How to Spot Fake Baby Products Online

Counterfeit baby products are more common than you think—and can be dangerous. Here's how to avoid buying fake products that lurk on sites like Amazon and eBay.

field of baby bottle icons with a cursor on top of one
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Online shopping can be a blessing for any busy person. This is particularly true for parents, who amid diaper changes, food spills, nap schedules, and temper tantrums might otherwise never make it to the store. In fact, almost half of the parents in the United States say they shop online weekly, according to a Pitney Bowes e-commerce study.

However, sometimes the extra convenience—and sanity—offered by online shopping can backfire. This is because some unscrupulous sellers profit from posting fake products that may be unsafe for your baby or child. So, parents should be extra careful when buying baby products from online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Imitation or misleading products are becoming increasingly common—and they're much harder to spot online than in-store. Learn more about how to avoid fake baby products.

What Are Fake Baby Products?

Unfortunately, online marketplaces aren't safe from counterfeit products (exact imitations pretending to be a product) or knockoffs (resembling the product but not identical). These fake products, which can be anything from baby food to baby bath seats, have long been making their way online, where less oversight is available. In fact, many parents have fallen victim: 30% of them reported buying a fake baby item online, according to research from Red Points.

The biggest issue? These fake products, which include diapers, baby carriers, car seats, baby formula and bottles, and toys, can pose a threat to a child's well-being. "Our biggest concern is that these infringers, knockoffs, or counterfeit sellers aren’t going through the same rigorous testing requirements that established brands are undergoing," says Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs at the Toy Association, a not-for-profit trade association for the U.S. toy industry.

In turn, fake products may contain toxic chemicals, break easily, or be a choking (or other health) hazard. Spare a thought for the 4-year-old boy in Wisconsin who had to remove part of his colon, intestines, and appendix after swallowing magnets from a Magformers counterfeit. While rare, these tragic incidents do occur.

“In terms of risk, you just don’t actually know how that product is going to perform," says Linnea Catalan, executive director at Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, a corporation increasing awareness of the value of quality baby carriers and helping small businesses comply with standards. For example, baby carriers that aren't tested and don't meet safety standards may not even be able to support the weight of your tot.

Combating the booming counterfeit business isn't simple. Amazon says it's investing heavily to stop the sale of such products by working closely with brands selling on the platform and detecting counterfeits through machine learning and automated systems. The company's Counterfeit Crimes Unit works to investigate bad actors worldwide.

"We investigate any claim of counterfeit thoroughly, including removing the item, permanently removing the bad actor, pursuing legal action, or working with law enforcement as appropriate," an Amazon spokesperson tells But online shoppers probably won't see an end to fake products anytime soon.

In the meantime, experts in the baby and child product world say parents can be more vigilant to make sure what they're buying is legit. Before completing an online purchase for your little one, here are a few things you can do to make sure the real deal ends up on your doorstep.

Know the Product You Are Shopping For

It can be easy to confuse a real product with a fake one, especially since they can look so much alike—and all you've got to go on are a photo or two. But it's important to learn a product's details, even things as simple as the correct name, says Mond. Shoppers can use the brand's website to compare a product (and can opt to shop directly through there to guarantee they aren't purchasing a fake). Some company websites also list which retailers are authorized to sell their products.

Check to See Who the Seller Is

Once you find what you're looking for, pay attention to where the product is coming from. Purchasing from a third-party seller (sellers that aren't the brand or authorized retailer) on an e-commerce site increases the chances of a product being fake.

A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office revealed that 20 of 47 items it bought from five "popular consumer websites" were counterfeit. So, when possible, choose an authorized seller. If choosing a third-party vendor, pay closer attention to that seller by researching the name, reading what buyers have to say, and checking out the return policy.

Pay Attention to a Product’s Price

Don't fall for an unrealistically low price. “If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” advises Mond. This advice doesn’t mean good deals don’t exist online, especially around the holiday season, but extreme discounts can hint at a fake product. For example, she says, be vigilant if you see a product being sold at $25 across the board, and suddenly find it for $12 somewhere else online.

It’s easy to get excited over a good bargain, says Catalan. But she agrees that a big discount like that is often a good indication that the product isn’t legitimate—and a waste of money.

Read the Reviews

Before completing a purchase, scroll down and read what buyers are writing about the product. It's common for shoppers to talk about malfunctions of a specific item, primarily when it comes to safety. Take heed if reviewers call out a product due to health concerns, not holding up, or not being a legitimate item.

But keep in mind, fake reviews do exist. There are ways to spot those, too. “If you are seeing the same review with just a few words changed or broken English," says Mond, "that should raise a flag."

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