I spoke with a car seat brand representative last month, and their pitch was focused on extra measures of safety. A news story was fresh on my mind, and I asked, “What about making it more obvious that parents shouldn’t be putting car seats on top of grocery carts? Like, is there a way to add a visual to the warning that is attached to the seat?”
While she shared my concern, she stated that it does say in the manual not to latch it onto anything other than the base, and that at some point they have to rely on the consumer to read the manual and use common sense.
And I get it. We should all be reading every manual that comes with every piece of baby stuffs we buy, especially the seats we trust to save their lives. I totally understand that. I know that to a lot of people it’s common sense to not put your baby’s carseat on top of a grocery cart.
But let’s just play the reality card real quick. In reality, and I’m just as guilty of this, we don’t always read all of the manuals. In reality, we see the moms and dads that have come before us confidently hoist their babies in their seats to rest atop the grocery carts as they shop. In reality, we sometimes hear those seats “click” and they seem to fit so perfectly up there, we think they were made to do that. In reality, we are exhausted new parents who don’t know which side is up some days. In reality, we have no idea what we’re doing, and sometimes we really do need someone to tell us in some way other than the fine print.
I saw a mom at Target a couple months ago lifting her newborn in his carseat to rest on top of the front of the grocery cart, like at least a half dozen other parents were doing in that same store at that same moment. Her toddler ran circles around her legs, tugging on her loose maternity skirt. She struggled to get the seat to latch onto the cart as she balanced an overstuffed diaper bag on her shoulder.
I paused as I walked toward her. I wanted to say something. I wanted to warn her. I wanted her to put her newborn baby safely down in the cart. I wanted him to be secure if anything jostled them, if his older brother ran into them, if they hit a curb on the way out. I wanted to help her.
I didn’t want to come off judgmental. I didn’t want to deflate her already seemingly tired spirit.
I almost just walked right on, but something in me urged me to stop and say, “Hey! Congrats on the little one. He is adorable. I just… wanted to stop and tell you… I used to put my baby in his car seat at the top of grocery carts like that, and then one day I had a horrible scare. His carseat almost fell off the cart, even though I thought it was latched on. I found out that they aren’t supposed to be up there at all. I had no idea, so I try to tell other parents who also might not know. Even if it clicks, it’s not actually secure. Anyway, you are doing a GREAT job. I know how hard it is to grocery shop with two littles. Hang in there. Have a good day.”
The truth is, I’ve never put my baby on the top of the cart. Not because I’m smarter or have more common sense, but because I’ve been around the internet for a long time. I read the cautionary tales before I had my first baby. But prior to that, it never occurred to me that was not safe, and I’m sure I would have been that mom if I hadn’t known any different.
It was a little white lie, but I hope it helped me convey the suggestion in a way that didn’t come off as harsh or judgmental. As much as I didn’t want her to feel offended by my suggestion, I also didn’t want her baby to get hurt… or possibly die.
No, that’s not being dramatic. Babies have died after their seats have fallen from the tops of grocery carts.
There is no seat that is made to click onto the top of a grocery cart. The safest place for them in their seat is in the basket of the cart, or you can wear them. I know, I know that this complicates things. I know it leaves you less room in the basket for groceries. I know not everyone can or enjoys baby wearing. I know it takes extra planning, but please don’t put your baby in their car seat on the top of your cart.
Tell your friends. Tell them to tell their friends. It’s obvious by the number of parents I see doing this every time I go to the store that it’s not that people lack common sense, but that many of us have bought into this myth that car seats and carts are made to work together. I’m not judging you. I just want to help you keep your baby safe.
Here’s a recent post by The Car Seat Lady about car seats and shopping carts
Here’s a video of a baby who got super lucky when a Home Depot worker caught him after he fell out of his seat atop the cart
Here’s a safety alert from the CPSC