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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Nitty Gritty About Second hand Car Seats


Having a baby is expensive, we can all agree on that. Second hand high chairs, toddler beds and clothing come in very handy. The one item that I strongly recommend buying new is a car safety seat. New car seats come with registration cards. As soon as you buy your car seat, be sure to send in the card to register it. Then the manufacturer can let you know by mail if your child's safety seat has been recalled.

If for some reason you must use a second hand car seat, here are some guidelines to follow:

Avoid used seats if you don't know the seat's history

Never use a car seat that:

  • Is too old- Look on the label for the date it was made. Check with the manufacturer to find out how long they recommend using the seat.
  • Have any visible cracks on it
  • Does not have a label with the date of manufacture and model number -
  • Without these, you cannot check to see if the seat has been recalled.

  • Does not come with instructions - You need them to know how to use the seat.
  • Is missing parts - Used car safety seats often come without important parts. Check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the right parts.

Do not use seats that have been in a moderate or severe crash

Seats that were in a minor crash may still be safe to use. The NHTSA considers a crash minor if all of the following are true:
    • The vehicle could be driven away from the crash.
    • The vehicle door closest to the car safety seat was not damaged.
    • No one in the vehicle was injured.
    • The air bags did not go off.
    • You can't see any damage to the car safety seat.

If you cannot verify all of the above, the car seat is considered unsafe for use, even if it appears to be in good condition. Unless a used car seat is coming from a close friend or family member and meets the above criteria, it is almost always safer to choose a new car seat for your baby.

Courtney Ilarraza is a Brooklyn native and former Park Slope resident. Courtney and her husband Fred, started Baby Bodyguards,www.babybodyguards.com, a child safety company, dedicated to creating a safe environment for children ,without stifling their natural curiosity and while giving parents the peace of mind they deserve. Baby Bodyguards provides in-home safety evaluations, child proofing services and car seat installation classes/checks. The company was started after the birth of their son and after hearing of a string of preventable injuries that happened to children they knew.