In this economy, everyone is looking for any way possible to save some money. It’s sometimes even more difficult for those who have children. They grow so fast, and need so many things, it can be quite a challenge to keep up and provide them with everything they need. It’s not uncommon for the younger children in a family to be given hand-me-down clothes once the older children grow out of them. But can you do the same thing with things like car seats? The real question is, should you?
You may not think twice about accepting baby items from a family member. In fact, it’s one of the great things about having family — being able to help each other out that way. Baby clothes, shoes, bibs, blankets, and even winter hats and mittens can be expensive, not necessarily individually, but because so many of those things must be purchased as the baby grows, and grows out of everything so quickly. Expectant parents may also check sites such as Craigslist and eBay to find gently worn clothing.
You’ll also find larger items on those sites, and at yard sales. Many people see nothing wrong with selling their old car seats, strollers, high chairs, cribs, and other baby necessities. It’s much better than having them end up in landfills. The problem is, when you buy these types of items from strangers, there is no way to verify their history.
If a car seat was installed in a vehicle that was in an accident, it may have been damaged, or just stressed to the point where it’s no longer safe. How will you know whether the second hand car seat you buy is safe? Will the seller really tell you if it’s not?
Other than accidents or damage, many defective child products are recalled every year. It happens more than you may think. The sad thing is, many of these problems are not discovered until a few children have been injured — or in some cases, killed — and the manufacturer becomes aware of the problem. This is what happened recently when approximately two million Graco strollers were recalled after four infants died of strangulation. A similar recall occurred when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed a study, and discovered more than 13,000 Evenflo car seats on the market were potentially dangerous.
If you decide to go with a used baby item such as a crib, stroller, or car seat, keep a few things in mind. If you’re getting it from a close friend or family member, you’ll most likely know its history (whether the car seat was involved in an accident, whether the child was ever injured while in the crib), so there should be little to worry about. It’s still a good idea, though, to check the item’s brand and serial number against a published recall list to make sure it’s safe. This goes double for any item you buy online, or at a yard sale.
You can also have the item inspected to ensure it’s safe before you use it. Safe Kids USA will help you find a car seat check-up event, or an inspection station through the tool on their website.
If you’re the one with a used car seat, stroller, or other item for which you no longer have any use, and you don’t feel right about selling it or giving it away, please don’t throw it away. Items like this take up a lot of space in landfills, and can take years to decompose. Check to see whether there’s a recycling program in your area that accepts used baby items. You can also have your items inspected for safety, and then donate them to charities such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army.