Is there anything better than a hand-me-down? Not only economical, often saving families hundreds of dollars, but they are good for the environment, making use of items again and again.
When accepting a hand-me-down, whether it's gear or clothing, it's important to make sure it is safe. In its March 2009 issue, ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports is offering tips for evaluating used children's products. Of interest to parents of preschoolers from the article:
- Car Seats:
Safe: A car seat that has all its original parts and labels, has never been in a crash, and fits your car and child is OK.
Not Safe: Products more than six years old are outdated, and most likely too run down to be considered safe.
Safe: Stuffed animals and most children’s books make fine hand-me-downs. In the case of lead contamination in used toys, there are many home lead inspection kits which can be purchased for under twenty dollars which will tell you whether the toys are safe.
Unsafe: Avoid any toys that are chipped, as well as any small parts that can fit through a tube of toilet paper, since they present serious choking hazards for small children.
- Used Clothing:
Safe: As long as buttons and snaps are on tight and none of the thread is unraveling from the fabric, the used clothing is fine.
Unsafe: Pass on any article of clothing with drawstrings because they pose a strangulation hazard.
Whether you are accepting a used item from someone else or shopping at a thrift or secondhand store, safety, not price, should be your first priority. It's always a good idea to check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website to see if an item has been recalled and to do your own common-sense spot check: Is the made poorly? Is it a choking hazard? Is it age-appropriate? According to the CPSC, items that tend to have a higher recall rate include cribs, play yards, jewelry, dolls with buttons and painted toys.
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