Q&A: Is it safe to get baby products from a swap meet?

Consumer Reports News: July 21, 2009 02:30 PM


Q: Because of the economy, swap meets such as www.swapbabygoods.com, where parents swap new and used baby products for free or at a reduced price, are becoming more popular. Any danger to getting baby products from a swap meet?

Yes. For one thing, you have to be careful about buying defective baby products. Dozens of baby and children’s products are recalled each year because of violations of safety standards established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Before shopping for new or used baby products at swap meets (online or in-person), tag sales, or even at a conventional store or Web site, consult monthly issues of Consumer Reports or visit the CPSC’s Web site for updated recall information on infant products. Or sign up for free e-mail notices of future recalls at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. This advice also applies to toys and other baby stuff friends and relatives just give you. It’s up to retailers to take recalled products off store shelves, but items can fall through the cracks. With the secondary and hand-me-down market, you’re especially on your own as a consumer, so check and double-check for recalls before you shop for your baby or accept used products.

It’s also safer to buy some baby items new, not used, whether you get them from a swap meet or another outlet. We don’t recommend, for example, buying a used crib, car seat, breast pump, soft infant carrier, or play yard. (See Don't buy these baby products used.) Besides the recall issue, when you buy these products used, the manual may be missing so you don’t have the directions on how to install, adjust or otherwise use the product safely. The item may be damaged or the product may not meet the latest safety standards, which are updated frequently.

Bottom line: Always make safety your top priority, whether you’re getting baby gear for free or paying top dollar.

For more valuable information, see the latest edition of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products in our online bookstore and in bookstores nationwide.

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