Garage sale savvy

Tips and precautions on how to shop smart

A great bargain is hard to resist, but Health Canada is again reminding Canadian parents to be careful about buying (and selling) used baby gear. Here’s how to shop smart:

Car seats must meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and have an intact label detailing the height and weight limits for safe use with a baby. Essentially you want it in the box: don’t buy it unless it’s got all the straps and parts and instruction materials. Check with Transport Canada (1-800-333-0371) before buying or selling one. Also, don’t buy a seat that’s been in a crash.

Cribs made before 1986 do not meet current safety standards and are prohibited for sale by law. The mattress must fit snugly with a gap of no more than 3 cm between mattress and crib. Spacing between the bars should be no more than 6 cm. Corner posts should be no more than 3 mm high. Floating mattress boards attached with S or Z-shaped hooks are not safe. (Editor’s note: Since the publication of this article, drop-side cribs have been banned. Click here for more information.)

Strollers made before 1985 may not meet current safety standards. They must have a lap belt which is solidly attached to the frame. Ensure brakes and locking or folding mechanisms work well and the wheels are solidly attached.

Baby gates with large, diamond-shaped or large V openings at the top, can trap a child’s head and cause strangulation.

Playpens should be free of protruding bolts and the mesh should be a close weave, like a mosquito net. Check to make sure folding and locking mechanisms work well.

Baby walkers are illegal to sell in Canada since April 2004. If you have one, you’re supposed to destroy it and dispose of it.

For the most recent information, visit hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/cons/garage_e.html