Many people aren’t sure if an expensive new baby carrier is worth it and looking for cheaper used baby carriers. Or a used option is preferred because of sustainability.
Whatever are the reasons, there are some points to look out for when shopping used!
In this article I want to narrow down what makes a good used carrier and what better not to buy.
Let’s start with stretchy options like stretchy wraps or stretchy simple, T-shirt-like slings.
I name a few here to make clear what I mean with Stretchy slings. I count in: Konny, K’tan, Boba wrap, etc)
A stretchy wrap is made of knitted fabric.
Some receive their stretch from the knitting technique alone, some use a small percentage of spandex (like 5%).
Everyone knows it. After some time and washes, T-shirts tend to get out of form and sock’s cuffs get loose.
The same happens with stretchy wraps and simple options.
When using such a worn out wrap, it lacks bounce back and it will become difficult to wrap your baby securely. The simple loop options can even become really dangerous because, when worn out and not holding your baby firmly to your body anymore, there is a high falling and suffocation risk if used hands free!
If you can’t inspect the stretchy option before buying or don’t know how often the wrap was used before (some people try a long stretchy wrap only once or twice before giving up), I strongly advice to buy any of these wraps and slings new!
The rucksack-like fullbuckle carriers are a better choice to shop used. An example for a full buckle you all know is the Ergobaby carrier. But there are plenty more brands!
If of good quality, they won’t tear and carry one, two, three, and even more babies without any problems.
However, even here you have to be cautious!
Because these fullbuckle carriers look sturdy, some really old models are out there, circling from one family to the next.
Even though they hold for a long time, fullbuckle carrier can tear too.
The most vulnerable part is the big buckle to close the waistbelt. Which is extremely important for safety. If the buckle breaks and completely opens while baby is in the carrier, it can fall. Most baby carriers have a safety loop next to the buckle on the waistbelt to prevent this.
Conditions that speed up weathering of the plastic parts, including all buckles, is sunlight and heat.
A buckle carrier, left in a car exposed to direct sunlight will break faster and easier. Who reads the manual of their carrier carefully will notice that this is a point mentioned in many of them.
I once owned a carrier that carried five babies happily before the buckle broke. However, when buying used, you usually don’t know how often it changed family already and how it was cared for.
This is another point to mention. Many do not know how to best care for a carrier in regards of cleaning.
Especially when it is made of natural fibers like cotton, it is necessary to wash it regularly, just like a common piece of clothing, which it basically is.
Drool pads are very helpful. Not only to keep the carrier clean but also to prevent the fabric of the carrier from aging. Baby’s saliva is damaging the fibers and having drool pads makes a daily wash needless.
Dirty fibers and sunlight can be factors for fabric and yarn damages.
Another point I would like to mention are outdated carrier models.
Have you ever thought of baby carriers as a product under constant development in regards of safety and comfort?
Research is progressing and we know more and more about the needs of our babies. While in the middle of the 20th century people thought that carrying a baby upright will damage the spine, we now know that the upright position is actually the most natural and best position for our babies.
These new research papers are also used by many baby carrier manufacturers. Unfortunately not all..
That’s why there are outdated baby carriers on the used market that are not the best and most comfortable way to carry a baby. The carrier manufacturers just never invested money to update their models. Because, you know, they are selling.
You might wonder why these outdated models are selling? Well, because not all parents are as informed as you 😉
Some used models are sold as they are, without notifying the buyer that, for example, an infant insert for newborns is needed. Most of the modern carriers have an adjustable seat to make them fit newborns. The old don’t.
You can read more about safely carrying a newborn here.
Baby carriers where the seat is so narrow that your baby’s legs are dangling straight down and all its weight is lasting on your baby’s groins will probably not damage your baby. But it will also not sit comfortable and the worldwide advised spread-squat-position (frog position) is actively helping your baby’s hip development.
Still, you are finding the narrow-seated baby carriers everywhere on the used market.
So, what to do now with used carriers? Should you avoid buying used?
HOW TO BUY USED BABY CARRIERS
No! Of course not!
There are real diamonds on the used market! Some of the carriers in my collection are also used!
Especially in Japan, people are very well communicating the condition of the items they sell used. There is only few scam and wrong information.
When buying a carrier used, look at the description carefully. Also, don’t buy when only product pictures of an online shop are attached.
It is necessary to see pictures of the real product to check the condition.
If the carrier looks old, the colors aren’t vibrant anymore and the carrier looks dirty, it might carry your baby safely, but it mustn’t.
Good example for a used carrier on Mercari
Once I got a model that was only used once or twice and did look like new. But it came to an unbeatable price!
However, just to clarify, the most modern models are not sold much cheaper than in shops. You might safe 10.000 Yen on them but they are still more expensive than older models. Also, the selection is limited if you are searching for international brands. Ergobaby and BabyBjörn are dominating and I do not recommend BabyBjörn without reservations.
Other carriers often found on Marketplaces are said stretchy options. I saw one handed down Baby K’tan at a friend and it already completely lost its flexibility and therefore became just too big. It was a completely useless baby carrier if wanting it for a hands free option. My friend is now using it as a simple option at home but always has one hand at the child when using it.
Modern Tula, Lillebaby, or European brands are rare but there is a small used market for woven baby wraps.
Here you can find used carriers from my collection.
Best is to search Marketplaces like Mercari right for the brand name you are interested in and not just “baby carrier”.
Browsing Facebook groups though, might be the way to find the cheapest offers. But here you will really have to be cautious because of outdated models.
If you just do not have the money to invest in a modern carrier, even if buying used, you can get in touch anytime. I have used carriers for those in need. They come with a free short introduction on how to use the carrier in the best way. Because, even outdated carriers can be used in a good and comfortable way for everyone if you know how 😉