What to Do With Old Baby Stuff
What to Do With Old Baby Stuff
September 23, 2022

What to Do With Old Baby Stuff

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What to Do With Old Baby Stuff.
What to Do With Old Baby Stuff

Cribs, car seats and baby bathtubs. Bottles, pacifiers and playards. Even if you stuck to a minimalist baby registry, odds are you’ve amassed quite the collection of gear since becoming a parent. And while you were probably worried about having all the things before baby came along, now you’re in a different predicament: what are you supposed to do with old baby stuff once you no longer need it?

The good news is that you have a few choices. Recycling, donating or even selling your old baby stuff are all potential options when the urge for a clean-out strikes. All it takes is a bit of research before you start tossing your old gear to the curb.

Getting Rid of Baby Stuff: Your Options

Ready to part ways with your old baby gear? You have three options: recycle, donate or sell.

  • Recycle. Recycling your old baby gear is an excellent way to reduce the amount of waste hitting the landfill. It’s an especially smart choice for big, bulky and often non-biodegradable gear that can’t be reused or sold, like car seats. Just keep in mind that there are specific rules around what can and can’t be recycled, as well as local rules you’ll have to follow based on where you live.
  • Donate. If you’re looking to donate your old baby gear, you’re in luck—organizations like nonprofits and thrift stores are always in the market for gently used baby gear. Other ideas for used baby gear donations include buy-nothing groups, churches and community centers, local community websites or simply passing items on to friends and family in need. Much like recycling your baby gear, however, you’ll want to know what’s acceptable for donation—and what’s not—before you get started.
  • Sell. As long as it’s still in decent shape, selling your old baby gear is a great way to recoup some of the money you may have spent buying items for your little one. Word of mouth and online marketplaces for used baby gear are two popular ways to sell your old stuff.

Recycle, Donate or Sell?

Figuring out whether you want to recycle, donate or sell your used baby gear—and how and where to do it—can feel a little daunting. Here’s what you need to know before you start.

How to Recycle Baby Gear

Many different types of baby gear are recyclable, and there are a few ways to do it. If you want to stay local, carefully check the recycling rules for the city or town where you live. Many areas run large recycling programs, and some even have special pickup or dropoff days for large or bulky items, but each area operates under its own set of rules—so be sure you’re aware of the specifics beforehand so you know which items are okay to recycle and which are not.

National recycling programs are also an option. Some are baby and kid-specific and many accept a broad range of items. Some are free, but others will cost you. Here are a few of the largest:

  • Terracycle Zero Waste Baby Gear Box. This national recycling program recycles all types of baby gear. You’ll need to purchase a Zero Waste Box (there are multiple sizes and types available), fill it with the items you’d like to recycle and send it back to Terracycle using a prepaid shipping label. The Baby Gear Zero Waste Box accepts a huge range of used baby gear including things like changing tables, strollers, car seats, carriers, diaper pails, baby toys and play mats, cribs and bassinets, bottles, bibs and much more. (The program doesn’t accept clothing or toys, electronics or anything containing lithium-ion batteries, baby-related waste or diapers.) Pro: you can donate just about anything baby-related, even big, bulky items. Con: it’s expensive.
  • LoadUp is a nationwide network of independently licensed and insured junk haulers who perform local pick-up and disposal services. Their baby gear removal and disposal program will pick up your used baby gear for eco-friendly disposal including recycling and donation to local charities. Per the company’s website, the average cost for baby gear removal starts at about $75, and they accept all types of gear including items like strollers and cribs, car seats, high chairs, bouncers and swings, bassinets and more. Pro: you don’t have to leave your house, pack a box or haul anything away yourself. Con: it’ll cost you.
  • Zappos for Good, shoes and gently used books. Pro: you’ll be able to ship your stuff free of charge. Con: they don’t accept a huge range of items (e.g. no baby gear.)

