Second-hand baby equipment

Starting a family is an exciting time not only for you… but your family and friends. It’s when hand-me-downs start appearing on your doorstep and when your bassinette, which hasn’t been used in years, is dusted off and delivered to you along with a significant history lesson!

To help ensure the safety of your newborn, here are some tips around second-hand baby equipment and what to look for before buying or using it.

General advice

If the item had instructions for use when it was new, it must still have those instructions or you must be able to access them on the internet, for example, if you can’t assemble, fold down or install a product correctly your baby may be at risk of injury if the product fails. Following instructions reduces the risk of injury to baby.

Check for:

  • 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.

Prams and strollers

  • Does it meet safety standards? 
  • Check it can be assembled and folded correctly. 
  • Shake and move the pram or stroller to make sure it doesn’t fold or collapse when assembled.
  • Is there a harness and if so that its buckle is working, not cracked or broken? Always use the harness. 
  • Check the brakes are in excellent working condition and are easy to operate.


  • Cots new, second-hand and handed down must meet the mandatory safety standard
  • The cot corner posts can only be 5mm high. Children’s clothing can get caught on anything higher than this.
  • The gaps between the bars must be between 5cm and 9.5cm so a baby can’t get arms or legs trapped or be able to fall through them.
  • A tight fitting mattress will reduce the risk of a baby getting caught between the mattress and the cot’s side.


  • A wide base on the high chair will help keep it stable.
  • If the high chair folds, check that it locks into position when opened.The high chair with a harness is best. Shoulder straps and a crotch strap on the harness will help keep your baby safe. Always use the harness.

Car seat

It is law in New Zealand to use a car seat for your child until they are 7 years old.  Information about the law can be found here. 

Your baby will need a car seat for their first car ride. This can be a capsule (rear facing seat with a carry handle) or a convertible seat that starts rear-facing and is turned forward facing when your baby is older.

It is strongly recommended that a second-hand car seat is used only if:

  • You know the car seat is within the manufacturer recommended life span
  • You know the history of the car seat – it hasn’t been in a crash
  • You have instructions 
  • You have tried it in your vehicle and know it fits well
  • All parts are in excellent condition with no fraying, discolouration or stretching on the harness
  • The buckle has no rust and stays clicked shut
  • The cover on the seat is in excellent condition.

If in any doubt about the suitability of the car seat, check with a child restraint technician. You can find a child restraint technician in your region.


  • Your baby will put toys in their mouth (it is part of how they discover the world) so make sure toys are well cleaned and rinsed of detergent before use.
  • Avoiding soft toys is a good idea as they are difficult to keep clean.
  • Toys need to be complete and have no small parts that could choke your baby. Toys and parts of toys should be more than 35mm wide to reduce the risk of choking.


  • A fireguard that is attached to the wall, has vertical bars, and no footholds allowing a child to climb will help prevent your baby from reaching the fire or heater.
  • Check the guard is going to fit the space you want it for and that you are going to be able to secure it to the wall.


Buying second-hand clothes or being given hand me-down clothing can be great.

  • Check that nightwear is going to be snug fitting. Buying pj’s that fit your baby snuggly, rather than be too big will reduce the risk of them catching fire.
  • Check for loose threads on clothing, these can get caught around fingers and toes.
  • Long ties around the neck of clothing is a danger, singlets, jackets – anything with a tie can be a strangulation hazard.
  • Wash and dry clothing before use.

There's more great information about Keeping Kids Safe, product safety and more on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website. 

Bottles (glass or plastic)

It’s good to know how and where the bottles have been used in the past, the type and manufacturer to be assured of accuracy of measurements ie privately imported bottles don’t always have the same quality control regulations.

Glass bottles
can generally be reused as long as they are completely intact.

Plastic bottles need to be replaced regularly according to manufacturer’s instructions, generally within 12 months. It can be difficult to know how old a second-hand bottle is. Also make sure the polycarbonate is BPA free.

Never use a bottle if:

  • It is chipped or cracked
  • Measurements are hard to read
  • Attachments ie teats and collars don’t fit properly
  • Glass appears cloudy or scratched.
  • You have no idea what the bottle has been used for 

Breast pumps

Although a used pump may be more affordable than a new one, there are health implications and it isn’t something we would recommend. Home sterilization methods are not always reliable to ensure the safe destruction of all germs, especially in the rubber parts. It is difficult, without knowing the history and how a pump has been used, to be sure that this is a good option.

To find our more information on breast pumps, see the La Leche League website.

The booklet Keeping Kids Safe (Children’s and nursery products from Consumer Affairs) contains some great information about second-hand and new nursery products.

An interesting link from Plunket
Here’s something I read on the Plunket website I thought you might find interesting.
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