities is the option to rent it from a reputed brand like Furlenco.
Car seats: Car seats are hugely undervalued as a safety device in India mainly because of lack of laws and its implementation. Many manufacturers also take advantage of the lack of regulations to dump non-safety tested products or recalled products from other markets in India. As a result of low demand for car seats, they are priced very highly and often with limited choice. Some important pointers to keep in mind while considering a purchase of a preloved car seat are:
- Expiration date. Yes, you read it right. Car seats come with expiration date. They are often mentioned on the car seat in the labels or in the manual. If not, the rule of thumb is six years.
- No flaws or weakening in the restraint system
- No wear and tear in the harness system that tethers the seat to the car
- Compatibility. Many international car seat manufacturers have the LATCH system which needs special tethers and anchors in built into the car. The Indian car manufacturers do not build this in the car. The car seat is simply harnessed using the car seat belt system. You may not be able to use the car seat if it only comes with the LATCH system
- Weight limit. There are three kinds of car-seats developed on the basis of different weight classes among children. Infants, toddlers/preschooler, older children. You need to compare your requirement to the sale ad.
- Extended rear facing: Rear facing car seats are recommended up to 3 years of age, if possible more. This is backed by years of research. While purchasing a car seat opt for the model that allows maximum duration in the rear facing mode.
- Recalls: Always check the model number against the manufacturer database to see if the product has ever been recalled or has had any significant safety risks
- Safety testing: Ask or research regarding the safety certifications of the manufacturer and model number of the car seat. We purchase the car seat as a safety device. There is no point, if the product is not backed by any safety certifications
Most car seats are washable, so any stains or dirt on the cover can be easily washed and sanitized. That is not the key decision point while purchasing a car seat.
Toys: Similar to clothes, we have all used hand-me-down toys at some point. At present, most toys are made of plastic. We at the nestery encourage you buy high quality toys made of natural materials that can be used by many little hands. We encourage using toys without batteries and electronic parts that necessitate toys to be replaced every few years. Some pointers while buying preloved toys.
- Preferably a complete set in case of games
- No broken parts or sharp edges or splinters
- No small parts or tiny magnets that can be ingested or pushed up the nose, especially when shopping for children between ages of 0-5
- Check of working condition if batteries are involved
- Check for type pf batteries and ease of availability if batteries are involved
You can sanitize most toys using a hand sanitizer.
Pram/Stroller: Prams and Strollers are high ticket items in India. Prams can be used from infancy to toddlerhood and typically bulky while strollers are meant for toddlers and are light-weight keeping in mind the finickiness of toddlers. In India, the road infrastructure for prams doesn't exist except for a few townships and gated communities. You will be using them mainly while going to malls. You will also notice that babies do not want to be tied into a harness and you will carry your shopping bags in the pram and stroller than the baby itself. We at the nestery recommend using a baby carrier over a pram or stroller but some points to keep in mind while buying a preloved pram or stroller are:
- Structural integrity (Sound construction)
- Five point baby harness (All safety tested brands will have a five point harness)
- Safety testing (You can check this online)
- No sharp edges, broken parts, safety harness
- Sound braking system
- No finger traps in the folding mechanism (where baby fingers can get crushed)
- No bum wheels
The pram/stroller covers and seats are mostly removable and washable. So, this need not be the primary point of consideration.
Baby bouncers/rockers/swings: Baby bouncers and rockers are especially tempting in the first six months when the baby is stationary. But they fall into disuse after the baby starts moving because they do not want to be restricted to the chair and want to explore their surroundings. Some pointers while considering the purchase of a preloved bouncer/rocker are:
- Battery system in working condition. If the seller states that the battery is currently not working, ensure that they replace the batteries and show you proof of its working condition
- No loose parts
- No broken parts or sharp edges
- Undamaged harness system
- Padding intact
- No tears in the fabric
- No finger traps
- Controls and buttons in working condition
High chairs/booster seats: High chairs and booster seats come into play only in the sixth month of the baby's life when the weaning journey begins. We at the nestery highly recommend a high chair or booster seat because it sets a routine in the mind of the child and designates a specific place for mealtimes. It is useful to contain messes and grows with the child. Some things to keep in mind while purchasing a preloved high chair or booster seat are:
- No wear and tear in the system that holds the booster chair to the dining chair
- No wear and tear in the safety harness system
- Wear and tear on the feeding tray
- Availability of spare feeding tray in the market (This is rare in India)
- No finger traps in the folding mechanism
- No small loose parts
Most boosters and high chairs come with removable and washable covers. It is recommended to sanitize the entire unit after purchase. In case of a booster, it can be dismantles fairly easily and washed at home.
Baby carriers: Baby carriers come in different forms. Stretchy wraps, hybrid wraps, woven wraps, full buckled carrier, meh-dais, Onbuhimo, ring slings etc. Baby carriers are versatile, promote skin to skin contact, and are conducive to India where there is non-existent infrastructure for extensive pram or stroller usage. Most importantly, it sets the parent free and gives them independence to go anywhere without compromising child care. Ergonomic baby carriers have a great resale value and there are many groups promoting resale of baby carriers. Some pointers while purchasing a preloved baby carrier.
- No damage to the weight bearing section of the fabric
- No damage to the safety buckles system
- Easy maneuvering of buckles for adjusting
- Broken in (less stiffness in fabric in case of a woven wrap or a ring sling)
- No tears
- Check manufacturer website for safety certifications, weight limit, and age limit of the carrier
Any optical damage is fine as long as there is no structural damage. Beware of the non-ergonomic, non-tested carriers flooding the market even in reputed retailers.
Cloth diapers: Cloth diapers are modern, viable alternatives to chemical laden, landfill hogging, un-decomposable diapers. They are reusable and can be stored away for long periods. They also have a thriving resale market. Hygiene is the biggest word thrown around when talking against reusable diapers. If the diapers are washed well, there is no reason for concern. They are made of special materials that have enhanced absorbent capacity and have other materials that wick away moisture from the baby's skin giving it a feel-dry sensation. Some pointers while purchasing preloved cloth diapers.
- Wash routine (how diapers are stored between washes, hot water or cold water used etc.)
- Detergents used on the diapers (if the diapers have been washed with detergents with no softeners and fragrance)
- No delamination in outer PUL (PUL is the outer water proof layer that helps contain the messes, any delamination can impede the effectiveness of the cloth diaper
- Pilling (The feel-dry material fleece can have pilling due to repeated washes. While this is not an indicator of performance, it may indicate age of the diaper)
- Absorbency test: Insist on the owner sharing a video of absorbency. Ask the owner to pour water on the insert, if the water gets repelled, this means absorbency is reduced due to various factors
- Relaxed elastics (The elastics around the baby's legs should not be relaxed)
- All buttons present
All diapers can be sanitized by doing a wash with bleach. This kills 99.99% of germs and makes it ready for further use. There are many resources available on social media that helps you troubleshoot washing routines and absorbency on cloth diapers.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of items that can be bought preloved. If you have questions on what can be bought preloved and how? Leave us a comment, we will try our best to answer for you.