Hand-Me-Downs: What to Take, What to Skip and What to Think Twice About

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Updated March 2, 2017
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At a barbecue last weekend, I met some people who are expecting their first baby any day now and another couple who just had their second child. After congratulating them, my first thought was, “Do I still have any baby stuff I can unload on them?” because as strong as the urge to procreate is the urge to pass along your hand-me-downs when you’re done.

Here’s when to say yes, no, or maybe to second-hand baby stuff:

When to say yes

Clothing and bedding. You can never have too many clothes, in my opinion. Babies spit up, have diaper blowouts, and generally get dirty easily. Plus, you’ll need a spare change of clothes for daycare, Grandma’s, the car, etc… Same goes with bedding. Can’t hurt to have an extra crib sheet on hand for those 3 a.m. accidents.

Safety note: some states, including my home state of Maryland, have outlawed crib bumpers for safety reasons. Best to skip these or buy the approved mesh kind.

When to say no

Stuffed animals. Unless they still have the tags on them, second-hand stuffed animals gross me out. Have you seen what babies do to those things? And a shocking number of plush toys we’ve owned are only spot-washable, not machine washable. Why chance it?

When to say maybe

Baby gear. I put cribs, baby seats, tubs, and non-plush toys in this category. Here you’ve got to tread carefully, since so many baby products are recalled each year. But it was a godsend when a friend gave me her baby swing after my second child. See, we owned a swing that only rocked front to back and my second-born only tolerated a swing that rocked side to side. (This was totally an early sign of major pickiness to come, by the way.)

With hand-me-downs you always run the risk of getting stuff that’s not your style, but you can always claim it didn’t fit, right? I say, take all the free baby stuff you can! And of course, pay it forward when you’re done. Anyone want a cute set of jungle animal curtains?

Hand-me-downs: love ‘em or hate ‘em?

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