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Used or New: Baby Gear

Jennifer Saranow Schultz solves 6 big-ticket baby gear dilemmas.

Used or New: Baby Gear

In addition to deciding on the perfect baby name and the most city-friendly baby stroller and car seat, there’s another baby-gear related decision you’re likely grappling with: whether to go for new or used baby gear.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple online tool for answering this question like there is when you’re buying a car. In fact, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about which baby gear items are okay to buy used or accept as hand-me-downs, and which you should really buy new.

So to make your life easier, I checked in with a number of reliable experts. Here’s what I learned regarding the new vs. used debate as it relates to six big-ticket baby gear items.

Cribs: Go new. While I have many friends who have safely used hand-me-down cribs, the authors of my go-to baby gear book, “Baby Bargains,” recommend purchasing a new crib. Hand-me-down cribs, Denise and Alan Fields say, may have been made before drop-side cribs were banned in 2011 and 2012. “Hence even a crib that is just 2 years old may not meet current standards,” they told me. And even if a used crib meets current standards, it could be missing parts, and have other wear and tear from assembly and disassembly, creating a safety hazard.

So when would going used be okay? If you have all the crib parts, if the crib is in good working order and meets current safety standards, and if you have the assembly instructions. In other words, “in the end, it is probably safer to just buy new,” the Fields say. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to shell out a lot on a new crib. There are some perfectly good inexpensive models out there.

Car seat: Used is okay with some caveats. According to one car seat expert’s website, a used car seat is generally okay to buy or accept if you know the entire history of the seat, that the seat was never in a crash, all parts are in good working order, it hasn’t expired (car seats generally expire after six years) and any recall-related problems have been addressed. HealthyChildren.org offers similar advice. The Carseat Blog, meanwhile, shares a very helpful used car seat checklist that can help you decide whether to go for a used car seat. The bottom line, according to the post: “If you don’t trust that the person selling or giving you the car seat is truthful, don’t use the seat.”

Breast pumps: It depends on the model. Many breast pumps on the market can’t be reused because their design makes it possible for milk remnants to potentially get into pump parts that can’t be cleaned. However, the good news is that there are now pumps on the market, like the EnJoye model from Hygeia, that can be shared because they have barriers between the pumping and milk collecting parts. So if you’re going to go the used pump route, make sure to get a closed-system model like the EnJoye or opt for a rental pump.

Strollers: Used is generally fine. Going for a used stroller is typically fine to do, assuming all the parts are in working order, the stroller meets current product safety standards and the stroller hasn’t been recalled (you can check for recalls at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website). If the stroller has been recalled, check to make sure a kit to address the problem is available. The Bump also recommends making sure the used stroller’s “wheels are working properly, the seat is safe and supportive, and that none of the parts are loose.”

High chair: Used should be fine. Assuming a used high chair hasn’t been recalled, has all of its parts and you clean it well, it should work just fine. One tip: Look for a used model where you can replace the seat pad and perhaps even the tray, if they’re particularly scuzzy. Many baby gear manufacturers sell replacement parts in online parts stores, and this trick also works for the seats on used baby swings and bouncy seats.

Changing table: Used. If you have a friend who wants to pass along an old changing table (I luckily did) or you know of one available to buy, snap it up (we buy old furniture don’t we – think antiques?). However, be sure to disinfect the table well and to buy a new changing pad and new pad covers.

So where can you find the items above that are okay to buy used? I’d feel most comfortable getting a used car seat from someone I know and really trust. However, for the other items, local mom groups can be great resources for gently used baby gear as can local parenting listervs and local Facebook mommy swap groups.

What’s your take on the used vs. new baby gear debate? What’s okay to buy or accept used? What should you get new?

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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20 baby names to set your child up for success

What do Jacqueline, Morgan, Madison and Parker all have in common?

They say picking a baby name is an art, not a science. But when it comes to figuring out which baby names have been linked to successful futures, there has actually been some scientific work on the subject.

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