Preparing for the arrival of a baby can be a wonderful time. It can also get very expensive, very quickly. There are plenty of things you don't HAVE to buy, like pricey diaper bags and clothes and high-tech gadgets like video monitors or baby food makers. But there are some things you can't do without, like a good car seat. And unfortunately, those are one of the priciest items you'll need! You can absolutely get a safe, quality car seat for under $100. But you can also spend upwards of $300 on one, and first-time parents might think the higher price tag makes it better. So, in an effort to get the "better" seat, they'll go looking for a bargain. We are all for saving money where you can, but in the age of internet shopping where you can find almost anything, buying off-brand car seats can be incredibly dangerous. Motherly uncovered a disturbing trend of counterfeit car seats being sold on websites like Amazon and Walmart, and gave us some tips on what to watch for when purchasing a seat.
Car seat technicians at St. Luke's Children's Hospital in Idaho came across two families who were in possession of counterfeit car seats. Luckily, the techs were able to identify that these seats did not meet basic safety standards, and saved the family from taking their precious newborns home in them.
The brand-new car seats looked fine to the untrained eye. But both seats were missing the five-point harness safety clips, in addition to other safety features, like regulatory safety labels. One family said the seat was a gift and was purchased from Amazon as part of a travel system. It was branded under the name "SafePlus", which is similar to a popular brand in Europe.
Motherly began looking into similar listings on Amazon and Walmart.com, and found more counterfeit car seats. The items were being sold by third-party sellers. When the retailers were alerted to the fakes, the listings were removed immediately. But the sale of unsafe or counterfeit car seats and travel systems is a real problem, and one we should all be aware of. When at all possible, only buy car seats from authorized retailers, or directly from the manufacturer. Look for proper labels, and pay attention to spelling; many of the fakes had poorly translated safety labels, or were missing required warning labels.
Be wary of strange or off-brand names, and don't purchase car seats or travel systems from third-party sellers you don't recognize. After you purchase a car seat, take the time to register your seat with the serial number. If the seat doesn't have a serial number, its authenticity cannot be verified and it's most likely counterfeit.