Items designed to protect you from harm should not be purchased used. When you buy a used car seat at a garage sale, you expose your child to a number of risks, says Mayra Rosado, MD, a pediatrician with HealthCare Partners, Los Angeles, Calif. “They could be missing important parts or parts may be old and break easily during a crash. In addition, they may not be up to par with current safety standards and may have been recalled and you’re not aware.” Lastly, used seats typically do not come with manufacturer’s instructions, which are extremely important for proper installation, says Rosado.
Multiple crib recalls and changing safety standards make it hard to verify the safety of used cribs, says Rosado. In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned drop-side cribs from the market after more than 30 infant and toddler deaths from suffocation and strangulation and hundreds of incidents that were caused by or related to the drop-side detaching from the crib. The latest rules also include more rigorous durability testing, improved warnings and labeling, and better mattress support, slat strength, and structural integrity. “Even a crib you used for one of your older children may not meet the latest safety standards,” says Rosado. “And, for sanitary reasons, avoid reusing crib mattresses.”
Glass baby bottles purchased at a garage sale are safe to use, says Rosado, but plastic is another story. “You may not know if it’s BPA free plastic.” Bisphenol A (BPA) is the main component in polycarbonate plastic and can be found in the resin lining of most food and beverage cans. As a hormone-mimicking compound, BPA is suspected of causing reproductive health problems and other issues, such as behavioral abnormalities. “If a bottle is cracked, scratched or damaged, the BPA can leak into the milk when making up a formula feed,” says Rosado.