Where to buy baby equipment second hand
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How to check second-hand baby equipment to make sure it’s safe, plus what NOT to buy second-hand.
Buying second-hand can save you lots of money, but some items are simply not a bargain if they put your child's safety at risk. This is why we strongly suggest you don't buy a child car seat second-hand - your child's safety is paramount. A second-hand car seat may have been in a crash, even if you can't see any signs of it, and this will have weakened it.
We take child car seats seriously. Our independent crash tests are the best in Europe, and are more stringent than official tests. Visit our child car seat review to find out more.
To be a Best Buy, a child seat must protect the child in severe front and side crashes, and must have no major weaknesses - such as being difficult to install correctly - that might lead to it not protecting your child properly in a crash.
Our guide to current deals on Best Buy baby products will help you to pay the best price for your new car seat.
Check all second-hand equipment thoroughly
Many items can be safe to buy second-hand, as long as you carry out some simple checks. We strongly suggest you check second-hand baby equipment thoroughly to ensure your confidence in its safety before buying.
Below, we give specific hints and tips on what to look for with different types of equipment to ensure they are safe. It's worth remembering that some checks need to be undertaken to ensure products are safe even where they carry a British Standards safety mark. This is because they may have been damaged over time, and may now be in a less safe condition. Also, you're unlikely to be given the instructions supplied when the product was first bought, which would have contained a lot of safety information.
Checking second-hand pushchairs
For help deciding which pushchair is right for you, the best place to start is our extensive reviews of pushchairs, with more than 140 tested. Our outstanding Best Buys have the best combination of features that make a good pushchair – no matter what style it is. Every Best Buy has passed stringent safety tests at our laboratory. They've also passed our user tests, where we let parents and their babies try them out in real-life situations.
If you're not sure what type of pushchair will best suit your baby and lifestyle, check out our Buggy, travel system or all-terrain pushchair choosing tool, which explains the different features of each type.
Once you know what you're looking for, be sure to check the following when trawling through second-hand sales or searching for a second-hand bargain online:
- Make sure the brakes are working properly.
- Check that the wheels are correctly aligned.
- Open and close the pushchair a couple of times - are all the folding parts operating smoothly?
- Ensure that the two locking mechanisms are working efficiently and safely to avoid the pushchair folding up or collapsing while your child is in it.
- Check that there is no rust or flaking paint or chrome.
- Is the fabric in reasonably good condition and not weakened by tears?
- The handles and frame should have no unusual bends or kinks.
- The pushchair should have a five-point (rather than three-point) harness, as this conforms to current safety standards.
A little bit of wear and tear is to be expected if you're buying second-hand. You simply want to assure yourself of the difference between a pushchair that has been used, and one that is perhaps unsafe. Some manufacturers may be willing to service and repair second-hand pushchairs and check they conform to safety requirements, so consider asking them for help.
See our full tips on buying second-hand pushchairs.
Checking second-hand stair gates
Our thorough review of stair gates will help you to know which gates to look for, whether buying new or second-hand. To be a Best Buy, a gate needs to be more than just safe - it needs to be easy to install and convenient. Less than a third of those we tested have been rated as Best Buys.
Below, we set out what you should check on a stair gate to ensure it's a second-hand bargain, rather than a source of potential danger to your child.
- The bars or slats should be spaced no more than 6.5cm (2.5in) apart to comply with current safety standards and to minimise any potential accidents.
- Are there any areas of the product that appear damaged or badly warn? Check wooden areas to see if they are broken or splintered, metal bars for signs of bending, and the seams or welds on fabric or plastic parts to see whether they are coming apart.
- Check any locks are functioning correctly.
- Make sure there are no sharp edges, corners or protrusions.
- Has someone painted or varnished the stair gate? If so, steer clear as the finish may contain hazardous chemicals.
If you've found a stair gate that makes the grade but is looking a bit scruffy, you may decide it needs a coat of something to give it a second lease of life. If so, be sure to check with the supplier of the paint or varnish that what you intend to use is safe for children.
Checking second-hand high chairs
A high chair is a must for those early days of learning to eat and joining in with family meals. See our review of high chairs for Best Buys that suit every bottom. Our top-rated models score highly on safety, ease of use and cleaning, and proved a hit with parents and children alike.
Which high chair you choose will ultimately depend on where your priorities lie - whether you’re looking for something easy to clean, light to manoeuvre or packed with features. Have a think about this so you know what you want before you hit the second-hand sales.
Regardless of which high chair you choose, be sure to check the following on any previously used chair before parting with any cash.
- Is it stable, sturdy and not missing any screws or bolts?
- Are all locks and catches to keep it open working properly?
- Ensure that there are no sharp edges or elements such as cracks on the plastic tray that could pinch your baby.
- If the seat or any other part of the chair is padded, ensure that no foam is exposed, as this can be a potential choking hazard.
- Check that there is no flaking paint or splinters.
- Check that it has an integral harness. If it doesn't, you'll need to buy a separate harness and use it whenever your baby is in the chair.
See our full tips on buying second-hand high chairs.
Checking second-hand baby monitors
Visit our review of baby monitors to find out which we rate as Best Buys. All our Best Buy baby monitors have good sound with no interference and are easy to use.
It's worth noting that analogue monitors often suffer from a background hiss. If you're looking for a second-hand baby monitor, you might be able to get a deal on a used digital monitor, which will generally give a clearer sound (these tend to be more expensive when bought new).
If you find a second-hand baby monitor you like, check the following:
- Are there any areas of the product that appear to be damaged or badly worn? Check that wires are intact and that plastic parts hold together as they should.
- Small parts that can be removed or broken off may be a choking hazard, so keep an eye out for these.
- Any cords on the monitors should be less than 20cm (18in) long to comply with current safety standards and remove any possibility of them being a choking hazard.
- If anyone has made any repairs or modifications to the monitor, give it a miss as you can't vouch for the safety of these.