Secondhand baby clothes and equipment – are they safe?
When our eldest was born, I laughed when people suggested I buy secondhand anything for my precious firstborn.
Fast forward a few years and it’s nearly a full-time job buying and selling off our unwanted clothes and equipment!
The secondhand market for baby items is a minefield. Once you get the hang of how things work, it can be both an invaluable source of savings as a buyer and earn you some extra cash as a seller.
1. What baby items are safe to buy secondhand?
Every family will have different views on this. Like I said above, in my first pregnancy, I wouldn’t have dreamed of having anything second hand. I just didn’t think that it was right and somehow I had failed by not providing everything new.
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t have a matchy matchy nursery straight out of a magazine. Our cot was secondhand (only because someone offered it) and most of the furniture was mismatched from around the house BUT I thought that because I knew the backstory of it all, I was ok.
Fast forward to the twins and we had loads of secondhand stuff. Once I had learned how to clean it all properly and I had seen for my own eyes how little everything gets used, I happily accepted preloved items into our life.
With that in mind, there are two main items that you should consider before you buy secondhand:
- Mattresses shouldn’t be bought secondhand. Remember to consult the Lullaby trust which sets out the safe sleeping guidelines.
- A car seat could be bought from a trusted secondhand source. This is because you need to be 100% certain that it has not been in an accident.
Apart from the two exceptions above, everything else is pretty much safely available on the secondhand market.
2. How can I get a quality product on the online secondhand market?
The online secondhand marketplace has its own language. Make sure you get familiar with the terminology before you buy anything secondhand. By doing this it will be easier to get a quality item.
Common terminology used on eBay and Facebook selling groups for secondhand baby clothes:
Brand New With Tags (BNWT) as the name suggests this is something that still has the tags on it – remember though it doesn’t always mean it’s been bought recently.
Brand New Without Tags (BNWOT) is similar to the one above and probably what you are most likely to get from my kids. These are items where the tags have been removed in the vain hope that the item will be used. Then because the children either don’t fit it when it comes to being worn they go on the clothes mountain in the spare room
Excellent Used Condition (EUC) with these types of items you can expect light usage. Again, this is what you get from my kids because they have lots of clothes. I would generally say these are worn clothes with no stains or damage to them.
Good Used Condition (GUC) These clothes have probably been worn a lot and may have the odd mark on them but still look good. Always read the description carefully on these items.
Playwear – suitable for nursery, it is probably already been ‘pre-stained.’ This can be where you get a bargain. This is because all of this stuff is subjective. One mum’s description of playwear could be the next mum’s description of excellent condition. Always read the description carefully and ask any questions so you know what you are getting.
A smoke and pet-free home is another key term. If you aren’t too bothered most of this can be washed away. If you have pet allergies in your family then this might not be a good idea. This is especially if you don’t have any pets of your own. Due to my own allergies this is a very big deal to us so we can’t buy from homes with pets or smokers.
Check who you are buying from
It’s a good idea to see who you are buying from.
On eBay or in Facebook selling groups try to review the comments against the seller. This is because you can see what else they have sold and get a feel for how they sell their items.
One of the main reasons I like the specialist Facebook groups is because they are well moderated. As a result, if there is any trouble with buyers and sellers, they are excluded.
3. Where do I look online to buy secondhand items?
My favourite place for quality specialist clothing brands is Facebook selling groups. These groups have hundreds of secondhand baby clothes just waiting for savvy mums like you to give them a new home.
One of the main reasons that I like them is many are brand specific. If I am looking for something from Frugi, I will look at a Frugi selling group; if I am looking for a Next PJ bundle, I will look at a Next selling group.
It will soon become apparent to you that some of these brands have cult followings and some items can be sold for relatively high prices.
There is plenty of specialist twin and multiple groups, so you don’t need to go looking for matching items. You might even end up with some of our stuff! You could also try your local twin’s club for local secondhand baby clothes.
Toys, bikes, nursery furniture can be found on eBay (see what is local to you) or Facebook Marketplace. At this point you probably don’t want to be travelling all over the country to buy bits of secondhand nursery furniture, so try to stay local for your sanity. Remember it’s not a bargain if it costs you £100 to go and collect it!
4. What about secondhand shops online?
Historically I have been a regular on the many Facebook groups selling preloved children’s clothes. However, I have recently discovered a specialist online retailer who sells preloved baby, children’s and maternity clothes.
Buildabundle is the first of it’s kind in the UK. They sell preloved items according to a strict criteria. This means that the clothes really are like new but without the new price tag.
Another benefit is they have filters and search functions just like you would on any large retailer so it makes it easy to find what you are looking for on their site.
5. Where do I look for secondhand items that are not online?
I know that buying online is not for everyone. If you can’t buy online for whatever reason you have several options available to you. There is a variety of specialist nearly new sales, car boots and charity shops that are a treasure trove for great condition items.
Nearly new sales take on two primary forms; they can be set up like a car boot with sellers specifically selling off their pre-loved baby items. Or they are like a huge market where you browse the items you are looking for and pay once on your way out.
The best nearly new sales are run by Mum-2-Mum Market and your local NCT Nearly New Sale.
The local NCT where I live runs a Gold Standard Nearly New Sale. This means that strict criteria have to be met before an item can be sold.
These are the safest ways to buy secondhand items for your baby. This is because you can see upfront what you are getting before you make payment.
6. I’ve found something online, how do I pay?
The golden rule is to pay via PayPal Goods and Services.
Never pay via PayPal Friends and Family or Bank Transfer. This is because PayPal Goods and Services protects you if an item doesn’t arrive or there are issues with it. To ensure you are protected, always insist on it as a payment method.
If you have bought something you need to collect, try to go in daylight hours.
The reason for this is that it helps you to see that you are getting what you paid for. I’ve seen many a horror story of people collecting items and not checking what’s in the bag is what they have paid for!
It is possible to pay via PayPal on the mobile App as you are collecting the goods. To get maximum protection, avoid paying cash.
7. I have bought something second hand, how do I clean it?
Car seats, and prams/pushchairs back to their skeleton, which means the covers can be hoovered or washed (please check the care label first). Pram/pushchair wheels and frames can be scrubbed to get them looking as good as new.
Local Facebook groups often advertise specialist ‘valets’ who will get them prams and car seats looking as good as new.
Cots, highchairs, bouncer chairs, and toys can be washed or wiped down with hot soapy water then finished off with some Dettol anti-bacterial spray.
Clothing can be washed in your washing machine on a regular wash with your washing powder and maybe a cap of Dettol Laundry disinfectant.
Once you are done with your items, provided they are still in good condition you could relist them and let another family grab a bargain. This is not only good for the environment it also helps you get some cash for your next bundle of things.
8. There is no shame in buying secondhand
Remember that there is no shame in buying secondhand baby clothes and other items and equipment.
Buying secondhand doesn’t mean that it’s second-best or that you have failed in any way. Don’t be like me all those years ago, be smart with your money and make the most of it. I wish I had realised that nothing gets used for very long and I should have been smarter with my cash.
Never mind, it’s not too late for you. Advice and tips on how to be smart with your pennies are available for FREE when you download my FREE maternity leave budget planner. It’s packed full of easy to action steps that help you quickly get your maternity leave budget together. Because the last thing you want during maternity leave is to run out of money.
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