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Birdy Boutique Car Seat Poncho Giveaway

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🚗 It’s the season for car seat ponchos, we’d love to give two away from a small certified disabled veteran business, Birdy Boutique.  Car seat ponchos are the safer way for kids to travel in car seats, and they come in adorable unique patterns that also serve as double sided hooded blankets!

CONTEST ENDED, SORRY!

Winners chosen randomly, USA or Canada only please. Read our review here https://carseatblog.com/47445/

😊 If you’re ready to shop, they are all on sale and have a clippable coupon at Amazon, just in time for gifting someone safety:

Birdy Boutique Car Seat Poncho Store

 

How to Enter Birdy Boutique Car Seat Poncho Giveaway:
  • Leave us a comment below (required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself.

CONTEST ENDED, SORRY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the fine print – winner must have a USA or Canada shipping address to claim the prize. Only two prizes will be awarded. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on December 24, 2019, and two random winners will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. Your comment is not lost; it just goes into a moderated queue where it has to be manually approved by one of us. This may take a few hours depending on our availability. If you are outside of the US or Canada, your comment may be blocked by our system. Thank you for understanding, as this is the only way we have to manage spam comments.

 

Snug and cozy while safely buckled underneath!

Good luck!

Holiday Car Seat Buying Tips: Watch Out for Fakes & Scams!

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Car Seat Purchasing Advice

What is the Best Booster to Buy?  Who has the lowest price on a Britax Marathon?  Is that great deal too good to be true?

The biggest deals of the year are usually in the weeks around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and child safety seats are no exception!

Unfortunately, car seats are also no exception to scams and knockoffs.  Finding out you bought a carseat from a phony store that never delivers is bad enough when you missed out on legitimate bargains, but putting your baby into a lookalike that is untested and non-complaint with federal safety standards could be even worse!

Here are five important tips to getting a good deal on a safe car seat this shopping season:

  1. Buy from reputable stores.  Amazon, Target, Walmart, BuyBuyBaby, Albee Baby or other major online and brick & mortar baby stores have a real presence for customer service in the USA or Canada.  Read our article on spotting fake and scam web stores that advertise on facebook with prices far lower than anyone else.  Haven’t heard of a website even though it has authentic brand logos?  Call the manufacturer or message them on facebook to see if it is an authorized retailer in your country.  Car seats can be expensive to ship back if there is any issue, so ask first if they offer free return shipping or in-store returns.
  2. Even at Amazon and Walmart, be wary of third party sellers.  Many are legitimate, but a few are fake storefronts or sell knockoff products with no possibility of customer service or returns.  For example, the safest buys at Amazon are carseats listed as, “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” with, “FREE Returns.”  If you’ve never heard of a third party reseller, read their reviews and make sure they have contact information including an address and try their phone number to ask about their return policy!
  3. Avoid unknown brands.  Read our report on cheap, portable carseats that are not compliant with government standards.  Car seats that meet government regulations require extensive/expensive design, testing and certification.  These major corporations have customer service staff for questions and warranty issues.  Un-certified, cheap carseats sold directly from overseas do none of this and those shill companies are likely to disappear when their products are found to be defective or illegal.  Brands you trust like Clek, Maxi-Cosi, Graco, Cosco, Chicco, Evenflo and others are major companies with legitimate retail presence online and in stores.
  4. See our guidelines on secondhand car seats.  Read about used or like-new carseats before buying on eBay, Craigslist or other auction sites or resale stores.  A gently used car seat in very good condition handed down from a relative or friend may be fine to use, but one with an unknown history may not be!
  5. Watch for DEALS!  We have a Car Seat Deals Tracker that our experts update manually at least daily during the shopping season.  We notify quickly when the best deals hit, so bookmark our tracker, “like” our facebook page and follow our deals post for the latest sales and coupon codes over Black Friday and Cyber Monday!  Only legitimate name brand products from reputable websites make our list!  Not sure what to buy?  Check our Recommended Carseats list with Editors’ Picks in each budget category from our expert staff or ask us on facebook.

Secondhand Car Seats: Can I buy one? Can I sell one?

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Question: Are used carseats safe to use?

Answer: Maybe.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a used child safety seat.  The main concern is if you don’t know the history, then it is possible it may have been in a crash or damaged.  It may be fine to take a gently used car seat from a sibling or good friend.  Buying one used at an auction site or second-hand store can be risky.  Here are some questions to consider even if you are just borrowing a seat:

  1. Do you trust the previous owner(s) with the life of your baby?
  2. Is the seat in good working condition with minimal wear and no loose parts?
  3. Do you know that the seat was never in a crash, dropped or otherwise damaged?
  4. Do you know that cleaners and solvents were never used on the harness system?
  5. Are all parts present and working correctly?
  6. Are the manual and labels all present?
  7. Is the seat approved for use in your country?
  8. If there is a recall on this car seat has it been resolved?
  9. Did you check that the car seat is not expired?
  10. Did you answer “YES” to all the questions and do you feel comfortable that it will protect your baby in a crash?

