Watch out for hand-me-downs. That car seat your neighbor gave you might not be safe to use. Car seats actually come with expiration dates — generally 6 years after the manufacture date. And if you don't know the seat's history, you don't know whether it's been in a crash, which can render it unsafe.
Old baby furniture also poses a risk: While it would be sweet to have your grandson sleep in his daddy's old crib, you don't want to take a chance that the hardware will fail, plus there have been significant changes in crib safety standards over the past 20 years, including limits on the distance between slats and a ban on cutouts to prevent strangulation and entrapment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently prohibited the sale of drop-side cribs (which have an adjustable side that makes it easier to get a child in and out of bed) because babies have died when the rail detached.
For any children's equipment — new or used — it's important to check for recalls. Go to www.recalls.gov and sign up for recall alerts.