When parents try to cut corners, the first thing they do is look for things that they can get second hand or things that they can use again – it’s common and there is nothing wrong with it. However, while secondhand clothing or secondhand toys aren’t all that bad, an old car seat is not the way you want to go. If you buy it secondhand or use someone else’s, you never know what that car seat has been through – was it well taken care of? How often did someone clean it? What is the expiration date? Even if the car seat is yours, sitting in storage can take a toll on it.
If you are going to use an old car seat, you have to know if it has ever been in a crash – whether it was being used or not. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t any visible damage, a crash creates a lot of torque, pulling, and warping that the car seat may not have been tested in, and it could reduce the ability to protect the child.
You have to know if this is the case. Are you willing to put your child’s safety at risk just so that you can save a few bucks? For someone who wants to sell the car seat at a flea market or a yard sale, a little lie isn’t going to harm them. While most people won’t do that, you never know.
Another thing you absolutely need to pay attention is the expiration date. Know where to find them, how to read them, and why they are important. Car seat components change all the time, and an older car seat may not meet safety standards. The best way to know is to get the owner’s manual for that secondhand car seat and do your own research. Sometimes it is fine, but once again, is the risk worth it?
Then you have to think about the cleanliness of the car seat. Babies get sick in the car, that’s just a fact of life. Was the car seat cleaned properly? Can you make a new cover for it? Even if you can, were the pads and bumpers cleaned? If the seat was put into storage, there was probably a ton of bacteria lurking and growing as it sat – and your child will have his or her hands, mouth, and face all over it.
At the end of the day, you have to know and trust the person you get a secondhand car seat from – even if it is yourself. You have to be honest about how you took care of the seat in the past. It doesn’t make sense to put your child in danger just so you can save a few dollars. Instead, you might want to cut costs in other ways. Do your research, look for sales, take advantage of your baby shower and crowdfunding, and think about the longevity of the car seat system you will use.
It is even more important to note that when you dispose of your car seat, you should destroy it so that no one else can put their children in danger.
For related information, check our car seat buying guide.