As you prepare for the arrival of your second child, it is only natural to explore ways to save money.
Which items will you need to buy new, and which things are okay to hold onto? Starting with their day-to-day feeding bottles — are these still good the second time around?
Can you reuse bottles for second baby? Old baby bottles are fine for re-use as long as the plastic body of the bottle is not cracked, discolored, or warped and the bottles are sterilized. The teats of bottles, however, need replacing due to deterioration, which could affect liquid flow and risk choking hazards due to broken material.
Plenty of baby gear can happily be used again for your newest little bundle of joy, but others are a no-go for hygiene and safety reasons.
Let’s find out which can be treasured or trashed and why…
Baby Items That Can Be Reused
As long as they’re undamaged and in good condition, most baby items can be safely passed down.
Some things on this list (feeding equipment, clothes, towels, etc.) simply need a thorough cleaning.
Other more complex items like baby bouncers and strollers may have been recalled since you last used them, so ensure these are still safe for use.
Your baby’s old feeding bottles are perfectly safe to reuse. Think of them like dishes— as long as they are properly cleaned and sterilized, they will be safe for use again and again.
Always check for serious signs of wear like cracks or any rough edges. Otherwise, even your 5-year-plus bottles (and beyond!) will be fine.
Clothing & Bedding
Baby clothes, especially in the early years, barely get much use as your little one is outgrowing things in the blink of an eye, so clothes can definitely be reused (and are too expensive not to!).
Unisex jeans, trousers, and tops can be used for either a boy or a girl.
Same for bedding – just be sure to check for obvious signs of wear like loose thread pulls or holes in the material that teeny baby hands or feet could get caught in.
It may not feel right, but renewable cloth diapers are made to be reused and will be perfectly fine for your next little one, especially when you stick to a thorough cleaning routine.
Assuming the table is still fully functional and has no chips, rough/sharp edges, or other obvious signs of wear from being in storage, then you’re good to go!
Just disinfect the changing table before first reuse with an all-purpose pH-neutral cleaning solution — the first spray on this list is a great homemade solution.
Bassinet & Crib
Check that the old crib, bassinet/Moses basket, etc. still complies with safety standards and hasn’t been recalled for any reason. Otherwise, these are perfectly safe to pass on to your next baby.
Alex from One Clueless Mom does urge you to replace the small mattresses in cribs/bassinets, however, as there are concerns that lingering bacteria on a second-hand mattress “may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”
So long as the bathtub has no cracks or mold anywhere to speak of, these plastic baby bathtubs can be washed and used again.
Towels and washcloths are fine too after a thorough wash in baby-safe detergent beforehand (you may decide to buy soft, new towels anyway since not much can be done about old towels developing a stiff, rough quality).
Toys made from soft, plush materials can usually be thrown in the wash if you check the label. Hard plastic toys can be cleaned and sterilized as you would with their bottles.
Just ensure that the old toys you introduce to your little one pass a basic safety checklist (haven’t been recalled, are age appropriate, pose no choking hazard risk, etc.)
Once cleaned and checked for cracks/chips in the hardware, baby playpens are fine to pass down. You can even continue using them in great new ways as your kids grow older too!
Check that the straps and material of old baby slings and carriers are still taut and that there are no broken fastenings/buckles.
Strollers are one of your most expensive baby purchases for good reason — a well-made one should stand the test of time for babies no. 2, 3, and 10!
Even if the fabric and unimportant cosmetics fade, the standard safety features should be solid.
Simply give it a clean, freshen it up after being in storage, and check with the manufacturer that it hasn’t been recalled.
As long as the breast pump has been used by you and you alone (no other woman), then all parts of a breast pump can be sterilized and safely reused.
If you’d prefer to buy new, mother Jamie Davis Smith of the blog Tiny Beans advises checking your health insurance coverage first: “Many insurance companies cover a new breast pump for each pregnancy.”
High Chair & Booster Seats
Like a quality stroller, most high chairs and booster seats are designed to hold up to the wear and tear of multiple children.
Always ensure they are stable, have no broken or missing parts, and pose no risk of the baby sliding out or not being secured when using them.
Baby Gyms & Bouncers
Some baby apparatus like bouncers, swings, walkers, and play gyms can come with expiration dates written either on the packaging or on the equipment itself. If not, check whether the equipment has been recalled or not.
These items could be unsafe to use if they are bought second-hand as you wouldn’t be aware of any missing parts or whether falls/injuries occurred.
