When Borrowing Baby Gear Is a Bad Idea

Yes it saves money, but there are some dangers to using certain hand-me-downs. Find out what’s safe to borrow and what’s not.
save article
profile picture of Sarah Yang
Updated March 2, 2017
Hero Image

The arrival of baby is an exhilarating—and expensive—time. For the first two years of baby’s life, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that parents spend more than $16,000 a year on child-related expenses. And with the seemingly endless list of baby products to buy, it’s no wonder. Renting, buying or borrowing used baby gear can be a good way to cut down on costs, but certain secondhand items can actually pose some hazards. Here are the top baby products that purchasing new is better for baby’s safety.


You might want to stay away from borrowing an old crib. For one thing, there was a change in federal safety standards made in June of 2011: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the sale or manufacture of drop-side rail cribs. So you shouldn’t borrow or buy secondhand cribs of these types at all. The CPSC also made more requirements for safer hardware and stronger crib slats and mattress support, plus more safety testing.

Other hazards: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that peeling paint and any rough spots or splinters could be dangerous for baby, and the chance of those hazards increases with an older crib’s wear and tear. Also, if you purchase a used crib, some parts might be missing that can’t be replaced correctly with stuff you’d find at the hardware store. The AAP recommends using the original parts from the manufacturer. So with cribs, going used poses so many risks to baby’s safety that it’s just not worth it. Plus, think about it this way: Refurbishing an old crib to meet safety standards may end up costing you the same amount as buying a brand-new crib would.

Related Video

Car Seats

Did you know that car seats have expiration dates? Most car seats expire within six years, but it depends on the manufacturer. So look closely at your model’s manual. (Have a used seat with no manual? Definitely a bad idea). A used car seat may be unable to perform up to its original crash-safety standards. And because safety standards are always changing, it’s important to get a car seat that meets all the standards.

The AAP also cautions parents against using a car seat that has been in a crash, has been recalled, has cracks in its frame or has missing parts. You should know the history of the car seat you’re using — if it’s been in any accidents and how old it is — and with used models, that’s probably not possible. It’s better to start with a new car seat that will keep baby snug and safe. (New infant car seats tend to start at around $60, but regardless of price, all car seats have to meet federal safety standards. If a new seat is beyond your budget, there are national nonprofits like Buckle Up for Life that donate car seats to families in need.)

Breast Pumps

Those fancy breast pumps can get pricey, and you might not think it’s worth it if you’re only expecting to breastfeed for a few months. Even though it may be costly to buy a new one, you shouldn’t borrow or purchase a previously owned breast pump, because of bacteria and certain viruses that could be transferred into the breast milk. According to Medela, you can safely use a rental pump if you’re looking to save some cash. These ones are okay because they’re designed to prevent cross-contamination — you’ll need to provide all the parts that actually connect with your boob and store your breast milk.

Most pumps made for purchase should not be shared or resold, because they have parts that can’t be cleaned or replaced. You won’t be able to fully sterilize a used breast pump, so your breast milk could be contaminated with bacteria. Plus, the motors on a breast pump may not work as well after time, which can make pumping ineffective.

Looking to save on breast pumps? There may be a way to get one for free.


Strollers don’t have expiration dates, but you want to exercise a lot of caution when borrowing or purchasing a used stroller. First, check to see if it’s been recalled and see if it still meets safety standards set by the CPSC. Strollers get a lot of wear and tear, so you’ll want to be especially careful with inspecting it before you decide to use it. Make sure its wheels are working properly, the seat is safe and supportive, and that none of the parts are loose.


It’s sweet when a family member offers to pass down a favorite stuffed animal or vintage toy to your child, but you need to be smart about what you give to baby and what you trash. Ali Wing, CEO and founder of giggle, says there’s a risk of passing along bed bugs and bacteria through used stuffed animals and other fabric items. So stay away from buying a used stuffed animal. But if you want to give baby your favorite teddy bear from childhood that you know is A-OK, that’s totally fine. Make sure you wash it thoroughly and inspect it for any choking hazards — like it doesn’t have eyes that could fall off or accessories that could be detached. As for vintage toys (like old building blocks or rattles), Wing says there are choking hazards and the potential that the toy could contain lead. She suggests saving those for decoration only.

Updated August 2016

save article

Next on Your Reading List

Toddler Backpacks-hero
5 Best Toddler Backpacks for Preschool and Beyond, Tested by Kids
By Korin Miller
Modern Family Products-hero
9 Must-Have Products for Modern Families
By Korin Miller
baby wearing noise cancelling headphones while asleep in baby carrier
6 Best Headphones for Babies and Children, Tested by Little Ears
By Korin Miller
7 Best Toddler Crayons to Really Draw Kids in, Tested and Reviewed
By Korin Miller
couple arranging baby items in crib
Your Ultimate Checklist of Baby Essentials
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
Parent with children in matching clothes
28 Cult-Favorite Baby Brands Founded by Moms
By Stephanie Grassullo
baby in red dress holding a red heart balloon for valentine's day
18 of the Best Valentine's Day Sales for Families Happening Now
By Wyndi Kappes
UPPAbaby Cruz V2 vs UPPAbaby Vista V2 best of the bump testers
UPPAbaby Cruz vs. Vista, Reviewed by Real Parents
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
Parent pushing baby stroller outside
The Best Strollers for Every Need, Tested and Loved by Parents
By Elizabeth Nelson
Parent checking baby in travel crib
The Best Travel Cribs, Tested by Babies on the Go
By Marygrace Taylor
new mom pushing baby in stroller
Your Age-By-Age Guide to Strollers: What to Get When
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
best baby monitors, video baby monitor
The 10 Best Baby Monitors, Tested and Reviewed
By Korin Miller
Best Nursery Humidifiers-hero
The Best Humidifiers to Keep Baby Happy and Healthy
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
Best Bassinets-hero
The 10 Best Bassinets for Baby, Tested Through the Night
By Lynsey Eidell
mother buckling baby into car seat
The 10 Best Convertible Car Seats You Can Buy Now, Tested by Parents
By Marygrace Taylor
couple walking outside with baby in carrier
The Best Baby Carriers You Can Buy Now, Tested by Parents
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
mother feeding laughing baby in high chair
The Best High Chairs for Baby, Tested by Parents
By Elizabeth Nelson
The Best Triple Strollers for Growing Families-hero
The Best Triple Strollers for Growing Families
By Lynsey Eidell
Cutest Baby Bibs-hero
12 Best Baby Bibs to Keep Little Ones Clean
By Christin Perry
Best Double Jogging Stroller-hero
The Best Double Jogging Strollers for Runners
By Martina Garvey
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List