Things to re-use for baby number two (or three, four, or more)

If you’re an experienced baby-wrangler, or at least more experienced than you were before your first was born, preparing for Baby number two should be a snap, right?

Sure, you’ve probably got a bit less time on your hands than you did before your firstborn came along, and your pregnancy symptoms might be completely different this time around, but at least you don’t have quite as much shopping to do to prepare for the next little lodger who’ll be moving into your home.

Depending on what you’ve held onto since your first child was born, and how many of his or her pieces of equipment or furniture from babyhood your first child is still using, you could end up not needing to buy all that much at all the second time around.

There are a few things that should be replaced every time between children, like bottle nipples, which tend to stretch out, so that by the time they’ve been used for a while, the flow from them is usually too fast for newborns. Pacifiers, which can be hard to clean enough to pass between children, and also can take a lot of wear and tear as teething goes on, fall into this category as well.

Another piece of gear that rarely works as something to hand down between children are car seats, which often expire between children (if they’re not marked with an expiration date, assume that they expire 6 years after they were manufactured). Car seat expiration dates are important because the plastic used in car seats can degrade over time, and be less effective in an accident. Car seats should also not be used after they’ve been through even minor car accidents, since even very small amounts of damage can do a lot to hurt the effectiveness of the seat.

There are other pieces of baby gear that maybe shouldn’t be used as well, but it really depends on when they were bought, the amount of wear and tear they’ve taken, and your own personal preferences. Any pieces of furniture and gear should be checked against the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to make sure they haven’t been recalled before they’re reused.

  • Cribs: Cribs that haven’t been recalled and were manufactured after 2012 are probably safe to reuse, although there is some speculation, and a 2002 study published in the British Medical Journal that draws a link between increased SIDS risk and reusing older crib mattresses. Reused crib mattresses should be clean, still firm, and should not show signs of wear and tear. Cribs manufactured before 2012 tend to have the wider-spaced bars and drop-sides that have been known to injure babies.
  • High chairs: As long as the model hasn’t been recalled, high chairs that are in good condition are generally totally safe to hand down. The plastic should be disinfected, and any cloth parts washed, but as long as all joints, locks and buckles are in working order, and the straps aren’t stretched out or damaged, your first child’s highchair should work just fine. If there are a few signs of wear, it’s also worth checking to see if you can order replacement parts from the manufacturer rather than getting a whole new chair.
  • Clothes and bedding: There is no reason any clean clothes and bedding can’t be handed down between children, and though some parents prefer not to pass especially gendered clothes or sheets down between children of different sexes, others figure their new baby isn’t going to be able to tell the difference either way, so why not give those patterns a second life? Some clothing and linens may have taken on some stains from your firstborn, and while those aren’t dangerous, you may prefer to let those items go when you’re putting together baby number two’s (or three’s, or four’s) wardrobe.
  • Bottles: Many bottle manufacturers started phasing out plastics made with BPA around 2008, so bottles made after that time, or BPA-free bottles from before then, are generally safe to reuse, though you should replace the nipples. Bottles that are cracked, discolored, or warped should not be handed down.
  • Carriers and strollers: Carriers and strollers are generally safe to reuse, though it can be a good idea to wash any washable cloth parts before popping Baby into them. As always, though, it’s a good idea to check and make sure that the model you have hasn’t been recalled.
  • Changing table: If you’ve still got it around, there’s no reason not to disinfect your changing table within an inch of its potentially smelly life and then pass it on to the next generation.

Though there are a few more limitations in passing down baby gear to your next child than you might think, there are still quite a few things that your firstborn can pass down to keep in the family!

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