Car seats can be extremely pricey, but they are absolutely essential for every parent to have. Buying a secondhand car seat, or receiving one as a gift from a relative whose children have outgrown them, is a great way to save on the cost, but is important to keep car seat safety in front of mind at all times.
Claire Cobbledick, Marketing Head of Gumtree South Africa and mom of two boys, says that extra care should be taken when buying or using a secondhand car seat. “Whether you have bought it online or are dusting off an older sibling’s used seat, you have to be mindful of certain safety measures. There is no reason not to buy car seats for less, but they have meet certain guidelines.”
Ask the right questions
“When buying an used car seat or receiving one as a gift, you have to ask a few questions before finalizing the purchase. Have you ever been in an accident where the car seat had been strapped in? Are there any missing parts? Where was your car mostly parked? (If a car is parked in the sun rather than under cover, the plastic on the seat can become brittle). How old is the seat? These are all things you have to know before deciding to use the seat,” says Cobbledick.
Obtain the instruction manual
“Most of us throw the instruction manual away when we buy a new item, but you need this to install the seat correctly. Don’t despair though – you should be able to download a copy from the manufacturer’s website. Be sure to check and see if you can find it before you commit.”
Don’t buy seats that are too old
“It’s important to stick to seats that are ideally less than five years old, and definitely less than ten years old. Safety measures improve all the time and some seats may actually have been recalled. Sometimes you will find expiration dates stamped on the seats. Do your research to determine if a seat has been recalled.
Buy age-appropriate seats
“Your seat requirements will change as your kids age. Make sure that your child is seated in a rear-seating seat until the age of 2. Your child should ride in a safety seat until his or her shoulders no longer fit under the straps. The seat has to be correct for the child’s height and weight. From about age 4 or younger they should use booster seats, and at age 8 they can graduate to the back seat without using a booster.”
Buy seats that are easy to clean
“Kids are messy – and if you are buying a secondhand seat, it’s good to buy one that is easy to clean. Give your car seat a good scrub before use – baking soda is great for getting rid of old juice stains.”
Don’t compromise on the car seat
“Refuse to start the car until all the passengers are wearing seat belts or strapped in their seats. Kids have to get used to the rules early on, and there shouldn’t be any compromising.”