It’s time to stock up the pantry and the fridge, which means a trip to the grocery store. The problem is you have a sleeping infant in a car seat, and you don’t know how to safely put the car seat on the shopping cart.
While it’s not convenient, the best answer is NOT to put the car seat on the shopping cart because it’s not safe, and shopping carts aren’t designed for car seats.
Although you can put the whole infant car seat in the shopping cart, you won’t have much room for your groceries!
Don’t worry! We are experienced moms and know the best alternatives to help you get your shopping done and take care of your baby in the process. Next, we also found some alternatives to help you out and offer suggestions on how to shop with multiple children.
Why It is NOT Safe to Put a Car Seat on a Shopping Cart
No. It is not safe to put a car seat on a shopping cart. However, it is safe to put an infant car seat in a shopping cart, but then how are you supposed to shop? We will get to that, but first, let’s talk about why putting your infant in their seat on a shopping cart.
Take a look at the anatomy of a car seat. You have the main basket with a folding child seat and a large handlebar. Underneath, you have storage for larger items (when the bars are present). What you don’t see are safety devices for an infant car seat – no lock or belts.
If you put an older child in, you can securely strap them in with the included belt. However, if you look at the little fold-down flap on a shopping cart, you will see a clear warning to always buckle your child, stay with the child at all times, never allow your child to ride in the basket, and do not use the shopping cart as a personal infant carrier for a car seat.
In the store, someone can bump into your cart while you are grabbing an item off the shelf and knock your baby over. Meanwhile, other carts could bump into the cart carrying your child and cause them to topple over and cause injury.
Another issue is when “clicking” the car seat onto the top of the child seat, it can actually weaken the car seat clicks. This can cause them to fail in the future.
Warnings on the Shopping Cart
Next, the seat also gives warnings about ages and weights for a car seat! Only use them for babies ages 6 months to 48 months or 15 to 35 pounds.
Why all these warnings? Because shopping carts serve the purpose of carting around intended purchases, not children. With time carts now include a play for babies old enough to sit up unassisted. However, the vast majority of car seats don’t provide safety measures to keep infant car seats securely tethered to a shopping cart.
What does this mean for your baby’s safety? A single push or bump could cause the car seat to come crashing off the cart and cause injury to your baby.
Moreover, if you read through the manual for the car seat itself, you will find most of them tell you not to put an infant car seat on a shopping cart. The car seats do not lock or click into place like they do on a car seat base, which means they are not secure, and your baby can fall.
Injuries From Car Seats on Carts
Over 60 children every day are injured because of shopping carts. Some of the injuries can include head injuries. The good news is, these accidents are completely avoidable by not putting your infant car seat on top of any section of a shopping cart.
Other injuries include concussions, broken bones, and death are all possibilities, from shopping carts tipping over or moving too easily with an infant on top. With no way for the infant seat to stay on top, they can fall over even in the parking lot with moving cars.
Adding a car seat to an already unsteady cart can actually cause it to tip easier. No studies have been done since 2011, but on average, 24,000 annual deaths and injuries happen a year. Keep your baby safe by avoiding uses a shopping cart as a stroller.
Rules of Putting A Car Seat in A Shopping Cart Safely
Now that you know the reasons not to attach or place your infant car seat on a cart at the grocery store, let’s address what you should do.
First, it is safe to put a baby in an infant car set inside the main basket of a shopping cart. However, this is inconvenient as you are left with little room for your purse and groceries.
Second, it is not safe to put an infant car seat on top of the back section of a shopping cart. Third, it’s not safe to place an infant car seat on the child seat area of a shopping cart.
Again, shopping carts are not designed to hold babies but to hold groceries. Don’t worry, we have a list of alternatives to help keep your baby safe while you shop.
Alternatives to Putting a Car Seat on a Shopping Cart
While you cannot put your infant car seat on the shopping cart because it can tip from the added weight, you can put your baby in the shopping car seat too. In order to have enough room to keep shopping, though, you may need to take a second shopping cart for your purchases. While this isn’t convenient, it’s much safer for your baby.
If you don’t want to use two shopping carts, you can put your infant car seat in the main basket and make more frequent trips. This would give you the option to use the child seat as the space to put your purchases.
Another option that may be feasible for you is taking another person with you to the grocery store. If you have a friend, sister, mom, or even a spouse who could go with you, you can have them push a cart with the baby. This frees you up to push a cart for the groceries or other household supplies.
Some moms prefer to use a stroller for their baby, but then they have to push a wayward cart with one hand and a sketchy cart with the other. None of the first options are practical for all moms, though, especially if you have other children. Dragging around two carts or a cart and a stroller just isn’t practical.
Instead, we prefer the following ideas:
Wear Your Baby
You probably already own an infant carrier like a Moby Wrap or an Ergobaby carrier. Wearing your baby while pushing the shopping cart is one of the best options for taking a newborn to the store. With this option, you can even bond with your baby.
Many moms worry that taking a sleeping baby out of a car seat will wake them up, and then you won’t be able to shop in peace. However, most babies will fall back asleep once you start moving around, especially when they are close to your skin.
As you shop, you will move around a lot, and the baby will soothe back to sleep with ease. It’s also the safest and easiest way to shop with an infant. Also, small interrupts in sleep while infants can help babies learn to stay asleep through small disruptions.
Another fabulous option is a baby hammock for shopping carts. It stretches to fit any cart, including a Walmart, Costco, Target, or any other shopping cart. It’s perfect for securely tethering a baby to a shopping cart for up to seven months. From there, you can switch them to the built-in toddler seat.
