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5 products for kids you should avoid buying on Temu and how to find safe alternatives, according to a pediatrician

Phone showing the Temu app resting on computer keyboard.
A pediatrician suggests avoiding buying products such as toys and strollers on Temu.Getty Images
  • Temu's sales model keeps it outside of US customs regulations.

  • Even seemingly harmless items like toys can pose hidden dangers.

  • Here are the items to avoid, and how to find safe, affordable alternatives.

Despite the convenience and cost savings of discount online retailers like Temu, there's a real hidden danger lurking. The US has lots of regulations around product safety, and an established system for issuing recalls when a product is discovered to be unsafe. Sites like Temu operate outside that infrastructure.

"The moment we're buying from a third-party site, there's no accountability," Ilan Shapiro, pediatrician and chief health correspondent and medical affairs officer with AltaMed Health Services, told Business Insider. "It creates a gap in safety."

Here's why discount retailers like this can pose a real safety threat. A pediatrician says there are five kinds of products you shouldn't buy and shares advice on finding safe, affordable alternatives.

In the US, there's accountability and oversight built into the supply chain, Shapiro explained. By selling very cheap items, retailers like Temu and Shein use a provision that means they're not bound by the customs regulations, Congress has found. This not only means that these retailers might be using forced labor, according to the Congressional report, but it also brings up major safety concerns.

"If you're buying, you have to understand you're not getting all the safety and quality that you can get from other retailers," Shapiro said. "Maybe the price is extremely affordable, but that doesn't mean that it's the best thing for our children."

Toys

Buying toys from an online retailer might seem harmless enough, but it's actually one of the more dangerous types of purchases, Shapiro said. There are three major concerns: toxins that kids could be exposed to if they chew on their toys, sharp edges on toys, and small pieces that could pose a choking hazard.

"Anything that has small pieces, that's a recipe for disaster," Shapiro said.

In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates toys. When you order directly from China or another country, there's no oversight.

Bottles, cups, and feeding supplies

Be wary of buying any bottles, cups, pacifiers, or feeding supplies on discount sites. It's possible that these products contain chemicals that aren't safe for kids — or anyone else, Shapiro said.

"Anything that goes on the mouth, I would have second thoughts," he added.

Car seats and accessories

Car seats are a huge safety concern, so they're tightly regulated in the US. Any car seats sold by US retailers meet the same safety protocols, whether it's a cheap seat or a brand-name seat that costs hundreds of dollars.

"There's a standard for that," Shapiro said. With Temu and other discount retailers, there are no such assurances.

Always avoid aftermarket car seat accessories, like covers that didn't come with the seat, headrests, car seat covers, and mirrors, since these can also pose a threat to safety, according to Seattle Children's Hospital.

Pajamas and sleeping spaces

Pajamas are tightly regulated in the US to reduce the risk of choking or strangulation and increase fire safety. So too are cribs, bassinets, swings, and anywhere else that children sleep. With Temu — you guessed it — there are no safety requirements.

Strollers

Like cribs, strollers are subject to recall in the US, as well as safety regulations. The strollers available on Temu are often knockoffs of popular brands, like Doona, and haven't met those safety standards.

"We want to know what we're buying, and it's going to be very difficult for parents to get a straightforward answer from Temu," Shapiro said.

Look for certifications

In the US, many brands choose to get JPMA Certification, which shows that the product meets standards set by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. This isn't legally required, but it can provide some peace of mind on products ranging from cribs and strollers to baby monitors and bed rails. You can look up products here.

Steep discounts can make sights like Temu seem alluring, but Shapiro said he prefers "to pay a little more for safety and a better quality product."

When you're buying from a reputable retailer that's subject to US regulations, more expensive doesn't necessarily mean safer, he noted.

"Because it's cheaper doesn't mean that it's better, or worse," as long as it meets safety regulations, Shapiro said. "We need to be cautiously optimistic on what we're buying. The more we think about these purchases, the more wellness and safety we'll bring to our children."

Read the original article on Business Insider