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When to Hand Down or Toss Old Baby Products

Photo: iStockphoto/Yuriy Chaban

Passing on things your child has outgrown is a great way to help out other parents. It’s also good for the environment, since that’s a lot less “stuff” going into a landfill. Books, gear, toys – and of course clothes – often get outgrown before they get used up. But not everything is appropriate for re-use.

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Here is a list of those things that are better to dispose of because of health or safety considerations:

  • Car seats. Due to safety issues, this is the number-one item you shouldn’t pass down or donate. The more a car seat has been used, the less likely it will perform up to its original crash standards. And the standards are always evolving, so experts recommend new parents always buy a new car seat.
  • Cribs. Drop-side cribs have been banned, and many older cribs have slats that are an unsafe distance apart and/or don’t meet the new and improved strength and performance standards. Not only are used cribs not guaranteed to be safe, it’s actually now illegal to sell, donate, pass on or lend a crib manufactured prior to July 26, 2011.
  • Breast pumps. Besides the obvious health reasons, non-hospital grade breast pumps are only designed for a single user. Even if you replaced all the accessories and tubing, the motor will wear down with use and not have the suction necessary for prolonged use.
  • Pillows and mattresses. Dust, dust-mites, dander, and other allergens will settle into most mattresses, compromising the health of a newborn’s sleep environment. In fact, First Candle and the AAP recommend that families use a new crib mattress with each child born.
  • Opened containers of consumable products. This includes formula, food, bath products and skin care products. When the container has been opened, there’s a risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Used stuffed animals. Because of the risk of bed bugs and bacteria, most places won’t take used stuffed animals or any other fabric items that can’t be washed.
  • Antique or vintage toys. There are different risk factors, including choking hazards and the potential that it contains lead. These might make nice decorative items, but save them for your shelves.
  • Bed rails. Again, this is an item for which safety standards have evolved and the risk of out-of-date standards is not worth the savings.

The good news is, that leaves plenty of other items that are fine to pass on to a friend or donate to a good cause, including clothes, newer toys, diaper bags, later-model strollers, books, and small electronics.

Not sure what to do with your used baby items? There are plenty of organizations out there that would be happy to find new homes for them. Here are some of our favorites!



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