Safe in the Seat

To Recycle or Not to Recycle? 

2019 is the year of game-changing sustainability. There are often three bins to choose from now when you’re ready to make your free throw — but until one of them says “car seat,” how do you know where it goes? Most importantly, how do you know when it goes? Lucky for us, Target usually does a car seat trade-in program twice a year.  

But, before you start making your shopping list, remember: You can give another mama 100% off by passing on your seat to another child. Here’s how to know if your car seat deserves a new life: 

  • It isn’t expired 

This is the easiest one to check. Your car seat won’t go sour in the fridge, but safety standards will change as technology improves. (Would you want an iPhone 5 right now? Same idea.) Plus, if it’s an infant seat, the base and the seat may have different expiration dates. Check the manufacturer label on yours to make sure. 

  • There are no existing recalls 

A car seat that isn’t safe for your child isn’t safe for any child. And since most companies don’t want to shout their mistakes from the rooftops, the National Highway Safety Administration maintains a comprehensive database to catalog every car seat and vehicle safety issue. 

  • It has all its original parts

You know when you have to return something you’ve already opened and upturn your entire house searching for every part to shove back in the box? Same kind of searching for this (i.e. inserts, harness pads, manual, etc.). 

  • It has not been in an accident 

Many car seats need to be replaced if they were involved in an accident, even if the child was not in the seat when it happened. If the force of a crash is enough to bend the steel in your vehicle’s frame, it’s enough to impair the plastic in your little’s car seat (even if you can’t see it). 

  • The smell has not been compromised 

Let’s be real. Things come out of our babes that smell … questionable. And those things come out wherever we are — in the car, at the store, during family photos — you name it. If you’ve properly cleaned your seat (with only what the manufacturer allows) and made good-as-new magic happen, you’re in the clear. Not good as new? Don’t worry, sometimes there’s just no saving it. (Note: For any other nose-tickling smells, always disclose whether the seat was in a smoke-free, pet-free home.)

  • It has never traveled under a plane (or anywhere other than a car/stroller) 

This is a big one. When you check your car seat with luggage, though it’s one less thing for you to carry, baggage handlers will not be as gentle with it as you are. It may be tossed, put under or between other heavy items, and come out with damage you may not even notice. 

  • The integrity is excellent 

You may be noticing a common theme: Do not pass your car seat along to another child if it is damaged. This includes no broken parts, no frayed straps, all angle indicators working, etc. If you aren’t sure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry — recycle it during this Target event while you have the option to do so.