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Staggering inflation and rising living costs make struggling parents the perfect target for purveyors of counterfeit car seats. Unregulated knockoffs are typically sold via third party vendors online, often selling familiar brands at deeply discounted prices that are too good to be true. Naturally, this deceitful practice can put children and babies in harm’s way and it may be more common than you might think. Fortunately, a bit of prudence and few helpful tips can help parents avoid car seat dupes and keep their children safe.

Nick Aysseh, manager for the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Injury and Violence Prevention, shares his top tips to spot a counterfeit child car seat.

In the U.S., all child car seats must include: 

  • A 5-point harness with straps that go over the hips and shoulders
  • A chest clip
  • A splitter plate in the rear
  • Labeling with specific weight and height limits
  • Manufacturing label with name, model number, date of manufacture and expiration dates
  • Registration card and manual

“The reason we require the chest clip is it helps disperse the crash forces and keep the child secured so they don’t come out,” Aysseh said. “If you have a seat that doesn’t comply with those standards, you could potentially have a child come out of the seat or be injured by the mechanism that’s designed to protect them.”

To spot counterfeit child car seats, you should purchase car seats only from a reputable company. When shopping online, Aysseh recommends avoiding third-party vendors. If you are not sure, look at the bottom of the listing. You can also look for these red flags:

  • Missing labels
  • Missing registration card and manual
  • Labels with bad grammar
  • Seats without a chest clip

If you realize you have a counterfeit car seat, stop using it immediately. Contact the Yale New Haven Hospital car seat hotline at 203-200-KIDS (5437) or email to connect with a certified car seat technician who can help point you in the right direction.

Once you have a car seat, the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Injury and Violence Prevention can help you install it correctly. The center offers free appointments in New Haven and Bridgeport twice a month and once a month at Greenwich. Email for an appointment or call the car-seat phone line at 203-200-KIDS (5437). 

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