Q: Shopping for a new baby has been expensive and overwhelming. Recently, I started shopping at consignment shops and yard sales. Are there any safety concerns about buying secondhand baby items?
A: Anyone who has had a baby can appreciate how expensive and wasteful shopping for baby feels at times. Many items are expensive, bulky and only age-appropriate for a few months. Buying used baby items saves money and is environmentally friendly. However, there are hidden dangers of using “hand-me downs” that parents should know.
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First, certain items are not recommended for secondhand use. For example, most breast pumps are only approved for a single user because of the risk of exposure to certain diseases through breast milk.
Car seats are made of plastic that can lose its integrity over time. For this reason, car seats have an expiration date. Also, car seats should not be used if they have been involved in a serious car accident. Before buying a used car seat, it is important to check the expiration date and to confirm it has not been involved in any car accidents.
Finally, before buying any used baby items, it is essential to check for safety recalls. Using recalled baby items places your baby in unnecessary danger. A startling example of this is the “Nap Nanny.” This item was recalled in 2010 and retooled. Then the updated version was pulled from shelves in 2012. Despite the recall, an infant death from the Nap Nanny was reported as recently as May 2014.
A list of recalls by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission can be found at cpsc.gov/en/Recalls.
So yes, consignment and yard sale shopping for babies is a great option, but make sure you do your homework before you buy.