Secondhand Toys: Which Ones Should You Pass Up?

In the March issue of ShopSmart, put out by the publisher of Consumer Reports, experts analyzed used baby gear to determine “when you can gratefully say yes and when you should gracefully say no thanks.”  I am devoting several posts to discussing their findings.  (I’ve already written about baby bath tubs, car seats, cribs, and high chairs.)

Here’s what ShopSmart had to say about used toys:

Safe: Stuffed animals and most children’s books make fine hand-me-downs. In the case of lead contamination in used toys, there are many home lead inspection kits which can be purchased for under twenty dollars which will tell you whether the toys are safe.

Unsafe: Avoid any toys that are chipped, as well as any small parts that can fit through a tube of toilet paper, since they present serious choking hazards for small children.

I will admit something: I did not purchase a home lead inspection kit to test my daughter’s toys.  But here’s something else to ponder: toys can have lead in them whether they are used or new.  After all, those toys in the thrift store were once brand new.

I seem to fall on the more cavalier side of allowing secondhand baby gear into my home, but now I’m wondering about other parents’ habits.  Did you purchase a lead inspection kit?  What did you find?  What are your own standards for secondhand toys–or even new toys?

Secondhand toys work for me.  For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to We are THAT Family.

I just found out that this week is a themed Works for Me Wednesday: the Greatest Hits Edition.  Actually, this post is similar to our most popular WFMW entry ever: How Do You Sell Your Kids’ Clothing?  I’m not sure why, but that was our greatest hit!


  1. Here’s my thoughts — if you are concerned about lead at all, get your kid tested rather than testing the toys. It’s a simple blood test. I had my son tested at 1 and then again at 2 and both times he was below the normal level. So much easier than freaking out about the toys he plays with. I also want to add I did try to pick safe toys!

  2. I guess I am rather caviler as well with my daughter’s toys. We got a lot of hand me down toys, which she loves. I am concerned about lead, but I guess only to an extent. I haven’t bought a home lead testing kit, but when I do buy new toys, I try to take some care in what I choose to buy.

  3. We have received many hand-me-downs for our daughter, some of which are toys. I haven’t had too many safety concerns since we got the stuff from people whose kids are barely older than ours, thus the stuff is practically brand new anyway. Although our daughter is only 8 months old and doesn’t need much in the way of toys, we are planning on keeping them to a minimum in the future.

  4. I actually avoid stuffed animals as handmedowns (with the exception of ones that we bought new but are passing down to a second child). Most stuffed animals can’t be washed, so whatever got on them (including snot, etc.) is probably still there. That kind of grosses me out.

    I haven’t bought a lead test. That seems a little silly to me.

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