By Wendy Powell
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Let’s talk about safety. September is National Baby Safety Month. One significant aspect of safety is the products you choose. There is a lot of conflicting information to sort through. Some folks are pretty adamant about not choosing secondhand goods due to safety concerns. Is that legitimate, or is there a way to both be good stewards of the environment AND buy safe products? Yes, of course but it is important to educate yourself and choose reputable resellers to keep your kids safe.
Safety Measures at Childish Things
In the 13 years that our children’s resale store, Childish Things, has been in business, we have seen plenty of changes. Between an increase in new products on the market purchased directly from a manufacturer and the ease of selling products peer-to-peer through online platforms, we have observed an increase in the number of unsafe products brought into our store for sale, despite increases in government regulation.
Safety is integral to our business at Childish Things. We stay up-to-date with product recalls, but we also listen to the buzz, using sites like saferproducts.gov where consumers can directly report their experience with a product. We identify trends this way and proactively flag unsafe products before they’re officially recalled. There are many products out there with hundreds of safety complaints that still aren’t recalled. You won’t find those at our store.
We also follow guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, particularly when it comes to sleeping products. We made the decision to stop selling the Fisher Price Rock ‘N Play more than a year before it was recalled by the manufacturer. By carefully tracking the latest information and participating in industry association memberships, we can network, track, and keep up with which products are raising red flags.
At our store, we receive and review many pieces of unbranded clothing from online retailers which we decline to buy. Dealing with thousands of pieces of clothing every day, our staff is trained to identify safety hazards and structural weaknesses in garments. Quite often, snaps are below safety standards, or we come across hazards like baby clothing with drawstrings! We also pass on unbranded toys we receive. Truthfully, we probably go overboard on what we deem “not safe enough” to put on our shelves, but we do so because we know our customers depend on us to provide safe products for their children.
Risks of Thrifted and Gifted Products
A quick search on digital marketplaces where users can arrange to buy, sell, or trade items with other people in their area shows numerous items, that have been previously recalled, for sale. Selling a recalled product is illegal and with this in mind, our team at Childish Things worked with Kids in Danger in an effort to add a report button for recalls on a very popular digital marketplace platform. Unfortunately, at this time, there is still no way to report a recalled product being sold in online forums.
Even with safe products, user error can be a risk. Did you get a carrier from a friend? Did you receive instructions with the item? Far too often, we see parents putting babies in danger, such as by placing an infant in a baby carrier that they haven’t fully learned how to use yet. To help with this, our staff aims to educate customers on the safety features of our wide selection of baby gates, baby carriers, and toys.
What Can Parents Do?
Shopping at a reputable shop isn’t going to be the only place families will buy new or gently-used baby products. How can parents get — and stay — educated?
- Visit the site for United States Consumer Product Safety Recalls and subscribe to news releases and recall notices on children’s products, sports equipment, outdoor items, and household products.
- Saferproducts.gov is another great resource and is a site that utilizes unverified user-submitted reports, but can be useful in spotting trends or to report a safety issue you have experienced with a product.
- Kids in Danger sends out a monthly recall digest and lobbies for better safety regulations.
READ THE MANUAL
This is particularly important for baby carriers. There are many videos on YouTube and manufacturer websites that parents can access to learn to use the carrier properly. It matters. Read the warning labels. I know, I know… but don’t buy a product without a warning label and always read them. You might be surprised at what you learn.
CHECK BY HAND
Whether buying a product, receiving one as a gift, or gifting a product to someone else, make sure you know that product is safe. Check recalls. Look over the item carefully.
Here are some of the areas that our staff at Childish Things specifically check for:
- Snaps: Are they still sewn strongly into the garment?
- Shoes: Is the tread still intact on shoes so a child doesn’t slip?
- Pajamas: Are cotton pajamas snug-fitting?
- Buttons: Are they secure, particularly on infant clothing?
- Strings: Are there drawstrings or other strings? This is particularly important to look at in clothing for babies and toddlers.
- Toys: Are they solid, with no edges tearing off on soft books or other loose pieces? Are wheels securely attached?
- Batteries: Check the battery compartment to ensure batteries are not leaking.
Child safety can feel like a lot to think about, but referencing some reliable and timely resources can help keep risky products out of your home and away from your children. If you have any questions, stop by the Childish Things store for a chat!