Many types of used baby gear, including items like plastic and glass baby bottles, breast pumps, clothing and shoes, and even car seats are recyclable via either curbside recycling or national programs. (Our item-by-item breakdown below has specific information on this.) You’ll also want to check your local recycling guidelines for rigid plastics (hard, inflexible plastics) to see if they’ll take items like diaper pails or baby bathtubs.

How to Donate Used Baby Gear

Donating your gently used baby gear benefits both you and other families. Local and national nonprofits, charities, churches, diaper/baby banks, thrift stores, community centers, buy nothing groups and sometimes even local schools accept all sorts of baby and kid items as long as they’re in fairly good condition. Here’s what to keep in mind before you donate:

  • Always check the specific guidelines of the group or organization that’s going to receive your donations. Learn what items they’ll accept—and which ones they won’t—before you donate. (More on what specific items can and can’t be donated below.) You don’t want to create more work for them, so be sure to follow the rules.
  • Check your gear for any damage, including structural damage, chips, rips etc. Don’t donate anything that’s not structurally sound. Also, be sure that all parts and pieces are accounted for.
  • Have brand new items that your little one has grown out of or hasn’t used? (Think: disposable diapers that are too small, outgrown clothes your baby never had a chance to wear and even postpartum supplies like pads or breast pads.) Lots of organizations are happy to take new items off of your hands, too.
  • Think locally. Many areas have nonprofits and charities that work hyper-locally, so your donation will go directly to families within your own community.

How to Sell Used Baby Gear

Baby gear is expensive, and selling what your little one has outgrown or no longer uses can help you recoup some of what you spent. Online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace and local baby/kids Facebook swap groups are two places to start. Other online marketplaces for used baby gear include sites like Good Buy Gear and Weepea and more general sites (with baby-specific sections) like eBay.

As is the case if you’re recycling or donating items, you’ll need to follow certain guidelines if you plan on selling your used baby gear.

  • Check recalls.gov to make sure there aren’t any recalls issued on whatever you’re trying to sell.
  • Federal safety standards for baby gear are always evolving, so be aware that things may have changed since you purchased the gear you’re trying to sell. Strollers, for example, were subject to new standards in 2015, as were playards in 2013.
  • It’s not recommended to sell cribs, crib mattresses or high chairs. (More on that below.)

What to Do with Old Baby Stuff

Bookmark this—here’s the best way to get rid of all that old baby stuff that’s currently taking up space in your home.

Car Seats

Car seats, including infant car seats and convertible seats, are some of the more complicated baby items to get rid of. Many organizations won’t accept car seat donations because of safety concerns. (Car seats also have expiration dates, another thing to keep in mind.)

As long as the seat hasn’t been dropped or been involved in a crash (even a minor one counts!), and it isn’t expired, you can try to sell it; just be sure to clearly state the seat’s expiration date and give a full rundown of its history of use.

Recycling or participating in a trade-in program are likely your best bets when it’s time to part ways with your seat.

  • Recycle Your Car Seat has a list of car seat recycling programs across the US. Many are free of charge. Terracycle’s Zero Waste Baby Gear Box is also an option, but you’ll pay. If you have a Clek seat, the brand has its own recycling program in the US and Canada.
  • Target’s Car Seat Trade-In program takes place twice a year. Bring in an old, expired or damaged car seat to any Target store and they’ll recycle it and give you a coupon for 20% off one car seat, one stroller or other select baby gear.

Strollers

Selling or donating your used stroller are your two best options. Be sure your stroller is in working order (be sure to check things like the wheels, brake, buckles, canopy and folding mechanism); if not, many brands sell replacement parts.

Cribs and Crib Mattresses

Similar to car seats, it’s not recommended to sell or donate used cribs or crib mattresses because of safety concerns. Both are held to very high and constantly evolving safety standards, and both tend to weaken over time, especially after consistent use.

Some organizations may accept lightly used cribs and crib mattresses, but you’ll have to do your research first. Crib mattress recycling is also available in some areas of the US; check the Mattress Recycling Council or Bye Bye Mattress for details.

