What NOT to Buy at Garage Sales

by Lori Sciame | May 30th, 2011 | Kids' Shopping

It’s a great feeling when you score an awesome deal at a garage sale. Over the years I’ve found antiques, dishes, collectibles, and much more when scouring local sales. Despite my good luck, there are items that I would never purchase from garage sales – car seats and cribs.

The reason is simple – safety. Having worked in the health field for almost 20 years, I have learned that car seats and cribs present special concerns for parents. Curious? If so, read on.

Car Seats

Because car crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 3 – 14, correct use of car seats is of the utmost importance. The following are general guidelines for car safety for children from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

• Select a car seat based on your child’s age, height, and weight.
• Keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as your child fits the seat’s height and weight requirements.

So, how does this information relate to garage sales? Well, many times new parents will think they are getting a great deal on a car seat at a garage sale, but the opposite may be true. First, the seat purchased may not fit his or her child properly. Also, many times directions on how to install the car seat are missing. These are needed to make sure the seat is secured in such a way as to be effective during a crash. Finally, car seats are regularly recalled by manufacturers. For these reasons, it is best to purchase a car seat new, and to have it properly installed by a certified car seat safety technician. (Your local health department and/or fire department can many times assist with helping you find a technician).


A recent report from FOX News claims 10,000 children are injured in crib/playpen accidents per year. Scary, right!?

When you put your baby down for a nap or for the night, you want to make sure that the crib he or she sleeps in is safe. There are many potential hazards in cribs, from toxic paint to faulty side mechanisms. Especially deadly can be the amount of space between the slats on the side. You might not know it, but many children have died in cribs that did not meet safety standards.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission states that there should be no missing or broken screws or brackets on the crib, the crib slats should have no more than 2 3/8 inches between them (about the size of a soda can), there should be no corner posts where a baby’s clothing could catch, and there should not be any cutouts in the head board. In addition, the mattress needs to fit well with no gaps.

Your baby is precious. That is why I would never recommend purchasing a crib from a garage sale. You want one that is new and that meets all current safety standards.

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