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Keeping baby safe is a year-round responsibility, but each September the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) gives it extra attention by celebrating Baby Safety Month. This year, JPMA is helping educate parents and caregivers on the importance of choosing second-hand, hand-me-down, and heirloom baby gear with safety in mind.
Giving previously used gear a second life is a good alternative to buying new for a lot of reasons. But it's important to follow a few basic rules so you're sure not to compromise safety for price or nostalgia.
Used baby items to pass up:
- Never buy a used car seat. There's no way to guarantee its history — even if it's from a relative who claims it was never in an accident.
- Take a pass on used cribs. Safety standards have changed significantly over the last few years.
- Crib mattresses and breast pump parts should also be purchased new.
Items it's ok to buy or acquire used:
- Baby clothes. Just avoid anything with drawstrings, check that all buttons, zippers, and clasps are secure, and make sure nothing is unraveling.
- Cloth diapers
- Toys. Like new is best, but if you're passing down "heirlooms" check for chipped paint or loose pieces (super important on toys that might contain lead paint). If it's chipped or broken, don't use it!
- Shoes. Babies grow out of these quickly, so if you want to dress your baby up in a cute pair, opt for a used rather than investing in a pair that will be worn only a few times.
- Baby books
- Playpens. First find out if it was made after 2000 (the last safety updates were issued in 1999). Make sure the original mattress is snug, there are no dangling cords, the mesh has no tears and that holes are smaller than 1/4 inch.
- Baby Furniture. Look for gently used baby furniture such as changing tables or rocking chairs. Make sure it meets safety standards, hasn't been recalled and doesn't have any peeling paint, chips or missing parts.
- Strollers. Strollers made after 2007 are ok to reuse. Avoid any with broken, loose or missing parts. "Test drive" the stroller to make sure it has a smooth ride and is sturdy.
- Baby bath tubs. Fine to buy used as long as they aren't moldy and don't smell of mildew. Avoid bath seats, bath rings or inflatable tubs that fit in the bathtub as they can be dangerous.
- High chairs. Avoid those with removable trays or arms that lift over the baby's head. Voluntary safety standards require that a high chair have a five-point harness to prevent a child from climbing out and a fixed-post crotch post so he can't slide out.
If you find a great deal somewhere, check to see if it's been recalled recently recalled baby products before you buy it. There are recalls all the time — some for what appear to be minor issues, but others that have caused children serious harm.