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

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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.

Meanwhile this mum actually wants people to reduce waste by renting their kids clothing. Read more here.

Read more:

  • “Stuffed toys are often hard to clean” – I put them in the washing machine! Soak them in napisan. If they have googley eyes and loose stitches I see the point – they may not be safe but really, I feel this point was a bit over the top. Really makes me wonder why I didn’t choke when I grew up with all my cousins and older siblings toys.


  • I always preferred to buy new whenever I could for my boys but sometimes that just isn’t possible.


  • I bought a second hand babyseat as a spare as my s.i.l kept forgetting to leave one for us to use, We personally knew the car had been it had never been in an accident. We knew a gentleman who worked for the manufacturer. He took it to his work place and had it checked and tested for safety. I wouldn’t buy one from just anybody. We cleaned it thoroughly before installing it in our car. The belts etc, showed no signs of wear and it had been covered to keep sun off it when not being used when the car was out in the open instead of in the lock up caroirt.


  • So there’s no problem with a second hand gate if you choose the right style?


  • If it can be helped I’d rather have nothing 2nd hand.


  • I guess it is case by case. If a second hand toy can be clean by washing or Glen 20 then it’s not a bad thing. Some toys aren’t even played with


  • It’s hard sometimes to be able to afford to buy new. I think thorough inspection of the good and also good disinfectant can’t go astray.


  • Good to be cautious, but some people just can’t afford everything new. 2nd hand items can be desinfected and thoroughly inspected.


  • Not everyone can afford to buy new, years ago there was a second-hand store just for baby and kids stuff that I went to, everything was checked over and you could put it on layby too, was handy for me at the time. I think you have to use common sense when buying new. Also if you cannot afford toys or don’t want to accumulate there are toy libraryies around, or why not start one.


  • Some common sense has to be used here. I bought second hand cot and mattress – the baby it was meant for never slept in it as he never came home from hospital.


  • I suspected some of these items were going to come up. But what is the difference between buying a 2nd hand toy and sharing toys in public places? Or between a 2nd hand cot mattress and one at childcare? Maybe it depends on quality and common sense, and even the child’s own robustness and age?


  • I’ve brought some of these second hand items, but will only buy in great condition.


  • Great points, thank you for sharing.


  • I don’t agree that soft toys are hard to clean. I often do them in a desinfecting soak, followed by a wash in the washing machine.


  • I used a few second-hand items from my sister eg. capsule, crib, and cot. Babies are in each of these for such a short time, it seems wasteful for everyone to buy new things. I’ve learnt from experience too, that you don’t need everything new, but definitely some key things for us: Change table, car seat, portacot. However, we passed these on to others when we’d finished with them.


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