Everyone knows that fake handbags don’t hold up like the real ones. A fake car seat in a crash test is horrifying – many literally break into pieces!

Fake car seats are a growing threat to kids’ safety as parents buy car seats off eBay & AliExpress as well as from 3rd party sellers on Amazon, Walmart, and other deal-oriented websites that seem to pop up daily. Parents think they’re getting a deal, but often are getting a death trap. 

To read more on this topic, here are articles I’ve worked on highlighting this growing problem:

Washington Post: Knock-off Car Seats are Infiltrating the Market and they Could Be Deadly

CNN: Fake Products, Real Risks.

Brick and Mortar: How to Avoid Buying a Knock-off

Right now, buying from a brick and mortar store is the best way to avoid buying a fake car seat. However, there are a few exceptions to watch out for. Liquidator stores – like Bulldog Liquidators – are not a safe place to buy a car seat as some of the seats they are selling do not meet US standards.  

Brixy – a network of independently owned and operated baby stores – are a great place to shop from as they sell only real car seats directly from the car seat manufacturer. There are several hundred stores in the Brixy network – all have brick and mortar stores and most have websites where you can purchase online. Click here to find the nearest Brixy member store in your area. Two of our favorite Brixy stores are Albee Baby and Magic Beans

Online: How to Avoid Buying a Knock-off

NEVER Buy ANY Safety Device from AliExpress, Wish.com, or eBay

AliExpress.com and Wish.com

eBay

   There are two main categories of car seats sold on eBay:

  • Previously used car seats being resold by a family
    • These can be dangerous as it can be hard to ascertain whether the seat was in a crash (the seller has a financial incentive to be less than honest… and most seats should not be reused after a crash) and whether all parts are present and in good working order. Some seats may be expired – as it is not illegal to sell an expired car seat in the US.  
  • Products coming directly from Chinese manufacturers that typically are not conforming to US regulations including important safety standards.
Not only are these sites selling knock-offs of actual car seats – they are also selling “fabric and strap contraptions” and calling them car seats. These cheap harnesses are literal death traps for a child in a car as the crash test below shows. These contraptions never seem to have a model name – they are called random things like “Seat Baby-Chair Anti-Skid…” or “Baby Safety Seat Children Auto-Car Seats Toddler Carrier Cushion Pad Infant Seat” – this is a red flag as real car seats almost always have a manufacturer name AND model name.
Fabric and strap contraptions are death traps

Beware of a Deal That Seems Too Good to Be True

There are a growing number of sites selling car seats at steep discounts – often more than 50% off their regular price. If your spidey sense tells you this deal is too good to be true, trust your gut! 

Some, like this one, appear to be selling fake car seats. Many parents are finding these fake car seats when they are popping up in ads in their Facebook feed. Notice how in the videos they have blurred out the Doona name and logo – and replaced the captions with ones that aren’t spelled properly like “varify Doona is secure.” A real Doona is $500 and can protect your kid… a fake Doona is about $200 and can kill your kid. The Doona seems to be one of the most frequently knock-off’ed car seats – so if you are buying a Doona make extra sure you are getting it from a trusted seller.

Others appear to be selling real seats but at such steep discounts that it makes you wonder what happened to this car seat before it made it to your doorstep. This site is selling an expired – but purportedly brand new 2010 car seat – at 30% off. Here’s another sketchy site selling car seats at prices too good to be true – who can’t even fill in the “about us” section on their website. 

Many parents are starting to see ads in their Facebook feed for fake Doona’s as well as other unsafe seats. What we’ve seen withe ads for the fake Doona is that it takes

Know About Third-Party Sellers on Walmart.com and Amazon.com

Large chain stores including Target, Buy Buy Baby, and Nordstrom sell only certified car seats directly from the real car seat manufacturer on their websites. Therefore, you can be sure that you’re getting a real seat, not a knock-off.

Amazon and Walmart (and soon Target too) are unique in that they allow third-party sellers – which are independent sellers who offer a variety of new, used, refurbished, and collectible merchandise. Some third-party sellers are very reputable and legitimate – others perhaps not as much. Below we’ve highlighted which third-party sellers on Amazon and Walmart we know you can trust – and which ones might be best to avoid. VM Express and Baby Value are 3rd party sellers that are trusted by car seat manufacturers… we know because we specifically asked several car seat manufacturers about this!

Click here to see if the Amazon seller is a Brixy store – then type the name of the seller into the Brixy search box.

When buying from Walmart, we strongly recommend NOT buying any car seat from a third-party seller other than VM Express. You will know it is a 3rd party seller because it will say “Sold & Shipped by ____”.

Verify the Car Seat You are Buying is on the American Academy of Pediatrics' List of Car Seats

The American Academy of Pediatrics keeps a list of all the car seats & boosters currently for sale in the U.S. market. If the make & model of the car seat you are looking to buy is not on the AAP list, it is possible that the seat is a real seat that just came to market and the AAP hasn’t had chance to add it… or more likely it is a fake seat that could harm your child. 

How to Spot a Knock-off

Registration Card

Knock-offs won’t come with a registration card. The US government requires every car seat to come with a postcard for registering the car seat, in case of a recall.

Instruction Manual

Knock-offs may not come with an instruction manual – and if they do, it is usually written in very poor English with numerous spelling and grammatical errors.

Chest Clip

Knock-offs often do not have a chest clip. Chest clips are not required in the US. However, every single real car seat in the U.S. currently features a chest clip. Therefore, if you don’t see a chest clip on a U.S. seat, immediate red flags should go up that this may be a knock-off car seat.  

In most other parts of the world – including Europe and Asia – chest clips are rarely used. Right now, most of the knock-off car seats coming to the US seem to be knock-offs of European or Asian car seats, and therefore don’t have a chest clip since the true version of the seat didn’t feature a chest clip.

Manufacturer's Website

Can you find the manufacturer’s website? Most knock-offs don’t use the genuine brand name (some don’t include a brand at all) and you won’t typically find a company website.

Model Number, Date of Manufacture, Customer Service Number

Knock-off car seats typically won’t have a model number, customer service number, or date of manufacture printed on the seat – as is required by the U.S. government on all car seats.