It should also be fine to sell or pass along your own used car seat to a friend or relative, provided you can answer “YES” to these same questions and know that you’d trust the seat for your own baby.  If you aren’t certain about one of the questions, anything is possible.  That eBay listing for an “open box” or “like new” car seat may have been returned after a drop or crash, you just never know if you don’t know and trust the previous owner.

While we generally recommend that you buy a new carseat, we understand they can be expensive.  We do list models in every budget category in our Recommended Seats Guide.  Budget convertible and combination child safety seats can be found for under $50 and boosters from $15.  In some areas, local health departments, Safe Kids organizations or other non-profits may distribute free or low-cost car seats.  We also recognize that a used car seat is very likely to be safer than no car seat at all, but the questions above are still very important to the safety of your baby.

If you have any questions about the safety of a used or expired car seat, please contact the manufacturer for more guidance.  Here are some other resources:

NHTSA Used Car Seat Safety Checklist

IIHS: Purchasing a child seat

American Academy of Pediatrics: Used Car Seats

SafeKids: Is it Okay to Use a Second-Hand Car Seat?

CarseatBlog: Buying and Selling Used Carseats

Child Passenger Safety advocates are not out to terrify you into buying a new seat when a perfectly good used one is available.  We just want to make sure parents and caregivers know how to identify a second-hand car seat that may be safe to use for your most precious cargo.

Does My Car Seat Expire? Do I Really Need to Buy a New One?

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Car Seat Expiration Questions Answered, Plus a Used Car Seat Check List

Question: Can I Use My Expired Car Seat?

Answer: “NO,” not according to the manufacturer.  Always follow manufacturer instructions, including expiration dates.  Only the manufacturer of your car seat can advise you to do something other than what is printed on your car seat labels or instruction manual.

There are many reasons that manufacturers have expiration dates for car seats:

  • Plastics and materials weaken with age from prolonged exposure to light, oxygen, humidity, extreme heat, temperature cycles or even vibration
  • Damage like cracks and stress marks can result from drops or crashes
  • Parts can go missing, including essential ones for switching modes
  • Vomit, cleaners & oxidation can damage harness and adjustment mechanisms
  • Labels peel and wear, making it more difficult to find limits, instructions, model number information to check for recalls and if the seat was actually certified for use in your country
  • Manufacturers want to sell you a safer new seat with the latest technology

It’s that last reason that leads some caregivers to believe in conspiracy theories.  Are all the manufacturers and retailers colluding with each other to fill our landfills with perfectly good [used] car seats just to profit by selling you a new one?

Car seat manufacturers are, after all, for-profit companies.  They do want to make money.  They also genuinely want to keep your kids safe and, of course, avoid lawsuits.  Some shorter expiration dates seem overly conservative even to me.  Many today have a reasonable lifespan of 8-10 years.  Consider that there is simply no way for a manufacturer to know what conditions or abuse a car seat may endure in one year, let alone six years!  Yes, individual parts of a car seat may well last much longer than 10 years, maybe even 20-30 years, but the question is how long will ALL the parts together protect a child in a crash?  While it’s obvious that they don’t last forever, how long a car seat is usable depends mostly upon the owner.

Consider a rear-facing-only infant seat that was manufactured 6 years ago.  Perhaps it sat on the shelf and was sold a year later, being gently used with baby for about a year; then it was stored away in a cool, dry basement for 4 years.  Now, baby #2 is on the way but the seat just expired.  Must it really be thrown away or recycled, if car seat recycling is even available in your area?  Despite the light use, we must officially advise that you still follow the manufacturer’s instructions or contact the manufacturer for guidance.

But what if?

  1. If you are the only owner or trust the previous owner(s) with the life of your baby
  2. If the seat is in good working condition with minimal wear and no loose parts
  3. If the seat was never in a crash, dropped or otherwise damaged
  4. If cleaners and solvents were never used on the harness system
  5. If all parts are present and working correctly
  6. If the manual and labels are all present
  7. If the seat was approved for use in your country
  8. If there were no recalls (or any recalls were resolved)
  9. If the seat was unused in a box at a retailer or stored properly for a long time
  10. If you are also convinced it will protect your baby in a crash

That’s a lot of “ifs“, and they may also apply as a Used Car Seat Checklist if you are considering a secondhand car seat. 

It’s simply impossible for a manufacturer, a certified child passenger safety technician, journalist or online advocate to say if your own car seat or a used car seat meets all these “ifs.”  We all advocate for what is safest for your child and there are just too many unknowns with an older car seat that is owned by someone else.  Only the owner can decide if all these apply and if they are willing to accept any risk.  A secondhand or expired car seat may well be safer than no car seat at all if you absolutely cannot afford a new one and cannot find a free distribution program in your area, but the concerns above are still valid.