Family & Relationships

3 Product Safety Tips to Protect Your Baby

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Taking on the role of being a new parent also means you’ll serve as a “safety manager” of sorts for your child. A large part of those duties will involve making sure all the baby products you purchase — like the crib, car seat and stroller — are safe for your child. We can help you know what to look for with these three tips:

1. First, keep an eye out for recalls.

Each year, hundreds of products are recalled by manufacturers, and that includes items for babies, toddlers and children such as safety products, toys, furniture and grocery items. Staying on top of all the notices can be overwhelming, if not impossible. Make it easy on yourself and sign up to receive recall notices by email through safekids.org. You’ll receive a list of monthly child-related recalls collected from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The site also provides news and consumer concerns about children's products.

Another way to keep on top of recalls is to register your product (especially your car seat) online or with the printed card usually included within the timeframe indicated. That way the company has your contact information and specific model and serial number and can reach you for recalls or safety alerts.

2. Understand your car seat has an expiration date.

As a new parent, you’ll be on high alert for expiration dates on things like formula, milk and meat, but did you know your car seat comes with an expiration date too? Car seats generally are considered expired within six years of being manufactured, and there are a few good reasons why:

  • Car seats get worn down over time by use and environmental conditions.
  • With technological advances and product updates, there’s a chance your seat no longer meets safety requirements.
  • Replacement parts may no longer be available for that product.

Also, as a parent-to-be shopping for car seats, don’t just assume that because they are sitting on a store shelf they’ve been recently manufactured. Check the side or the base of the car seat for an expiration date. If it’s not readily visible, contact the manufacturer.

3. Know when to buy used versus new.

In this world of baby products, you’ll see how the costs quickly add up for things you didn’t even know you needed to have. So while it may be tempting to accept your aunt Debbie’s generous offer of that cute little crib (that’s been out of commission for the last 20 years), it’s important to know what baby products you’re better off buying new versus used. Here are some safety guidelines to consider for common items:

  • Clothes, shoes and accessories: Kids go through clothes and shoes quickly, whether it is from use or just plain growing out of them. You can save a ton of money by shopping for gently used clothing items or graciously accepting hand-me-downs. Just make sure they don’t have drawstrings, loose buttons or broken zippers.
  • Toys: Each year, hundreds of toys show up on recall lists. So whether your child is playing with toys you bought new or at a garage sale (or the toys at daycare) make sure they are clean, still in working order and don’t contain small or hazardous parts.
  • Strollers: Make sure your stroller was made after 2007, as safety standards since then have addressed stability, impact and shoulder-strap safety. Just know there are several types of styles, makes and models to choose from, so consider one that meets your day-to-day needs versus one with a bunch of bells and whistles.
  • Cribs: As of June 2011, new federal safety standards prohibit the manufacture or sale of drop-side rail cribs. The new regulations also require that all new cribs have stronger slats and mattress supports, better quality hardware, and undergo more rigorous testing.
  • Playpens: Before buying a used playpen, there are a few things to check. First, find out if it was made after 2000, as the last safety updates were issued in 1999. Also make sure the mattress is snug and there are no tears in the sides or lining.
  • Car seats: This is the one item where it’s generally recommended you buy a new one versus getting a used one. That’s because the used car seat in question may:

        • Be past its expiration date.

        • Have been in an accident.

        • Have been recalled.

        • Have loose or malfunction parts

Having these safety tips will give you a little more peace of mind as a new parent. See how ARAG legal insurance is another way you can help protect your family.

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