What you need to know

  • Buying second-hand can be a great way to keep costs down when you have a child
  • Some baby items like cots must comply with mandatory product standards even if second hand. Other items may have voluntary standards. The products that meet these standards will be safer to use.

General advice on buying second-hand baby equipment

Make sure you get the instruction booklet, and it’s for the right make and model of the item. If it doesn’t have one, make sure you can check the manufacturer’s instructions online to check there’s been no changes made. It’s important you know how to assemble, fold down or install your item correctly.

Check for:

  • whether it meets any required safety standards
  • loose screws or joints
  • open ended tubes, hinges with gaps, or any spaces or holes that could trap baby’s head, fingers or toes
  • worn, missing or broken parts
  • fabric that is worn or not attached properly to the frame
  • broken straps or buckles
  • rough edges, sharp points or splinters.

Following manufacturers’ instructions reduces the risk of injury for your baby

Second-hand cots

There are mandatory safety standards for cots, but no mandatory standards for portacots and bassinets.

Cots sold in New Zealand should meet the requirements of safety standard AS/NZS 2172:2003.

Illustration of safety standards for cots

From Commerce Commission New Zealand - Product safety standards: household cots

If you’re buying or are given a second-hand cot, it must meet the mandatory safety standard. Make sure:

  • the cot is more than 600mm deep. Measure from the top of the mattress base to the lowest point on any end or side.
  • the mattress fits the cot firmly. Any gaps at the ends and sides should be less than 20mm with the mattress centred in the cot.
  • spaces between the bars of the cot must be between 50mm and 95mm. This is so a baby can’t get arms or legs trapped in the bars or be able to fall through them.
  • the four corner posts don't stick up more than 5mm
  • the drop-side catches lock securely
  • screws and nails don’t stick out
  • cot ends don’t have fancy cut-outs
  • there aren't any bars, ledges or other footholds that an infant can use to climb out of the cot
  • the base of the cot is firm, with no parts to collapse or bend when pushed down
  • corner posts are not longer than 5mm. Cut off any excess and make sure the cut edges are smooth. Children’s clothing can get caught on anything higher than this.
  • old cots are checked for poisonous lead-based paint
Safety standards for household cots

Commerce Commission

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The Commerce Commission enforces competition, fair trading and consumer credit contracts laws.

Second-hand portacots

Portacots aren’t covered under the mandatory standard for household cots.

Portable cots should be used differently to household cots.

  • They’re not as sturdy as regular cots and aren’t designed for constant use.
  • It’s recommended that when a baby will be left unsupervised for regular sleep times and overnight, they should be in a cot or other sleeping environment that complies with an Australian New Zealand standard.

If buying a second-hand portacot, check:

  • if the portacot complies with a safety standard
  • if it has an instruction booklet
  • if it’s able to be put up and folded away in accordance with the instructions
  • that all catches lock firmly
  • for any holes in the fabric or loose catches
  • it has the original mattress or replacement that’s approved by the manufacturer (use portable cots as per the manufacturer’s instructions – don’t add extra mattresses)
  • the mattress can be securely attached to the cot frame
  • the mattress fits snugly - there must be no more than 25mm gap between the mattress and the side of the cot. Regularly check the fit of the mattress - this is a key risk of portacots.
  • the space between any bars is 50mm-85mm.

Second-hand bassinets

  • Choose a bassinet with a sturdy bottom and a wide, stable base. There should be no sharp points or edges inside or outside or any small parts that could pose a choking hazard. If the bassinet is wooden it should be free of splinters, flaking paint or any other choking risk.
  • Check any folding mechanism – if the legs or frame of the bassinet or cradle collapse, make sure they lock firmly in place when set up.
  • Make sure the mattress pad is smooth and not too thick - around 4cm is enough. Don't worry if the mattress seems hard. Baby should sleep on a firm mattress and never anything soft or 'squishy'.
  • Ensure the bassinet sides allow for ventilation.
  • Say no to an antique or heritage bassinet. These are likely to have an overly thick mattress, minimal or no ventilation at the side, uneven spacing of slats and legs with old style latching mechanisms. It may also have decorative features that make it less safe for use.