Running errands with a newborn or infant should be an Olympic sport. You have to time it just right, make sure you pack all the essentials and figure out where the heck you’ll put their car seat. Grocery shopping (or any kind of shopping, for that matter) can’t always be avoided with young kids. At some point, you’ll have to take that little one out in the world so you can get some things checked off your to-do list. 

You probably grew up with your parents just plopping car seats on top of a shopping cart. Or, maybe you’ve seen shopping cart attachments for car seats marketed online. But, are these options really safe? What alternatives are out there? That’s what we’ve dedicated our post to today. Here’s how you can safely shop with your baby and their infant car seat:

How To Put A Car Seat In A Shopping Cart

1. Fully buckle your child.

First of all, when you put the car seat in the shopping cart, ensure your child is fully buckled. Follow all the same rules for safe vehicle buckling using this video.

Keep Baby Buckled!

As a reminder, you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack on the harness straps, and the chest clip should be at the armpits. This will help keep your child in a safe position that avoids positional asphyxia from poor car seat posture. Loose or unbuckled harness straps can let your baby slump into a dangerous position, so leave that baby buckled in!

How to Get a Tight Car Seat Harness

2. Ensure your child is facing you. 

Keep your baby’s car seat facing you at all times, so you can observe your child’s position and condition and ensure they’re safe and comfortable.

3. Ensure you can see your child.

When you have an infant seat in a shopping cart, there’s not much room for products. Even so, avoid stacking groceries and other goods in a way that could obstruct your view of your little one. Always keep the baby visible in the grocery cart. 

4. Use the handle to stabilize the car seat.

Your infant car seat will rock back and forth in the cart if not stabilized. Though rocking may seem like a good way to lull babies to sleep, it could put them in a dangerous position and increase the risk of positional asphyxiation. Place the handle back fully against the floor of the shopping cart to keep the seat still and at the appropriate recline. 

Note: Remember that car seats are not made for sleeping or eating. Of course, sometimes it happens—but here’s what you need to know about sleeping in car seats, and this is what you need to know about car seat feedings and snacks. Safety should always be your number one priority! Even when the car seat isn’t in the car. 

5. Never put the car seat anywhere but inside the basket.

Don’t ever put the car seat on the sides of the cart, on the built-in cart child’s seat, or on the top of the cart. None of those places are safe, and placing them there could result in injury for your little one! Only put the car seat in the basket of the shopping cart. 

6. Never use special cart attachments or slings.

There are lots of products out there that are supposed to make it “safe” for you to put the car seat on top of the shopping cart. These are unregulated and unsafe! Again, there’s the risk of positional asphyxiation, but there’s also the risk of the car seat making the cart unstable in toppling it over. The same goes for any shopping cart slings or hammocks that hook to the sides of the cart. Avoid all these products! 

Is It Safe To Put A Car Seat In A Shopping Cart?

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 23,000 children every year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for shopping cart-related injuries. Many of these are head and neck injuries too! Placing the car seat inside the shopping cart basket is the only safe way to do it. Anything else puts your child’s safety in jeopardy and is known to cause injuries. 

Now, we know that the car seat in the basket of the shopping cart isn’t always ideal, especially if you need a lot of items. So, here are some alternatives to putting a car seat in the shopping cart:  

5 AlternativesTo Putting A Car Seat in A Shopping Cart  

1. Use a stroller

Though this might not provide extra room for groceries and other products, it does make towing the car seat easier! A travel system specialized for your infant car seat means your child will be stable and at a safe recline. You can keep your items in the cargo spot under the stroller for storage or use stroller hooks and reusable bags on the stroller handles. (Just don’t let it get too heavy.) 

2. Roll in the wagon. 

Wagons are growing in popularity among new moms and seasoned moms alike. You can find wagons from brands like Wonderfold, Baby Trend, Graco, Jeep, and more that come with approved infant car seat adapters. This means you get the benefit of a stroller with extra cargo space for products (or additional kids). They’re a bit of an investment, but if you plan to use them for more than just grocery shopping, it may be worth it. 

3. Babywear.

Another great option for shopping is a baby carrier or wrap to keep your baby held tight. There are lots of ways to babywear using ring slings, wraps, or soft-structured carriers. Find what’s most comfortable for you and your baby, and wear your kiddo while you shop. Plus, when you babywear, you can still push a cart. That’s a big benefit!

4. Sit them safely in the cart’s seat.

If your child can sit up and support their head (around 6-7 months), you can place them in the child’s seat of the shopping cart with the seat belt buckled. If your child is old enough to do this, it’s much safer than a car seat that may become unstable and fall off the cart. Just ensure you always stay in front of the cart and don’t step out of reach even for a moment. 

5. Consider pickup options.

If it’s all too stressful and complicated, consider ordering your items online and opting for store pickup. Many department stores and grocery stores have this option, and you never have to leave your car or shop with your baby. Everyone stays safely buckled and there’s also no hassle! 

There’s only one way to safely fit car seats in shopping carts. 

As a mom, you’ve got things to do and places to see. Running errands with a newborn or infant is inevitable! It’s important you know how to safely put your child’s car seat in the shopping cart to avoid a common ER injury. So remember, place that seat in the cart basket with the handle down, and your child completely buckled up. It’s the best way to stay safe in the seat while shopping the day away! For more vehicle and car seat safety tips, make sure to check out the Safe in the Seat blog.

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