Don't throw out recalled baby products—do this instead
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Taking recent headlines is the recall of more than 2 million MamaRoo swings and 220,000 RockaRoo rockers, but on any given week a product you’ve come to know, love, and rely on in your parenting journey can be subject to recall.
If you’re the owner of one of these infant swings and rockers—or any other recently recalled baby product—you may be wondering what to do next. For each product, it can vary greatly, but there are some very specific—and important steps you need to take to both ensure your baby’s safety, and the safety of others.
Here is how to keep on top of product recalls and what to do if you own a recalled baby product.
Let recent recalls be a reminder to set your google alerts to include baby and infant recalls. Staying up-to-date on all product recalls and the details of the recall is the first step in ensuring your child is safe.
Kids In Danger is a non-profit organization that was formed to inform and advocate for the public about product safety and they send out a regular newsletter with listings of recalled kids’ products as well as what to do next if your item has been taken off the shelves.
You can also visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) recall database. The CPSC is the government agency that reviews products that may pose hazards to consumers. They have a searchable database that you can refine to keep abreast of all recalls.
The second step is researching any hand-me-downs or second-hand items before you purchase them. While it’s technically illegal to sell a recalled item, if it’s second-hand it’s basically on you, the purchaser, to make sure you aren’t buying something that should have been sent to the landfill.
Fix it and forget it
Not all recalls are created equal. While some items need to be pulled from shelves and destroyed, others are deemed safe with a simple snip of a drawstring or repair of a wonky wheel. Pay careful attention to the details of the recall notice.
For the MamaRoo models included in the rocker and baby swing recalls, the company is sending out a free strap fastener solution to reduce the risk of infants getting entangled in the straps as they hang below the seat.
In other instances, your item will need to be sent back to the manufacturer for expert repair.
In still other scenarios the company will recommend the product be destroyed or returned to the manufacturer.
Return to sender
If a product is fairly new and on the market, you may be entitled to a refund. Sadly, however, that may not always be the case. When it comes to taking recalled items off the market, companies can sometimes be pretty stingy with encouraging people to do the responsible thing.
Once a few years have passed, you may get little to nothing from the company for the recalled item you once spent hundreds of dollars on. Even though that can be a bitter pill to swallow, it’s still best to remove an item from any possibility of reuse.
Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, encourages you to send the item back if it’s an option. “We encourage people to send [the product] back to the company. Even if they are only going to give you a small amount, it’s so important to make that item disappear from any sort of circulation—even if it’s second-hand,” says Cowles.
Make a fuss
While a company may not be advertising any incentives for removing a baby item from circulation, Cowles says you shouldn’t be afraid of putting on the pressure. She recommends you make a fuss.
“Look, if you bought a Pack-‘n-Play five years ago and you planned to use it on your newborn, it’s not good enough that you only got [one] use out of it,” she says.
Ask for a replacement product, a voucher for a new item, or even free UPS pickup to deliver their recalled baby products back to them.
Destroy and dispose
It’s illegal to resell a recalled product. You may get away with it, but that purchase may put another child in danger.
It’s encouraged that you do your best to destroy the offending product. Destroy doesn’t mean just throwing it in the trash or tossing it in the donate pile, it means dismantling it as best as you can and disposing of it piecemeal.
“You’d be surprised at what people will take from your trash. If [a recalled baby product] looks good to them, it could go home with them and another child may end up in danger,” says Cowles. She says to hold onto parts with the first trash removal to make reassembly either impossible or too difficult to bother with.
If you absolutely must resell or consign your item, make sure it comes with a recall kit and you sell your recalled product either repaired or with the kit attached, otherwise—if the next child who uses it is hurt—you and the consignment store will absolutely be liable.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.