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Buyer Beware: secondhand baby gear items may not be safe

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Buyer Beware: Secondhand Baby Gear Items May Not Be Safe

 

‘Tis the season for yard sales, and it’s ALWAYS the season for secondhand buys on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace! Let’s face it, raising kiddos is an expensive business and it is really great to be able to score used baby items for often WAY less money than in a retail store :)

 

However, buyers beware: there are several things parents need to know before buying used baby gear. There are some products that have actually been prohibited in Canada because children have been injured or killed using them, and these products occasionally pop up in yard sales. There are a few products which the Canadian government strictly regulates, to help make sure kids are as safe as possible. Some items have been recalled for defects, and others products have a specific safety shelf-life (and beyond that life, should be thrown away). Here are the top things to be on the look out for in each of these categories:

 

Prohibited (banned) baby products 

 
Baby walkers

Baby walkers look a bit like exersaucers but with one dangerous difference: they have wheels on the bottom. Children have been seriously injured and killed in baby walkers, either from falls down flights of stairs or from having increased access to hot surfaces, liquids and electrical cords. Baby walkers have been prohibited in Canada since April 7, 2004. It is illegal to import, advertise for sale, or sell baby walkers in Canada. It is also illegal to sell baby walkers at garage sales, flea markets, or online; loan or give one away to a friend. If you have one, destroy it so it cannot be used again and throw it away.

 
Infant Self-Feeding Devices

Infant self-feeding devices are structural devices to hold feeding bottles, allowing babies to feed themselves while unattended. When feeding, babies normally regurgitate small amounts and if left unattended, there is a serious risk of illness or death from choking or from food entering the lungs. These are still often found on reputable retail websites through third party vendors. The one is this picture was confiscated at Canadian customs.

 
Drop-side cribs

As of Dec. 29, 2016, it is prohibited in Canada to sell, import, manufacture or advertise drop-side cribs. Since 2000, there were over 30 infant deaths from suffocation and falls in North America, and thousands of other injuries associated with the detaching drop side rails on these cribs. For more info on how to choose a safe crib for your child, see the next section.

 

Regulated baby products

The following is a partial list of consumer baby products that must meet Canadian regulatory requirements. It is illegal to import, sell or advertise these products in Canada if they do not meet all the requirements. 

 
Car Seats

Always look for the National Safety Mark when you purchase a car seat or booster seat.  This mark means that the car seat meets Canadian safety standards and is legal to use in Canada.

 

When choosing an online retailer, choose a trusted Canadian store and make sure that the seat you are buying is being sold directly from the retailer. Be aware that third-party vendors have been known to offer seats that are not legal for use in Canada.  

 

It is not recommended to buy a used car seat or booster seat from someone you don’t know or trust.  If you do not know the history of the seat, it may no longer be safe to use. 

 

Is your car seat safe to use?  Find a helpful checklist here.

 

Click here for more information on keeping your child safe in the car.

 

Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets

Cribs, cradles and bassinets sold in Canada must meet current safety regulations. This includes items sold at second-hand stores and online second-hand retailers. If you’re buying a crib, check when it was made. Cribs made before September 1986 don’t meet current safety regulations and should not be used. As of December 29, 2016, the sale, importation, manufacture or advertisement of traditional drop-side cribs is prohibited.

 

When buying a crib, cradle or bassinet, look for:

  • a product label (model name or number)
  • instructions on proper use
  • the date of manufacture
  • posts that are not higher than 1.5 mm (1/16 in)
  • bars that are spaced 6 cm (2 3/8 in) or less
  • a tight-fitting mattress with up to 3 cm (1 3/16 in) between the sides and the mattress
  • a mattress with the right thickness
    • for crib mattresses, 15 cm (6 in) thick and under
    • for cradle and bassinet mattresses, 3.8 cm (1 1/2 in) thick and under

If you’ve had a crib, cradle or bassinet for a while, you will need to:

  • replace the mattress if it’s worn out or too soft
  • check that all wood and metal parts:
    • are free of splinters or burrs and other defects
    • have a smooth finish and no sharp edges and points
    • have no loose nuts or bolts
  • destroy it if it’s damaged or has missing parts

Click here for more information on safe sleep for your child.

 
Baby gates

Baby gates must have the following information on them to be legal for use:

  • name of the manufacturer
  • model name or number
  • date of manufacture
  • warning statements in English and french about the intended use, age limits and installation requirements

Important: the openings on the gate must be small enough to prevent a child from placing their head through the holes. Every exposed wooden, metal or plastic part must be smoothly finished and free of splinters, burrs, cracks and other defects.  Accordion style gates do NOT meet these requirements and should be destroyed and thrown away. 

 
Playpens

It is very important to make sure a playpen is assembled correctly before using it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely, as well as the playpen’s weight and age restrictions. All playpens must have a label citing the manufacturer, model and date of manufacture.

 

Click here for more information on keeping your child safe in a playpen.

 

 
Strollers

Note: Carriages and strollers made before 1985 may not be up to current safety standards and should not be bought or sold.

Strollers must have the following information on them to be legal for use:

  • name of the manufacturer
  • model name or number
  • date of manufacture
  • warning statements in English and french about the intended use, age limits and installation requirements

Child Safety Link recommends the following tips to help ensure you choose a safe stroller for your child:

  • Pick a sturdy model and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for child height and weight.
  • Whether a carriage or stroller is new or used, only choose one that comes with a label and instructions.
  • Choose only a stroller that comes with a safety belt or lap harness that is solidly attached to the frame.
  • Ensure the brakes and locking mechanisms on folding models are in working order.
  • Make sure the wheels are securely attached.

Click here for more info on stroller safety.

 

Recalled baby products

Before buying any baby gear secondhand, it is best to do a quick check to see if that product has been recalled. Visit Health Canada’s website here to search the name of what you want to buy.

You will find recalls for car seats or booster seats on Transport Canada’s s website here .

 

Expiration dates on baby products

Some baby products have expiry dates, and you should check for these when buying a secondhand item. These include:

  • car seats and booster seats
  • sport helmets

It is not recommended that you buy either of these items secondhand unless you know the history of the item. A car seat that has been in a crash or a bike helmet that has had a previous impact, may not protect your child in the way it was intended to. Also, some materials break down and weaken over time, and may not protect your child in the event of a collision.

 

So, what should you do if you have a dangerous baby product?

If, from reading the info above, you realize that you have a baby item that could pose a safety risk to a child, the best thing to do is to destroy it and throw out the pieces. Never place such items at the curb for garbage pick up unless you intentionally destroy them first-they could be picked up and used by someone else, not knowing of the danger.

You can find more information on prohibited or regulated baby products for your child at this link.