Baby Items: What to Reuse and What to Buy New

Let’s face it; having children is an expensive affair, which can sometimes lead us to try to save money wherever we can. However, there are a couple of things we need to think about before we start reusing everything for our second, third and fourth baby. 

Aside from taking into consideration the wear and tear on the products, some things are strictly used once only, for safety reasons. Which also means sometimes you will have to say no and turn down generous offers of hand-me-downs from relatives and friends. Here are some baby items you need to buy brand new, some you can reuse provided you replace certain parts and those you can reuse safely without any worry. 

What you should buy new

The obvious first step when determining whether you should buy new or not is how long a particular baby item has been used. Are they discoloured? Are they past their expiry date or do they look super worn out? Here are some of the baby items that fall in the “use once only” category.

Diapers and Wipes

Needless to say, if you’re thinking of using disposable diapers, you will need to buy new ones every time you run out. 

Cloth diaper parents wouldn’t have to, although some parents still prefer not to reuse the inserts for hygiene purposes. Of course, some would argue that one could easily bleach and clean the inserts thoroughly. Perhaps some are just queasier than others and prefer to buy them new. So, to replace or not to replace all rolls down to personal preference in the end.

Bath Wash, Shampoos, Lotions

Generally bath wash, shampoos and lotions can be reused unless two things happen. It is likely you will need to buy brand new if the gap between children is too wide or your next child has sensitive skin. You also need to take into consideration that the average shelf life of an opened bottle of liquid soap is about three years. Organic products have an even shorter life span and tend to only last one year at the most before it needs to be thrown away. 

Pacifiers, Bottle Teats and Brush

Pacifiers and bottle teats will definitely need to be replaced quite often as rubber teats have an average functional life of about three months whereas silicone teats, can last up to about six months. When bottles teats are used every day and sanitised with heat daily, it could cause them to break down after a while. 

BPA free plastic bottle parts one the other hand are more durable, so they do not usually have an expiration date. But even bottles still need to be replaced if they are cracked, chipped, discoloured, or leaking in any way. 

Bassinet Pad/Mattress

Some parents might ask why a new mattress tho? If a mattress is not soiled and is still firm, by all means, reuse it. But experts recommend replacing a sunken mattress or bassinet pad for safety reasons.

You need to bear in mind that old non-organic mattresses could give off-gasses, and sunken beds that are no longer firm could increase the chances of SIDS. So be sure you always remember to check ahead of time. Mattress safety should never be taken lightly.

Nursing Pillow

Likewise, nursing mothers also need to ensure that their nursing pillows have not flattened from frequent use. Most breastfeeding problems stem from bad latching, which could also be caused by poor positioning.

Unless you’re pretty crafty and can add more stuffing to revamp your old nursing pillow, it would be best to purchase a new one to avoid problems draining your breast completely, nipple pain and backache later.

Car Seat

All car seats have an expiry date which is clearly displayed on the sticker along with the car seat’s serial number. Alternatively, you can also check the manufacturing date as car seats typically expire six years from the date of manufacture. But the most important part before receiving any hand-me-downs is knowing the history of the car seat. Any car seat that has been in an accident needs to be written off and replaced even if it doesn’t seem broken to you.

What you can reuse

Finally! Some good news, so we don’t end up burning holes in our wallets! Saving money is crucial when you have a growing family. Which is why being able to reuse and recycle some baby items could save a lot. Hand-me-downs? Even better!

Here are some of the items you can reuse. They don’t have to be mint – just in decent working condition.

  • Grooming Kits (Emery boards, nail clippers, brushes)
  • Play Yard
  • Stroller
  • Carrier
  • Baby Clothes
  • Bouncer/Swing
  • Bassinet
  • Baby Monitor
  • High Chair
  • Car seat (depending on the manufacturing date)
  • Baby furniture
  • Dressers
  • Changing Table
  • Crib 

Generally, most of the bigger baby items can be reused even if they’ve had a few years in, as long as they:

  • are not past their expiry date
  • do not have any loose or missing parts, 
  • are in good condition and 
  • haven’t been recalled for any safety issues.

What you can reuse with replacement parts

Breast pump

Buying second-hand breast pumps is a common thing amongst Malaysian mums, especially good ones that have been used gently.  Reusing one shouldn’t be a problem as you replace crucial parts like the valves, tubes and breast pump attachment pieces that look worn. Check ahead of time before your baby is due so that you have ample time to make sure they are in working order. Servicing will take time and if your pump doesn’t seem to be functioning as well as it should, then buying new may the more practical alternative.

Bottles and bottle nipples

Reusing bottles is usually a question of hygiene and if, it is being recycled within the family, then why not. If the bottles are relatively new and BPA-free, they should be okay for reuse. However, if you’re talking about years in the gap between children, then it is safer for you to replace the bottles that may have broken down. Always discard old bottle teats as they could contain harmful bacteria.

Safety above else

Remember that even when you can easily reuse certain items, your baby’s safety should be the primary focus at all time. With the right information and a little sleuthing around, parents can save a lot by inheriting hand-me-downs and buying second-hand items that are safe for reuse. By being prudent with your checks and keeping up to date on all recalls, you’ll be able to save money and receive the new bundle of joy without breaking the bank.

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