Be frugal and safe
Wow how things change! Twenty one years ago when I brought Kaitlyn home from the hospital this car seat was safe, no longer would we use this seat, or the fluffy bunting in the car seat.
In these tough economic times, many of us are looking for ways to stretch our budget. Baby equipment is expensive. Often we are able to find used baby items at garage sales, consignment shops, and from friends and family. Most of these items are perfectly fine to use for our children. However, there are a few items that are better to purchase new for your child.
Since June 2011 all cribs must meet the new federal safety standards. Drop side cribs can no longer be sold. The new standards require stronger crib slats, mattress supports and improvement in the quality of crib hardware. By December 2012 all child care centers and any other establishment that has infant cribs must comply with the new standards. Even if an older crib looks safe, it is not. Unless a crib has been manufactured after June 2011, your best option is not to purchase it. Save money on other items and buy a new crib for your baby.
Did you know that car seats have an expiration date? Usually you can find a date stamped on the plastic of the seat or printed on a label. The expiration date is 6 years from the manufacture date, not the purchase date. Seats that are kept longer than this can begin to have weakening of the plastic because of repeated stress and the heating in the summer and cooling in the winter. Straps also can weaken.
No car seat should be used after it has been involved in a car accident. Again the stress from the accident can compromise the strength of the seat. You will not be able to tell if a car seat has been involved in an accident from just looking at it.
Another word of caution…if purchasing a car seat from an outlet or overstock website, be sure and check the manufacture date. Often these car seats have sat on a shelf for a long period of time and the 6 year expiration date may be sooner than you expect.
The best advice is to buy a new car seat, or buy or borrow one from a trusted person you know that can assure you that the seat has never been in a crash. Look for the expiration date or manufacture date on the car seat before using. Remember that the car seat is only good for 6 years from the date of manufacture, so those seats that are advertised to grow with your child until a weight of 70 or 80 pounds may have expired by the time your child is that size. Also don’t spend extra money on a car seat with all the “bells and whistles” thinking that it will be used for multiple children, as it too will expire at the 6 year mark.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that baby walkers are unsafe and should not be purchased new or used. Walkers actually will delay your little one’s walking, and can result in serious injury if your child uses one. Stay away from walkers which have wheels, but it is perfectly fine to purchase or borrow a used exersaucer if it is in good repair. Exersaucers or activity seats have no wheels.
In 2007 safety standards for strollers were updated. Check the date of manufacture before you puchase or use a used stroller. If manufactured after 2007, check to be sure that the strap restraints are secure and working, all screws, bolts, and fasteners are present and secure, and the stroller is in working order.
Play yards or play pens
Used play yards or play pens have a long history of safety hazards. Standards were updated in 2000, so no play pen or play yard manufactured before that date should be used or purchased. If manufactured after that date, be sure that there are no openings in the mesh sides larger than 1/4 inch, that all screws, bolts and fasteners are present and secure, and the mattress was purchased with the play yard or play pen and fits securely against the sides.
When you are considering buying or using anything that is not new, check the Consumer Product Safety Comission website at www.cpsc.gov All recalls and safety notices for baby equipment, toys, clothing or any other item will be posted here. You can also sign up for recall e-mails to be sent to you automatically when an item is recalled.
There are many ways that we as parents can be frugal when raising our children. There are some items that are just not worth the risk. Pinch pennies somewhere else and then spend those pennies saved on items that provide the greatest safety for your child.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.