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Garage Sale Don’ts: Avoid Using These Baby Products Secondhand

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Jessica Najarian-Bell,MD

If you or someone you know is expecting a baby soon, it may be tempting to load up on secondhand baby products this garage sale season. While scoring discounts and deals may seem attractive, there are safety concerns to keep in mind.

What to watch out for:

  • Make sure the items are not part of a current or former product safety recall. Parents and caregivers can look up product recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also lists recalls on its website.
  • Check for expiration dates. There are end dates on baby items, including car seats which typically last six years. Look and see if the item has a model number. That will be helpful during your recall check. Infant swings typically last two to five years but do not have set expiration dates.
  • Infant swings and gliders should be sturdy. The cradle part of the device should remain flat when in motion. Any toys attached to the unit should not be easy to remove. The device should not advertise or promote use for sleeping.
  • Follow the federal recommendations for safe sleep. Sleep is the primary thing parents lack in those early days — and manufacturers and product marketers know this. Be hesitant to buy products that appear to promote infant sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against using infant swings, bouncy seats and car seats for sleep due to risks of injury and suffocation.

Products to avoid using second-hand:

  • Car seats: If a car seat has been in an accident, it is unsafe. Expired car seats are also not safe to use — even if they look new and well-kept.
  • Cribs: Not all cribs are up to date with safety guidelines and standards and might even be missing parts.
  • Crib mattresses: Mattresses may develop indents and become softer over time. This puts an infant at risk for suffocation.
  • Breast pumps: Used pumps can hold infectious particles that may cause you or your baby to become ill.

Baby gear that may be OK to buy second-hand:

  • Highchairs: Make sure all the original features are still present and the chair is from after June 2019 when new safety standards went into effect.
  • Strollers: Do not buy a stroller made before 2015 — when safety standards improved. Always inspect a used stroller for damage and look up safety recalls.
  • Pack-n-plays: Avoid pack-n-plays made before February 2013, as they do not meet current safety standards. Assess the product for any damage and look up any product safety recalls.
  • Baby clothes: Make sure nothing is unraveling and all buttons and clasps are secure and intact.
  • Toys: Evaluate for any damage or chipped paint. If you are not sure if the item has lead paint, check to see if it is part of a recall.

Sometimes unsafe secondhand products can be disguised as a good deal. If you are not sure about an item, avoid spending your money on it. If you have questions about baby products and infant safety, contact your obstetrician or your child’s primary care provider.