Though you could easilyspend a small fortune on buying every last item for your baby brand new,there are several plentiful sources of secondhand baby clothes andequipment. You can often get what you need from family and friends,local 'small ads', or (conveniently under one roof), your local NCTbranch's Nearly New Sales (click the button on the home page for detailsof NCT sales coming up in your area).
'Nearly new' baby gear is often hardly used - since babies grow sofast, their outgrown kit may be more or less pristine. Clothes can be afantastic bargain, as can more expensive items such as prams (manypeople use prams for shorter time span than they initially think, so youcan get a hardly used model to see you through and save your money for abuggy which your baby will probably need from six months onwards).
But because you don't have any guarantees with secondhand babyequipment you need to be careful what you buy, and where you buy itfrom. Here's our suggestions for do's and don'ts to help you feel securein kitting out your baby with everything she needs at a bargain price:
• Buy from people you know if possible, or from the NCT, which setsstrict standards for items it will accept into nearly new sales
• Give baby clothes, bedding and washable elements of prams a good wash or scrub before you store and use them.
• Wash baby toys, too - young babies put everything in their mouths.
• Ask whether buggies have recently been serviced, or car seats haveever been dropped or in an accident. Check safety straps aren't frayingor worn, and that clips work properly. It's essential to be sure thatwhat you're buying is safe for your baby.
• If you're buying a buggy or pram secondhand, check that it isstill in production, or that spare parts are available. If a wheel fallsoff or the raincover splits and you can't buy another one, your bargainis useless.
• Ask if instruction manuals have been kept for items such asstairgates, nursery furniture, cots and prams - even thesimplest-looking items can be hard to dismantle or put together safelywithout instructions.
• Ever use a secondhand mattress for your baby. If you buy asecondhand cot, be sure that it has not been painted with any thingwhich could come off as your baby chews the cot, and that the cot barsand fixings could not trap a baby's head.
• Don't accept a secondhand car seat unless it comes from a sourcewhere you can be absolutely certain it has not been dropped or alreadybeen in an accident (car seats become weakened if this has happened andfor this reason the NCT will not accept them in its Nearly New Sales).
• Make sure that all toys are safe for a young baby, with no looseparts, long fur, tie or ribbons. If they don't have packaging orinstructions which have age guidelines, you may be better off avoiding.