Bouncers and Swings, Baby Carriers and Other Gear

Baby gear like bouncers, swings, playards, baby seats, baby carriers and other gear can either be sold or donated, assuming the gear is still in fairly good condition. Some can even be recycled through Terracycle.

Some brands offer specific programs for selling or donating their gear. Everlove, a program run by Ergobaby, is a buyback, restoration and resell program for the brand’s used baby carriers. Other brands run similar programs that you can research if you’re interested.

Feeding Gear

Many plastic feeding gear—items like sippy cups, dishware, utensils, plastic and glass bottles, glass baby food jars and even breast milk bags—are curbside recyclable depending on your area’s recycling guidelines and the types of plastics they accept.

Pacifiers and bottle nipples are not recyclable. Neither are baby food pouches and caps, but some brands have specific recycling programs available:

You can also donate or sell many baby feeding products, including high chairs. It’s not recommended to pass along bottle nipples and pacifiers, however, because of bacteria and potential damage.

Diapers and Wipes

Donating new diapers and wipes is generally the best way to get rid of what you no longer need. New, unopened diapers and unopened wipes are best, but some organizations will also take opened packages of unused disposable diapers.

Diaper banks, organizations dedicated to providing families in need with diapers and wipes, are a good option. (Federally funded public assistance programs do not pay for diapers and wipes.) You can find a diaper bank near you through the National Diaper Bank Network.

Bath

Baby bathtubs are easy to sanitize, so they’re great used items to sell or donate. Some can also be recycled, depending on what types of curbside plastics are accepted in your area. (Check the guidelines around rigid plastics.)

Breast Pumps

Breast pumps are considered medical devices, so there are a few things to note before getting rid of one. There are two types of pumps: open and closed systems. Closed system pumps have a barrier between the collection kit and the pump’s tubing, while open system pumps do not. Many pumps (both open and closed systems) are designed to be used by a single user, but open system pumps are a definite no-no for sharing due to the (small) risk of contamination.

Closed system pumps in good working order can be sold or donated depending on the organization’s requirements. Some breast pumps can even be recycled. Medela Recycles, for example, is a breast pump recycling program for Medela brand pumps. Spectra recommends recycling their pumps through an appliance or PC recycling center.

Pump parts like breast shields, tubing, bottles, necks, caps and valves can often be curbside recycled. (Silicone parts must be thrown away.) Some manual breast pumps can also be recycled.

Clothing and Shoes

Baby and toddler clothing and shoes are popular resale items since children grow so quickly and many parents don’t want to pay full price for items that will only last a few months.

  • Local swap groups and Facebook Marketplace are good places to start if you’re looking to sell used clothing and footwear, as are local thrift or consignment stores in your area.
  • Specialty sites like Kidizen, Poshmark, Mercari and ThredUP are also good options.
  • If you’re looking to donate clothing and shoes, most national and local nonprofits and organizations accept these types of donations. Zappos even offers free shipping on shoe donations to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit dedicated to providing relief through shoe and clothing donations.

Looking to recycle your used clothing? That’s also an option for certain brands. Brand-specific programs like Carter’s Baby and Kid Clothing Free Recycling Program let you do just this. Many areas also have specific clothing and textile drop-off locations to recycle items like clothing, shoes, coats, accessories and more.

Toys, Books and Stuffed Animals

Most toys can be recycled, donated or sold. Electronic toys can usually be recycled with other electronics. (Many areas have specific days or dropoff locations for electronics recycling, so check with your town or city.) Some brands even have specific toy recycling programs, like Hasbro and VTech/LeapFrog.

Gently used books can also be recycled, donated or sold. Many national organizations accept books, including places like The Salvation Army, Goodwill and even Zappos. And don’t forget your local library or schools.

Stuffed animals are a bit trickier. You can sell them, but many organizations won’t accept donations because of germs. A good solution: your local pet shelter! Just be sure to check the safety guidelines first.

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