By: Stephanie Duhon

It’s no secret that adding a baby to the family is expensive. Purchasing all the necessary items, such as a car seat, baby clothing and diapers, can add up quickly.

A great way to save money is to buy items second hand. Babies grow so quickly that many items are only gently used. For example, bouncy seats and swings are usually only used for the first few months before the baby outgrows them. Many babies only wear clothing once or twice before they move up a size, which means you can get used items that are almost like new!

Before you make a beeline for the next garage sale, it’s important to remember that no deal is worth your baby’s safety. There is some baby gear that experts recommend you always buy new to ensure safety, but there are many items you can safely buy used by following a few simple precautions.

Great items to buy or borrow second hand:

*Clothing

*Shoes/Outerwear

*Books

*Maternity clothes

*Basic toys in “like new” condition that are easy to clean

*Strollers (there have been several recalls recently, so please be sure the stroller you are considering purchasing has not been recalled)

*Bouncy Seats, Swings

Before making a purchase:

*Check CPSC website for recall info.

*Inspect item before buying. Look for tears in the fabric or broken/missing pieces. All pieces, such as a safety harness, should be in good shape.

*If buying clothing, make sure there are no drawstrings and ensure all buttons, zippers and clasps are secure.

*Only buy items that have been manufactured in the past few years. If the items are too old, there is a risk they don’t meet current safety standards.

*Check for any expiration dates.

Check for corrosion in battery-operated items.

Do not buy or borrow these items second hand:

*Car seats (If the car seat has been in a crash, even a fender bender, it must be replaced. Car seats also expire as the hot Houston heat can wreak havoc on the plastic.)

*Cribs

*Crib Mattresses

*Breast pump accessories

You can find used items in many places, including yard sales and thrift stores.

If you want a bit of extra security, try a boutique that specializes in used baby products. They generally only take newer items and don’t accept recalled items.

One final piece of advice: If you have any concerns over a product you are considering buying used, go with your gut. Don’t buy something, even if it’s a great deal, if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. There is no price you can put on the safety of your child.