Baby Furniture, Gently Used: How to Buy Secondhand

Filed under: Babies


Look for baby furniture that will still work as your child grows. Credit: Getty


Baby furniture can be a real budget-buster for new parents, with cribs and changing tables from high-end retailers costing thousands of dollars. And even less-expensive cribs can set families back a few hundred bucks.


Luckily, for frugal parents -- and in no small part due to the struggling economy -- the secondhand baby furniture market has been booming the past few years. With a little know-how and some serious steal-sleuthing skills, you can furnish a nursery with beautiful baby furniture that won't cost you a fortune.

The main
challenge when buying any kind of baby furniture or gear secondhand is ensuring that the product still meets all the ever-changing safety regulations. That beautiful antique crib may seem like a bargain, but unless it's up to modern safety standards, you'll want to keep looking.

So, what, exactly, should you look for in baby furniture? First, seek out cribs with slats that are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Ask potential sellers for precise measurements and take a tape measure with you when you go shopping. Corner posts should be no higher than 1/16 of an inch.

Parents also should be wary of drop-side cribs. In previous years, these cribs gained popularity due to their convenience-factor. But recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reiterated safety concerns, citing 32 cases where children died in the past nine years due to defects and problems with drop-side cribs.

Parents also should take a good look at any functioning mechanisms. How does the mattress adjust? Look for cribs that offer two to three mattress heights -- higher for newborns and lower for growing toddlers. Be wary of vinyl straps, which are susceptible to breaking over time, and opt for metal bars or springs. The crib mattress should be a firm, flat surface to reduce the risk of SIDS. The standard size for crib mattresses is 51 5/8 inches long by 27 1/4 inches wide. Be sure whichever crib you purchase fits a standard mattress to avoid any potential safety issues.

The other major piece of baby furniture parents-to-be are tasked with purchasing is the changing table. Look for tables with barriers on all four sides. If the changing table is contoured, look for barriers on opposing sides of the table. Another tip: When it comes to the changing table, opt for short and fat over tall and thin to prevent any potential tipping.

And be sure to consult Recalls.gov and the CPSC before purchasing any used baby furniture or gear.

Craigslist and eBay are obvious choices for places to start your search, but are better suited for parents who have a killer instinct when it comes to bargains. If you're willing to give those sites a go, know it takes patience and hard work, but the deals can be worth the effort. Be sure to check the sellers' rating on eBay. Try using a service such as Bid Robot, which will place your last bid for you and give you a better chance of winning the auction. Also check out Kidzola, Baby Revolution, Zwaggle, Hand-Me-Downs and Shop Lucky Finds.

Don't forget your local secondhand baby stores and consignment shops. Some of them have unexpected steals and you'll be happy to be able to check out the condition of the baby furniture in person.

It may not be exactly what you were hoping for, but remember, a coat of paint can go a long way. Hey, with all that money you'll be saving, you might even be able to throw in new curtains and a rug, too.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.