December 16, 2020


There are some things you should never buy second hand for the safety of your family. Some bargains, really aren’t worth the risk!

CHOICE reminds parents that many products for babies and kids such as prams and strollers, cots, portable cots, bike helmets, baby dummies and toys are subject to mandatory standards.

In addition, there are voluntary standards available for many of these and other products, which are regularly updated. When buying a second-hand version of any of these items, you’re taking the risk that you’re buying an old model that wasn’t subject to standards when it was first sold, or was not made to pass the latest and best version of the relevant standard. Even if the item is in good condition, it may be less safe than a newer model.

Baby gates

Baby gates and barriers are meant to stop toddlers falling down stairs but unfortunately this older-type gate, which opens criss-cross like an accordion, can trap a child’s head or clothes and is too easy to climb. Overseas they’ve caused major injuries and deaths.

Bike helmets

Never buy a used helmet. Not only should the bike itself be in good condition, but you also need a bike helmet that fits properly. Helmets can slide off if they aren’t properly fitted, and they’re really only made to withstand only one big crash – but you can’t tell by looking if a helmet’s already been in that one major accident.

As bike helmets should be replaced every five years anyway, a second-hand helmet is a poor deal all round.

​Pre-loved and stuffed toys

Pre-loved toys have often seen a lot of action in the hands of their young owners. Wear and tear can lead to breaks and small loose parts, which in turn may present choking hazards to babies and toddlers.

Check that toys are in good condition and suitable for your child; for kids under the age of three, it’s particularly important that there are no loose or accessible small parts (remember the film canister rule?). The toys should have no sharp edges or points, and no accessible batteries or strong magnets.

Stuffed toys are often hard to clean and can carry bacteria and germs.

Life jackets

Life jackets (more formally known as personal flotation devices or PFDs) do save lives, no question. The most comfy designs were the ones that didn’t keep your head above water, which is a big problem if you’re knocked unconscious in a boating accident. If you buy second-hand, you could be buying these problems.

Bed mattresses

Second-hand mattresses can be full of dust mites. Dust mite droppings contain allergens that can set off asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis attacks and they could trigger an allergic reaction. Old mattresses are often also comparatively soft and saggy, which can mean they pose an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), due to the increased chance of a child’s face being covered if they roll face first onto the mattress.

Second hand cots

Consumer Protection warn parents before using a cot to carry out simple safety checks. Older cots that do not meet these standards should not be used!

If you buy or receive a second-hand cot, it may not meet current Australian safety standards, increasing the risk of injury to any baby placed in that cot

Before using a cot it is important to check for the below –

  • Inspect for stability
  • Ensure rails are intact
  • No sharp edges
  • Make sure Nuts and bolts are tight and that all mechanisms are in working order
  • Check that the bars, panels, mattress base and drop sides are firmly attached.
  • Then check the recommended measurements of the cot.
  • Check there is no risk a child can NEVER become trapped.

Child car restraints

Baby seats should never be re-used if they’ve been in a car crash. Car seats have improved over time, so older models may not comply with current standards, and manufacturers generally advise against using a seat that’s more than 6-10 years old.

So unless you know its complete history and there isn’t any wear, fraying or cracking, give any second-hand baby seat a miss.

Do you buy second hand items regularly? Tell us in the comments below.

Read more:

  • I didn’t know bike helmets are only recommended to keep fit 5 years. We live in such a disposable world, I reuse everything and give away anything we no longer need. What is the film canister rule (thinking some mums might have never seen a film canister!).


  • Good tips, but compromise if you really have to buy second hand due to monetary circumstances.


  • I think this a good information, there is a lot you can get second hand although the above make sense.


  • My baby’s room is full of second hand items, e.g. changetable, cot, bassinet, bed, toys. I just make sure they’re not super old. Baby items are used so briefly that it’s not as worn out. But I agree with the article not to buy second-hand mattresses and safety equipment.


  • Your child’s safety is more important than saving a few dollars!


  • Good to be careful but some things can be good second hand and save your money.


  • As long as you do your research whenbuyung second hand- out cots were both second hand but I made sure they met the safety standards for cots


  • I rarely buy things in second hand.


  • I love opshops but I’m very careful of what I buy for my children. I wouldn’t buy stuff like shoes or something very personal.


  • A good reminder to be mindful of


  • Never thought about the toys but I would always check first


  • I usually buy second hand but generally clothing.


  • I have bought a couple of these second hand!, when in great condition!


  • I have bought some of the above. If they’re really well looked after, and often I know the owner, I have no issue with it.


  • These are some great tips to remember. I did buy second hand clothes, a bassinet and baby shoes for my youngest but the only thing used were the clothes. He hated the bassinet and the shoes were never quite his size. As for toys, I only ever bought new ones.


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