Do you have any advice on shopping for second-hand baby equipment at garage sales?
One of the hottest-selling types of items at garage sales is baby equipment, but what many parents and parents-to-be fail to realize is that it's not always a good idea to purchase used baby equipment. Here's a list of what types of items you should think twice about purchasing secondhand.
Humidifiers, bottle-warmers and other small appliances: It's rarely a good idea to pick up small appliances at garage sales. According to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the problem with purchasing these items secondhand is that you have no idea how old the appliance is, whether it has been used properly or misused and whether it meets current safety standards.
Cribs made before September 1986: The problem with purchasing a secondhand crib is that you may have a hard time determining whether it complies with current safety standards. Only cribs manufactured during or after September of 1986 are considered safe. Even if the crib in question is new enough to conform with safety standards, there's always the possibility that it has been damaged through misuse.
Playpens made before 1976: It's unbelievable how long certain types of baby equipment manage to remain in use, and playpens are a prime example. Even though playpen standards were revised in 1976 to ensure that mesh-sided playpens were made of mosquito-type netting with holes that were small enough to prevent a child from becoming entangled, you'll still find some prehistoric playpens kicking around at garage sales. Unless you're certain that a playpen is reasonably new and that it is in good working order (e.g. it won't collapse while your child is in it), just say no to the bargain.
Baby gates made before 1990: Accordion-style baby gates with diamond-shaped openings and large Vs at the top have been off the market for nearly a decade, but you'll still find them at garage sales. Avoid them at all costs.
Car seats: It's generally a bad idea to purchase a secondhand car seat.
For more information about purchasing secondhand baby equipment in Canada, contact the Infant and Toddler Safety Association, 385 Fairway Road South, Suite 4A-230, Kitchener, Ontario N2C 2N9. (519) 570-0181.