Q:

My younger brother and his wife moved back to town and are expecting another baby, maybe even twins. They already have a very young baby and a toddler. They need baby furniture and clothes, and I have a lot from my three kids, who are now in high school. Turns out, our old crib and car seats have since been recalled, so my sister-in-law doesn't want them. They seem fine to me: Our children used them, and that was only for a few years, so they are in good condition. What should I do with this stuff? We want to downsize, and it needs to go.

- David

A:

Times have changed so much since you had babies, even if they are still in high school. What seemed perfectly fine back then is now considered unsafe. Today, babies younger than 2 or toddlers small for their age should stay in backward-facing car seats, and cribs with drop sides, bumpers, and fluffy bedding are not recommended.

It's common to want to help young families by giving them hand-me-down baby clothes and furniture. But don't take your brother and sister-in-law's actions personally. They are simply doing their best to keep their kids safe. Safety is more important than free furniture, and in this situation, it's absolutely OK to look a gift horse in the mouth.

In addition to the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission's website, www.cpsc.gov, recalls are sometimes listed in newspapers or on manufacturers' websites. Before buying baby furniture or toys, as well as sporting equipment and many household goods, look online.

Shopping for new items from reputable retailers helps, but it's possible that recently recalled items are still on shelves. Buying used items is far riskier because, since they don't know what else to do with them, sometimes people give recalled items to charities or rummage sales.

Check with the manufacturers. They may arrange for a pickup, send you a repair kit, or let you know what else to do. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to destroy recalled items and throw them away so no one is tempted to use them.

Congratulations on soon becoming an uncle again.

Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality.

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