Getting ready for baby number 2 has been a completely different experience than being a first-time mom. As a first-timer, I read all the books … researched the gear … planned everything well in advance … decorated the nursery oh-so-cute … and stocked up on everything under the sun! That was 4 years ago. Now I find myself less than 10 weeks away from bringing baby number 2 home and the only prepping I’ve done is getting my son settled into his super cool new big boy room! I have yet to pull anything out of the attic or paint over the carefully hand-painted “Jacob” on the wall of the nursery. It’s not that I am not as excited this time around, I guess I’m just more relaxed – oh yeah – and super busy being a working mom of a 4-year old!
So this weekend my husband and I made the trek to Babies R Us to begin scoping out what we needed to get this time around. Instantly I noticed how much cuter and “updated” everything seemed to be and it made me want to start over fresh with everything. Quickly reality set in (in the form of my husband’s voice) and the frugal side of me realized this was not practical. So it raised the question – what exactly SHOULD you buy new for each new child and what can safely be recycled???
After doing a little research, the good news is, most everything can be recycled! (Of course there are many things we will want to update…) There are a few things, however, that pose safety concerns and absolutely should be considered. So here’s a quick Smarty Guide on what you should buy new (or at least consider buying new) and when. I’ve included some tips, not only for recycling your own stuff from child to child, but also for first time parents who may want to borrow or buy used.
When we think of child safety, this is the big one. The rule of thumb is to NEVER buy a used car seat. Why? You just don’t know the history of it – how old is it? Has it been in an accident? Are all the original parts in tact? Is it under recall? Unless you can be absolutely certain a used car seat meets all the safety criteria, you are better off just buying a new one! Plus the technology of car seats improves every year, so one that is 5 years old may lack important safety features that today’s models have.
As for reusing a car seat you already have – you’ll need to check the expiration date. Most car seats expire after 5 years. You can check with the specific manufacturer to be sure. You should also check a recall list to make sure you’re model hasn’t been recalled since you purchased it – You can check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) online at www.nhtsa.dot.gov or call toll free at 800.424.9393.
I also feel compelled to reiterate that if a car seat has ever been in an automobile accident, no matter how big or small, you absolutely should replace it! Crash forces can weaken or damage child safety seats, safety belts, and other protective devices, making them less effective. At a minimum, you should contact the manufacturer for advice. The manufacturer knows the product’s capabilities and limitations and can best advise you what to do. Better to be safe than sorry!
This one applies more to first-timers … often baby furniture is passed down over the generations or purchased at a secondhand store to save a little money (because they sure aren’t cheap to buy new!!). Beware of older or used cribs though! Older cribs very likely will not have the safety features required of cribs manufactured today. Many crib hazards include corner posts, loose hardware, slats that are too far apart, decorative cutouts in headboards and footboards, lead-based paint and more. Even a well-meaning friend that wants to sell or lend you her crib may pose a problem if there are missing parts or directions. One way to be sure you have a safe crib is to buy it new in the United States – all new cribs sold in the US or Canada must meet federal safety standards.
Obviously if you purchased a crib new for your first, and know you have all the pieces to put it back together, you are safe to use it again for subsequent babies. Also, be sure to continually check your crib to make sure all the pieces are tightly connected.
I had always heard that you should buy a new mattress for each new child. However, I couldn’t really find any evidence to support this in my research. The main thing to be concerned about here again is safety. The two most important qualities in a crib mattress are firmness and fit. If you feel like your mattress is compromised in either of these areas, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and get a new one. Well worth the money to ensure some peace of mind as your little one sleeps!
With all the recent news on bottles containing BPA, this one is not so cut and dry. Check out this CSP post back in February pertaining to BPA-Free bottles. Go with your gut on what type of bottle you want and whether or not you want to reuse your old ones. Regardless of your decision on the bottle itself, you probably should replace all the nipples with new ones. In fact, you should check your nipples at least every 2 – 3 months for signs of wear and tear and update them often.
* Please keep in mind these are only tips based off of my own internet searching and reading the latest Baby Bargains book. When in doubt – always check with manufacturers on what you should do.
So … now it comes down to personal preference and budget on all the rest! I definitely plan to update the nursery, but unfortunately we’ve decided to hold off on major decorating until the baby arrives … yes, I am one of the rare few that decided to wait to find out what gender it is! And that also plays into clothes and toys – I’ll be set if it’s another boy, but watch out if it’s a girl!!! So for now I will resort to double-checking recalls and getting a few key things, and thanks to all the great Smarty advice on strollers that will be on the top of my list!
Click here for single-stroller advice or here for double-stroller advice.
Does anyone have any other advice on things that should be updated?? Not necessarily for safety reasons, but just because the newer models are that much better???
The one thing that I can think of that might be “better”, since you last used one 4 years ago, would be a new swing. Fisher Price now makes a swing that plugs in! That is a big plus if you are a heavy swing user, especially since those things seem to suck down the batteries. There again this would be a nice to have, but not a have to have. Things that have been invented since your first time around,like Bumbo seats, I would say borrow and save that money.
My question for other parents out there is in regards to mattresses. As with most things, you get what you pay for, however is there really a difference in mattresses once you get over $100? I dont want to be cheap but I dont want to spend a lot of money if the quality is the same. Thanks for your help.
Sorry I don’t have a direct answer to your mattress question. However, prior to having my first daughter, my husband and I used the book “Baby Bargains” for all of our research and purchases. They often update this. I would suggest picking up the latest addition for reference as it is a valuable source for every parent and should provide answers to any questions you have about mattresses.
We bought a mattress for $89.99 for our first child and then used it 5 1/2 years later for the second child and it did great. It was nice to be able to put that money toward something else. We did find that by spending more on things like the stroller and high chair with the first child we did not have to replace with our second. We just ordered a new high chair cover from Peg and we were good to go! “Buy Quality” was the best advice we received!
I would definitely recommend picking up the latest version of Baby Bargains. It is full of GREAT information on what to get – comparing items not only by price, but also safety, ease of use, wearability, etc. And it does include a section on mattresses. I was not going to buy a new copy for this baby, but ended up anyway (mostly to help write this post, but realized how much help it was going to be for me personnally).
I am about to have my second child in June. With my first child I used a baby bjorn, and it seemed to fit my needs well at the time. I never had or used a sling, but always liked the way they looked. Was wondering if there would be any benefit in purchasing a sling this time ?
This is in response to the question about the sling…I just had my 2nd baby 5 weeks ago. I have a Bjorn, and am about to order a sling…With a 2 year old to run after I feel that I need the baby more “off to the side” versus right out front. I do a lot of bending down and the Bjorn makes it difficult. Everyone I know that has a sling loves it. I can’t wait to get one! Regardless a sling or a Bjorn is a MUST with a second because you need your hands free for the first!
Thanks for the response regarding the sling. I feel much better about going ahead and ordering one, your explanation makes perfect sense. Thanks
I used a Bjorn with #1 and a sling with #2 and LOVE LOVE the sling. So much more comfortable for me and less hot for both baby and me.