No Car Seat in Grocery CartToday I saw you at the store and I gasped. The memories washed over me. I wanted to tell you my story. But you don't know me and you certainly aren't seeking unsolicited advice from the lady across the grocery store aisle.

But I gave you this URL and hoped you'd look it up and read this post. And I pray you realize that I'm not trying to stick my nose in your business. I just don't want anyone to endure a tragedy.

So here is my story — one I have never told before.

It's a struggle trying to take care of your family's needs while you have a little baby. I know. I have six kids of my own! Getting all the shopping done before someone has a meltdown (the baby, older siblings, or mom) is a weekly trial I never looked forward to. I mean where in the world do you put everything? How do you juggle the baby and the other children and the food and the diaper bag and the enormous package of toilet paper that, by itself, fills the entire cart?

When my fifth baby and first son was born in 2000, I was again experiencing this dilemma. I decided the best way to manage it all, was to drop off the three oldest kids at karate, scoop up baby Samson with Monica (3) under her own power, and rush down to the Winn Dixie at the end of the strip mall. If I had an organized list and kept a brisk pace, I could get back to class just as they were finishing up.

With my new grocery shopping plan secure, I got the older kids into class and hurried down to the store with the two little ones. I unlocked Samson's car seat from the automobile base and carried him inside. I selected a cart, put his carrier up on the seat area, and carefully snapped the car seat locking mechanism onto the back bar.

Off we went, quickly gathering the items on my list. I checked out with just enough time to load the car and get back to class. Whew!

As I scurried through the parking lot, my cart hit a small pot hole in the black top. Samson's car seat broke away from the cart, flew straight ahead over the far end of the cart, flipped in the air, and headed toward the pavement. The carrier handle which — thank God — was locked upright, happened to be the exact point that hit the pavement and happened to hold firm. The car seat bounced off the road and continued on it's somersault, finally landing upright in the middle of the parking lot.

I was horrified and shocked as I frantically ran toward the seat. Samson was screaming from being violently awakened from his nap. But miraculously he was unharmed.

Samson was spared serious or fatal injury only because of sheer luck or divine providence or both. I honestly thought car seats were equipped to be safely used on the top of a grocery cart. But they are not. Please, dear mom, they are not!

[Note: since publishing this post, I have been informed that not only is the latching mechanism not designed to securely attach to a grocery cart, but doing so can actually damage the mechanism, making the seat unsafe in the auto base and/or on the stroller!]

Now, over 12 years later, seeing a baby in a car seat propped up on a grocery cart puts knots in my stomach and my hair on end. Just a few months ago, a sweet three-month-old baby died when his carrier fell from a shopping cart. I don't want that to be you —or any mom — ever again.

The American Association of Pediatrics has a list of rules when it comes to kids and shopping carts, but Dr. Smith says it's best to keep infant carriers in strollers that have a latch that will hold that carrier in place.

“If you're not able to do that, I always tell parents here to put it inside the actual basket of the cart. It's just a safer place for it to be,” he says.

It's very rare for me to go shopping without seeing someone like you — a caring mom just trying to take care of her family — with a car seat up on the shopping cart. You're not alone. “Everyone does it.” But please, please don't. I know that trying to figure out how to transport your baby and all the other things you need will be a challenge. But please find another way!

May you and all your babies be safe.

Addendum #1

It is March 20, 2014. This post has exploded. I am grateful for the shares and comments. (And I cannot tell you how glad I am that just last week I moved this site from a BlueHost VPS to LighteningBase. I could shout from the rooftops how happy I am that my sites are no longer crashing every day and that the load times are not bogging down!)

In an attempt to keep the post on purpose, I've just written a follow up post for those of you who really, really, really need to tell me that the accident I describe could have been avoided. If that describes you, please go to the link provided in this addendum first to vent. Then you can come back — happy, refreshed, and rejuvenated — to focus on the topic at hand.

Thank you for  your cooperation!

The Obvious Thing About Childhood Accidents


Addendum #2

It is March 21, 2014. Sigh.

  1. For the few of you who insist that because you've put your child's seat on a grocery cart like this and it hasn't ever fallen, so this will never happen (because, apparently, the laws of physics don't apply to you), please, use  logic. I have been a parent for nearly 27 years and we have never once had a house fire. For some bizarre reasons I still have smoke detectors and a couple of fire extinguishers in my house. (Crazy, conspiracy-theory, nut-job that I am. Oh, and because I must be selling fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. (Because I own
  2. For those of you who claim your seat really does lock down tight on a grocery cart and fail to acknowledge that this can damage the mechanism making it unable to attach completely to a car seat base or stroller (because, apparently, the laws of physics don't apply to you), please, use  logic. If you use a car seat for safety, it only provides safety, if the safety features work.

You are free to ignore the facts. Your call. We all make choices. But be real grownups and stop arguing the stupid.

More facts you are free to ignore: Infant Car Seats Safety and Shopping carts -What you NEED to know. To quote one small portion (you should read the entire thing if you're in doubt):

I’ve been pulling every manual I can find offline the last week to compile a list of infant car seats and their manufacturer recommendations for use with shopping carts. Its a list of the 2012 popular infant car seats that were sold last year into this year.  I included links when I could so that you could go over the manuals yourself. There are less then 2 manuals that I could not find a specific sentence of ‘NEVER place carrier in/on top of shopping carts.’  But, there are warnings in every guide that state/warn of fall hazards. ‘Fall Hazard: Childs movement can slide carrier. NEVER place carrier near edge of counter tops, tables or other elevated surfaces.’  So it’s pretty easy to put two and two together. Infant carriers do not belong on a surface that they can FALL from.

But, yea, I know, I know. You've been putting your car seats on the grocery cart forever and nothing bad has ever happened and, plus, your car seat totally works that way and it doesn't damage it at all.

La la la la…I can't hear you!

Addendum #3

Once I had this experience, I never put a baby carrier atop a grocery cart again. I had one more child (my sixth) three years later. I've always been the primary grocery shopper and always did my shopping during the day so we could all be home as a family at night.

Today is March 18, 2014. Due to all the questions about how to accomplish this, I've added a few highly rated, affordable products that might help you do your shopping with a safe, comfortable baby. I have not used any of them, as my “baby” is not ten years old. This is for information on the types of products available and mentioned by others.

Hope they help!

Baby Grocery Cart Covers

Summer 2-in-1 Cushy Cart Cover and Seat Positioner

Key feature: This has a removable “infant positioner” to keep even young children safely and softly seated so they don't tip over and don't bang their heads and faces on the push bar.

Summer Grocery Cart Cover

Leachco Prop ‘R Shopper Body Fit Shopping Cart Cover

Key feature: This has two “side props” that adjust to tuck around baby for full support on both sides.

Leachco Shopping Cart Cover

Infantino Compact 2-in-1 Shopping Cart Cover

Key feature: This cover is very highly rated, inexpensive, and also fits on a restaurant high chair.

Infantino Shopping Cart Cover

 Baby Slings and Packs

Maya Wrap Lightly Padded Baby Ring Sling

Key feature: Can nurse baby in carrier, lots of colors.

Maya Baby Carrier

Boba Wrap Classic Baby Carrier

Key feature: Infant up to 35 pounds, model has red hair (heh)

Boba Baby Carrier

Infantino Sash Mei Tai Carrier

Key feature: padded shoulder straps, detachable hood

Infantino Baby Carrier