For one you already own from a previous baby, simply check that all the parts are stable and showing no obvious signs of wear.
Conventional audio/video baby monitors should be fine (apart from needing new batteries/extra charge etc.).
“Smart” WiFi-enabled baby monitors, however, could run the risk of being hacked, especially if it has been in storage for a while or passed on by a friend as it may not be updated with the right security features.
Find out more about protecting smart monitors here.
Undamaged Car Seats
Children’s car seats are being improved upon all the time, so first check that yours complies with safety standards to ensure it can be safely reused.
Also, never use a car seat outside of your family as these may have missing fitting/safety instructions. Plus, there is no way of knowing if this kindly donated car seat was involved in some kind of accident.
Baby-proofing gear such as stair gates can be reused as long as they still comply with current safety standards and have all of their original parts and fixings.
Just ensure no areas have weakened from repeated use.
Baby Dishes & (Undamaged) Utensils
Baby dishes, plates, and tools can be reused if they are thoroughly cleaned in between use and have no damage, i.e., no rough/worn-down areas, sharp edges, etc.
Open-top drinking cups are fine but not sippy cups as these will have been in constant contact with your other child’s mouth.
Baby Items That Should NOT Be Reused
For obvious concerns over hygiene and safety, some baby items should definitely not be reused.
These include things that have been in direct and repeated contact with your child’s mouth, such as teethers, pacifiers, and bottle nipples.
Since the teats or “nipples” of a baby bottle get the most wear and tear, these are normally no longer suitable for reuse.
According to Web MD and Baby Center, the nipples should be thrown away if liquid pours out in a stream, suggesting the hole in the teat has worn away and become too big.
Discoloration, thinning, and tears are also signs the material has weakened beyond use.
Aside from the bristles wearing away, the bacteria lingering on the brush used to clean all that milk and juice residue from the baby bottle the first time around doesn’t bear thinking about. Throw it away, and replace it!
Damaged Car Seats
It goes without saying that a damaged car seat will be unsuitable for use.
Faded fabric is okay, but once you spot even small hairline cracks or fractures in the plastic hardware, this could point to weakened areas elsewhere, such as a deteriorating/slackened harness or a damaged fitting.
Pacifiers are thankfully inexpensive enough to buy new each time.
The silicone, rubber, and latex that most pacifiers are made from can degrade over time, causing splits and tears, and old ones can even pose a choking hazard if the main rubber teat breaks off from the hard plastic base.
Teethers face not only the brunt of your baby’s repetitive gumming (creating dents and bumps in the material that could be uncomfortable/painful for your new baby), but they also get on an onslaught of bacteria from months of your elder child’s saliva!
Don’t even hesitate to buy new ones for your expected arrival.
Brand-new mattresses are firm and provide support, but over time, the surface can become saggy and indented, which has been found to increase the risk of SIDS by the UK charity the Lullaby Trust.
A 2021 Which? consumer survey also found that 9 in 10 owners of a second-hand crib mattress reported problems with it.
These kits contain things like nasal aspirators, thermometers, and toothbrushes — straight away these are three items that will be laced with germs you do not want to pass onto your newborn!
Like bottle nipples, breastfeeding nipple shields go through a lot of wear, bacterial contamination, and washing to the point that the material begins to break down and become discolored, risking small parts breaking off.
When Should You Throw Baby Bottles Away?
Discoloration and tears on the bottle nipple indicate that these should be discarded.
As for the body of the baby bottle itself, Baby Center suggests that these should be thrown away once any chips, cracks, or breaks in the material appear as these may harbor bacteria and pinch or cut your baby. Look for bottle discoloration too.
Do You Need To Sterilize Pacifiers Before Use?
Yes, it’s recommended that you sterilize new pacifiers before their first use using boiling water or steam bag methods.
This is to ensure that any potential germs or lingering substances left on the pacifiers during the manufacturing process are neutralized.
To summarize, many everyday items used by your baby, including their bottles, can be safely reused as long as they are properly cleaned and sterilized.
Always take care to check that cribs, strollers, and baby bouncer-type equipment have not been recalled since their first use to ensure they will still be okay, and be very cautious about using crib mattresses second-hand as these need to comply with very strict safety standards and considerations.
Rebecca is a seasoned copywriter and researcher with over a decade of experience, specializing in parenting topics. With a passion for all aspects of raising children, from breastfeeding to potty training.