Splurging on all those adorable baby clothes, toys, swings, and other not-so-necessities is a rite of passage for any new parents-to-be—and, though friends and family may chip in with gifts, the baby prep shopping spree isn’t exactly cheap: many parents spend more than ten thousand dollars setting up a nest for their new little one.
But these days, thanks to a poor economy, many moms- and dads-to-be are skipping out on the Buy Buy Baby extravaganzas in favor of hand-me-downs from friends and gently used items purchased on Craigslist or at yard sales. According to a recent New York Times article about the phenomenon, the kid-toy giant Mattel has seen a 15 percent drop in first quarter sales in 2009, and even Bugaboo, the Rolls Royce of strollers, has seen its sales slow to a crawl.
“The recession has liberated us from a lot of the consumer expectations so that we can have a big enough space to feel really comfortable just giving our kids a pot and a spoon,” cultural anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff told the Times.
As it turns out, buying secondhand isn’t just practical—it’s better for our babies, too. A new report from Germany’s Bundesinstituts für Risikobewertung (BfR, or National Institute for Risk Assessment) claims that many new toys, clothes, and nursery items contain high levels of chemicals that can be dangerous to a newborn’s fragile lungs.
The solution, they say, is to purchase baby products secondhand. Generally, used baby clothes have already been through enough wash cycles to rid them of any hazardous chemicals, and the flame-retardants used in strollers, cribs, and other products will no longer create emissions that could be harmful to a young child.
When buying used, however, it’s always important to make sure that your purchases are up to par. Before making a purchase, read JPMA’s baby product safety guidelines, and check Recalls.gov to verify that the product you’re thinking of buying hasn’t been recalled by the company that made it.
Personally speaking, my husband Jeff and I have our first baby on the way in just six weeks, so we’re stocking up on the secondhand goods ourselves. We’ve received some wonderful hand-me-downs from friends, and discovered great deals on our local Craigslist bulletin board, eBay, and a local family trading post on Yahoo Groups (search the site to see if your area has something similar). If you’re looking for secondhand baby loot, you might also find some great buys at a local consignment shop.
Sure, used baby goods may have a few scuffs or marks on them from time to time—but do you really think your little one will complain about that?
By Kathryn Hawkins for Gimundo, the site for good news, served daily. Sign up for our newsletter for more great stories and weekly giveaways!