Garage sales and online swap sites are great ways to stretch your dollar when it comes to keeping your kids clothed and entertained, but it’s important to keep some basic safety tips in mind.
Google the item to make sure it hasn’t been recalled. People often don’t have a clue that their favorite baby gear from 5 years ago has been recalled. They’re so excited to sell it for a good price—never realizing that they’re putting someone’s child in danger! It’s always worth taking that extra minute to Google. I frequently see recalled bath seats, drop-side cribs, and Rock N Plays in my local groups. Following the Consumer Product Safety Commission online will help keep you in the loop for future recalls as well.
Beware lead. 3M makes swabs that change color when lead is detected, so you can test older toys and other items (I was horrified to find out that hardback book covers can have lead in them!). I’m constantly seeing toys that were recalled for containing lead on Facebook Marketplace, and since Facebook doesn’t allow you to flag an unsafe item, there’s nothing users can do about it. Check for other heavy metals like cadmium as well—often found in old Legos.
Check seams on load-bearing items like jumpers and baby carriers. Like we talked about in a previous post, thread and cloth don’t last forever. A thorough examination and a few questions to the previous owner will go a long way.
Is the price fair? Many times, a used item is listed for just a little under the retail price… but lots of times older models or discontinued items will have lower prices directly from the manufacturer than you’ll get secondhand, where sellers are pricing based on what they paid years ago, when that version was new.
- Trade in a safe place. If you’re using a swap site like Marketplace or Craigslist, be sure to meet in a public place with plenty of people nearby. Many police stations now have a spot set up for swapping that’s monitored by a video camera.
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