Garage sales are great for used baby items. But before you buy—or sell—a car seat, high chair, or baby food, make sure you understand the potential complications. Because whether you’re the buyer or the seller at a garage sale, some baby items should be off limits.
“Child safety starts with what we expose our children too, including the food and products we bring home to them,” says Sarah Brown of SafeWise. So be careful while looking for bargains or offloading clutter, lest you run afoul of that basic rule.
If the baby food is still in its sealed jar and the expiration date has not expired, it’s probably safe to buy. However, you should be aware that baby foods are not as tightly regulated as you might think—be careful about investing too much trust in that date. “The FDA does not keep track of expiration dates on any baby foods other than formula,” says Brown. “Expiration dates are merely suggestions added on by food manufacturers, but they aren’t required by the FDA.”
Rules about expiration dates and product liability vary from state to state. “For example, in 2006, the highest court in New York allowed the sales of expired items, including baby formula, as long as the retailer did not change or obscure the expiration date,” says Raphael Katz, an attorney at Sadowski Katz LLP in New York.
“The majority of high chair injuries happen because children are not properly restrained and they fall out,” says Brown. Newer models, generally, are safer than older ones, thanks in part to consumer watchdogs.
“Look for a wide base for sturdiness, a secure crotch strap to prevent the child from slipping, and a model that is freestanding and doesn’t attach to the table,” she says. “And always check for recalls and make sure that it’s certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.”
“While we cannot recommend buying a used car seat because it is almost impossible to completely verify the seat’s history, we recognize that some parents will opt to do so,” says Morris Lilienthal of Martinson & Beason. Parents should make sure the car seat has not been recalled and is not past its expiration date by researching the car seat at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Savings at what cost?
“Currently, there are no legal implications for selling a secondhand baby seat or similar product at a garage sale,” says Max Robinson of retailer Precious Little One. “The responsibility, therefore, falls on the buyer, who needs to consider the safety of the child rather than the savings in cost.”