The innovative product gives babies a comfortable place to lay down and snooze while you place groceries around the baby. Do make sure to keep the base far enough away from the child seat that it can fall on your baby.
Moreover, you need to make sure to watch your baby closely once they can start to move around on their own to prevent injury. The hammock will help make the first few months of your baby’s life more comfortable and safer while shopping. Although, you may have to wake the baby up to put them in the cart.
Some moms even put the infant car seat inside the hammock to keep them from waking up. Although, check the manual to make sure this is safe.
Shopping Cart Cover
Many brands have made amazing shopping cart covers with pillows to help babies stay in place even when seated up in the child seat area of a shopping cart. This option keeps your baby close to you and protected without making the shopping cart a tipping hazard.
They are made to fit shopping carts universally, including Walmart, Costco, and Target, along with other nation or statewide stores. Often these come with pockets to hold sippy cups, bottles, and other items you may need for your baby.
One consideration, though, you need to wait until your baby has some neck strength before using this option. It’s best to wait to use a shopping cart cover until your baby is at least four months old. Once they are old enough, you can use it for the first couple of years to keep your baby safe and germ-free.
Some grocery stores and large retail stores are starting to carry Safe Docks. This is a base built into a shopping cart with a locking belt and cradle. Now moms can shop with their baby and not take up the entire cart in the process. You can find a store with Safe Docks near you.
However, car seats can still tip and fall over. While this can keep your baby safer, it cannot keep the cart from falling over or rolling away from you in a parking lot.
Safe Docks are the easiest options and designed for the sole purpose of keeping babies safe in a shopping cart.
Totes Baby Car Seat Carry
Another option for keeping your baby safe in a shopping cart is the Totes Baby Car Seat Carrier. It fits inside the shopping cart and locks into place securely. Then you place the infant car seat inside the little hammock it creates.
It’s designed to work with most shopping carts and can hold a ton of weight. This is one of the safest and easiest options on the market.
Alternatives To Shopping With a Baby
If none of the options work for you, you still have a few more options to help you get your shopping done when you have a baby. First, you can leave the baby at home. Have the baby’s dad, your mom, or a baby sitter watch the baby while you go shopping alone.
Shopping alone means you don’t have to abandon your cart to change a diaper or have to stop and give a baby a bottle or nurse. It’s no great surprise that shopping without an infant, an infant car seat, and a diaper bag is easier! Moreover, most moms can do their shopping in an hour, meaning you won’t be away from your newborn for long.
Another great option is doing your shopping online. You can order groceries, and for a small fee, have them brought straight to your house. Furthermore, to save even more money, you can order the groceries online and pick them up at the store.
With the latter, you can take the baby with you and leave them in the car while someone loads the groceries for you!
Finally, depending on where you live, you can walk to the grocery store and use the stroller to carry your baby and your groceries. While this would mean you would have to shop more often, it also means you get more exercise and sunlight. While not the most convenient, it’s the healthiest option!
Shopping with Multiple Children
Shopping with multiple children can be a challenge, especially if one of the children is an infant. The best option for shopping with multiple children is to free up the child seat in a shopping cart with one of the hammocks. Then you can place a toddler in the child seat and keep an infant in the back safely.
Also, if possible, go shopping when another adult can watch your children. This isn’t always feasible, though. Older children can walk with you, and you can push up to three in the shopping cart with you. Or you can put two older children in the cart and wear your baby on you with a baby wrap.
Shopping with children can be frustrating. Be prepared, and make sure to have a list. Also, talk to your older children and tell them what behavior you expect and tell them not to ask or touch anything to help keep your sanity safe!
Some stores want to help moms shop and often have car seats built with extra space for children. If possible, locate one of these amazing car seats and start shopping!
Do Britax, Graco, Chicco, Doona car seats fit in a shopping cart?
No car seat works with a shopping cart. First, it would be too difficult to match a car seat to a shopping cart because each store has a different size cart with different materials, shapes, and sizes. Also, no car seat is designed to lock onto a shopping cart.
While you might hear a click from the part of the car seat when placing it on a shopping cart, this is not the seat locking into place because those locks are designed to only lock into the base in the car.
Furthermore, many car seats may fit on a shopping cart, none of them secure to a shopping cart. No car seat has been invented to work universally with any shopping cart.
Will Walmart, Target, Costco, or Trader Joe’s carts work with car seats?
Car seats are not designed to work with any shopping cart. It doesn’t matter what car seat you buy or which store you shop at, shopping carts are not designed for car seats. Not a single shopping cart comes with safety measures for infant car seats and most with warnings against!
The only exception is some car seats now come with the Safe Dock, but even these do not necessarily prevent the risk of top-loading a shopping cart and creating a tipping hazard.
You can check to see if Walmart has car seat carts or if Target has specialty car seat carts. Costco does not currently have carts with Safe Docks.
I’ve been putting my babies on shopping carts in their car seat without any trouble, why should I stop?
While you have been in control of the situation thus far, it takes one incident to cause pain and injury to your child. You may be able to control yourself, but you cannot control other people or even the shopping cart! If a little wind comes along, it could carry your baby away!
Because the car seat does not securely attach to carts, it’s never safe. Even if you have managed to keep your baby from falling, a runaway cart or an errant child could push your cart or knock their cart into your and put your baby at risk. Keep your baby safe from unknown variables by avoiding the convenient choice and opting for safe choices when shopping with a baby.
Shopping with infants can be inconvenient, but there are some smart ways to shop and keep your baby safe. However, using a shopping cart as a car seat carrier isn’t your best option. Instead, you should use one of several tools designed to keep babies safe or wear your baby with a sling as these are the safest options.