Children are expensive, and babies can be particularly expensive. Diapers alone run hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars a year, and babies grow so fast that they switch sizes a half dozen or more times before they are 18 months old. Given this, it’s no surprise that people look to save a few dollars when buying baby clothes and furniture at secondhand stores and yard sales.
Shopping at yard sales, however, can be dangerous. Second hand furniture stores are more likely to be aware of which products might have been recalled or which models of crib and bassinette had safety defects. A person running a yard sale might not know these things, and many people won’t bother to research the products before they put them out for sale.
Some items are more dangerous to purchase secondhand than others. Most problems with clothes can be fixed with a good washing, though it’s important to ask if the items are from a smoke-free home, and make sure the zippers are not too worn. Shoes especially are a great buy, as they are often lightly used. Most toys can be successfully disinfected, though you should pay attention to chipped paint or other safety hazards.
There are some items that should never be purchased second hand, chief among them cribs. Older cribs were frequently drop side cribs, which have been shown to be strongly correlated with crib death. Only very new cribs are up to modern safety standards. Car seats are also a definite no. Some items require a little inspection to determine whether they are safe before making a purchase. When spending your day at yard sales, look for:
- Playpens made after the year 2000, as the safety guidelines were updated.
- Strollers made after the year 2007, as the safety guidelines were updated.
- Rocking chairs should be tested to make sure they rock safely.
- High chairs are generally okay as long as the high chairs have a five point harness.
- Used changing tables and other basic baby furniture are usually okay. Just make sure they are suitably sturdy.
Even following these guidelines, it is possible to end up with an unsafe item, and unsafe items can lead to injury to you or your child. This can be true if the seller was untruthful about when the item was made or other known problems. If you suspect you were misled into purchasing a dangerous product, contact a lawyer with the expertise necessary to make sure that others have not suffered a similar misfortune.