Following these tips will help to protect you from purchasing a fake car seat:
Do your car seat homework
If you’re not familiar with using car seats, do your homework. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration websites are great places to start. These sites provide valuable resources and information about car seats, including how to find the right car seat or booster seat for your child, and how to use a car seat properly.
The AAP keeps a list of all federally approved car seats on the market that meet federal safety standards. If you don’t see the make and model of the car seat you are considering purchasing on the list, odds are the seat is a counterfeit.
Check out the seat before checking out
If you have a car seat in your online shopping cart, don’t proceed to check out until you do research on it. Search the web for information on the car seat and read other customers’ reviews. It’s also wise to check the American Academy of Pediatrics’ approved car seats list.
“If you can’t find any information about the car seat you are interested in purchasing or the only information you are able to find is on a foreign website, that’s a major red flag and a clear indicator that the seat is a counterfeit,” McQuilken says.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
Car seats are designed to protect children’s lives – not to fit parents’ budgets, unfortunately. So, when there’s a great deal on this pricey necessity, you may be tempted to act on it. However, odds are what you’re getting is a great deal on a dangerous product.
Often when legitimate car seats go on sale, it’s because they are nearing the end of their shelf life. You may only get two years or less time before the car seat reaches its safety expiration date and you must discontinue using it.
“This information isn’t revealed online,” McQuilken says. “That’s why we encourage families to make a trip to the store to examine the available car seat options in-person. There’s a manufacturing label on the box that states when the seat was manufactured. Car seats are good for a minimum of six years – which is why you want to look for a seat that was recently manufactured to get the most bang for your buck.”
Purchase car seats in the store
“Every single car seat we have identified as counterfeit was bought online,” says Deanna Shisslak, nationally certified car seat technician and manager, Parent Education Program, LVHN. “That’s why we highly encourage you to make a car seat purchase directly from in-person retail stores. Not only are you able to see the car seat in person, but you can rest assured that the car seat is legitimate because it’s coming from the actual retailer rather than a third-party vendor.”
Get your car seat checked
Success begins by being prepared. “Get your car seat checked at an LVHN car seat check event before the baby arrives,” Shisslak advises, “so a counterfeit car seat doesn’t prevent you from taking your new bundle of joy home from the hospital safely.”
“A car seat check takes one hour out of your day to ensure your baby’s ride will be a safe one,” Shisslak says.