A guide to buying second-hand

A guide to buying second-hand
Second-hand baby items can reduce your expenses, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks.

With the many expenses surrounding the arrival of a new baby, buying certain items second-hand can go a long way toward limiting costs. It’s a wise choice for both your wallet and the planet!

Why buy second-hand?

Between clothing, toys, furniture, and transportation gear (e.g., car seat, stroller, baby carrier), new-baby expenses can add up fast. According to BabyCenter’s online calculator tool, the first year of a baby’s life costs parents an estimated $5,800—if all items are purchased new. But is buying everything brand-new really necessary? If you’re shopping on a budget, second-hand items are a perfect solution.

This is where friends and family can be a huge help. One of your loved ones might be willing to lend or even give you a change table, a winter coat, or a baby bouncer, so don’t hesitate to ask. If no one has what you’re looking for, try browsing buy-and-sell websites or visiting second-hand stores.

According to the 2018 Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index, an annual report on the state of the second-hand economy in Canada, baby clothing and accessories are the third-most-exchanged goods in the country. Quebecers may rank second to last in terms of how often they buy used, but the arrival of a new baby is a great opportunity to discover the benefits of the second-hand market.

Buying second-hand encompasses the principles of a circular economy, a system aimed at getting the maximum use out of products before they’re ultimately recycled or turned into something new. Opting for used furniture and other baby items can save you hundreds of dollars, provided they’re in safe condition. It also makes you a more responsible consumer.

What to look out for

Car seats

Has your cousin offered to give you their eldest child’s old car seat? That’s very nice of them, especially if they’ve kept the item in good condition. However, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec doesn’t recommend using second-hand car seats. Over time, they may have been damaged by exposure to sunlight, temperature variations, and improper storage.

If you plan to use a second-hand car seat, make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • It bears the Transport Canada compliance label
  • It hasn’t passed its expiry date
  • The manufacturer’s instructions are included and all seat parts are present and intact
  • The seat has never been in an accident (an accident may have caused invisible cracks)


Did you know that a new stroller can cost as much as $1,000? It’s no wonder so many parents go the second-hand route! When shopping for a stroller, look for one that meet these Health Canada guidelines:

  • It’s labelled with the name of the manufacturer, the model number, and the date of manufacture
  • It was manufactured no earlier than 1985
  • The lap belt and safety harness are securely attached to the seat or frame
  • The brakes and locking mechanisms on folding models are in working order

Strollers sold in Canada must comply with the federal government’s Carriages and Strollers Regulations, which set out safety standards that manufacturers are required to meet. According to these regulations, all strollers that fold must have a latching system that requires action on the part of the user to engage, thereby preventing the stroller from folding accidentally. In addition, strollers should have no sharp edges and no openings where your baby’s fingers might get caught, for example.

High chairs

To ensure your little one’s safety as they learn to sit up on their own and eat solid foods, Health Canada recommends choosing a high chair that meets the following conditions:

  • It’s labelled with the name of the manufacturer, the model number, and the date of manufacture
  • It has a five-point safety harness (two waist belt buckles, one crotch strap, and two shoulder straps)
  • The latching or locking system is in good working order
  • Any exposed wooden or plastic parts are free from cracks or other defects


You can save a considerable amount by getting a used crib. However, Health Canada does not advise using a crib that’s more than 10 years old, as there’s a higher risk of broken, worn, loose, or missing parts. When choosing a crib, make sure all of its components are secure, especially the bars.


If you choose to buy second-hand baby toys, be sure to disinfect them before use to get rid of any germs. Hard toys can be run through the dishwasher at 60°C. Stuffed animals and other textile toys should be machine washed at 60°C for at least 50 minutes and then tumble dried on high.

Borrowing items from toy libraries is another budget-friendly option. Instead of books, these organizations loan toys and games for several weeks at a time, with membership fees typically ranging from $5 to $30. This website provides a list of toy libraries in Quebec: www.protegez-vous.ca (in French).


Pay attention to recalls!
Before buying any second-hand baby product, check that it hasn’t been recalled for any defects. You can do this by simply looking up the product on healthycanadians.gc.ca.

Recycling older items

Some end-of-life items can be recycled or turned into new products. Baby car seats are an excellent example: the Centre de recherche et d’éducation à l’environnement régional (CREER) has developed a method for turning them into park benches, picnic tables, and pet accessories. Waste management companies like TerraCycle recycle numerous baby products, including cribs, high chairs, and strollers. You can also take items to your nearest recycling depot (ecocentre) to dispose of them in an eco-friendly manner.


Things to keep in mind

  • Opting for second-hand baby items can save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Before buying anything second-hand, check that it’s still safe to use and that it hasn’t been recalled for any defects.
  • Baby accessories that are unsafe or too old to reuse can be recycled instead of thrown out.


Naitre et grandir.com

Research and copywriting: Rémi Leroux, Protégez-Vous
Web adaptation: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: August 2020


Photo: GettyImages/JackF