Car seat in shopping cart

How To Put A Car Seat In A Shopping Cart Safely

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If you want to know how to put a car seat in a shopping cart then you need to be aware of the dangers in doing this incorrectly: nearly 24,000 children are in accidents involving shopping carts each year. Here at Kid Sitting Safe we are committed to educating parents about child car seat safety and this alarming statistic suggests there is a huge problem to be solved. This article looks into whether there is a safe way to put a car seat in a grocery cart.

Parents may mistakenly think that putting their loved one in the shopping cart whilst still in the car seat is a safe option because the car seat will protect them in the event of a fall. This is not the case. Although the seat will help protect your child whilst properly installed in your car in the event of a crash, the seats are not designed to protect in the event of a fall from height. 

Car Seats in Shopping Carts - Let the Statistics Warn You

Each year a record 10,000 kids in the US are treated in an emergency room for child car seats related injuries according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Take note, NOT from a crash but due to MISUSE of car seats for “other purposes”. A notable percentage of that is due to a fall from elevated surfaces such as tables and counters and those shopping carts, as well as carts tipping over. Don’t let your child become a statistic!

Want to see some more safety statistics that will shock you? Please take a look at our Car Seat Statistics. Our hope is that these statistics will motivate more parents to follow best practice when it comes to the use of child car seats, as this will make a huge impact in saving lives.

Another study reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that shopping carts are the leading cause of head and neck injuries in kids. 16% of the injuries involved falling from child car carriers.

These accidents resulted in concussions and fractures and there were reports of deaths from falls from grocery carts and carts tipping over.

We sincerely hope these numbers and facts give parents sufficient warning. Please don't use child car seats on shopping carts (unless using an approved docking system - see below) or let your children ride or play with them. Shopping carts are not toys.

The Threat of Improper Use of Shopping Carts

Shopping carts are designed and built, as the term suggests, to hold your grocery items. Most shopping carts incorporate child seats and only these should be used for carrying your children on the cart. Standard shopping carts are not designed to safely hold a child car seat. You should therefore never attempt to balance one on top of the cart.

A shopping cart can tip over easily because of the narrow wheel base in relation to its size. They are also more likely to tip over when holding a child car seat at the top as this will affect balance. If your child is sat in the car seat this “top heavy” load will be greater. 

Furthermore, since you can’t buckle that child car seat onto the shopping cart the car seat will only be delicately balanced. You are putting your loved one at serious risk if you attempt this. Whilst you may have your eyes keenly on your kids and be pushing the cart as slowly and gently as possible; you can’t control unexpected scenarios such as other people bumping into your cart on the aisles.

Measures Taken by the Government and Private Sector

Due to the growing number of accidents reported, voluntary shopping cart safety standards were instituted in the US in 2004. However, incidents involving shopping carts continued to rise despite this move. Store owners and administrators are also starting to take action by putting warning signs on carts about the dangers of incorrect use.

How to Put a Car Seat in a Shopping Cart Safely - Introducing Safe-Dock™

Despite the warnings, many parents continue to balance infant seats on shopping carts. As a result, thousands of preventable accidents occur to infants in retail stores each year.

The Safe-Dock, manufactured by the Safe-Strap Company, is the first universal car seat docking station for shopping carts. It securely contains most infant carriers sold in the United States, allowing parents with infants to conveniently transition from car to cart for a simpler and safer shopping experience.

Using a Safe-Dock is the only way you can safely put a car seat in a Grocery Cart. However, the docking system will not prevent the shopping cart itself from tipping over, so you still need to take great care. The highest risk time for shopping carts tipping over is when in the car park transitioning from footpaths to the road.

We think this product is great and will really help to reduce the number of accidents with children and shopping carts. Not to mention making life more convenient for parents. The Safe-Dock grocery carts aren’t in all grocery stores, but you can check via this link which stores in your area offer them. If your store doesn’t currently have Safe-Dock, you can also send them an email through the locator requesting this and they’ll make sure they see it. Feedback in numbers is powerful. Stores that receive enough requests will invest in equipping their carts with Safe-Dock.

Tips for Hassle Free Safer shopping

While you can’t avoid doing your grocery chores, you can manage to make it safer and hassle-free. Let these simple tips help you out:

Bonding while shopping

You carry your kids with you because you also want to bond with them while doing your mall or grocery shopping, right? I can attest to that; grocery shopping is one of my best bonding times with my children. If you have young children, try and have a partner go with you when you do shopping with your kids. If husband or wifey is not around, tag along your friend or sibling to watch over your child. Someone who can carry the baby or help you push the cart.

Use the online power

The Internet is now an avenue to make your shopping hassle-free. With just few selections and clicks you have instantly made your grocery shopping. Many stores now have private shoppers who will make the shopping for you to be picked up or delivered right at your doorsteps.

Use A Baby Carrier

A baby carrier or a sling attached to you is a lot safer option that letting them ride those grocery carts. Check out our Best Baby Carrier Reviews if you want to shop in style as well as comfort!

6 Safety tips When Using Shopping Carts

Car seat in grocery cart

Here are some safety measures to help you better take care of your kids while inside shopping malls and grocery stores concerning carts use:

  1. NEVER allow your child to stand to any side of the cart. Arms and legs can be pinched or caught.
  2. NEVER allow your child to play with the cart.
  3. NO infant carriers or children car seats on top of carts.
  4. There are now child safety seats on carts, ALWAYS opt to use one that is low to the ground.
  5. If you so decide to use the cart, ALWAYS keep an eye on your children and ATTENTIVELY hold the cart.
  6. BUT BETTER YET, find options to NOT let your child ride or be placed on carts.

3 simple reminders for child car seat safety

  1. Just as the car seat safety precaution and hazard tells you, ALWAYS buckle and snug the seat belt or harness strap on your kids, CORRECTLY. This to avoid falling from the carrier, which is a frequent cause of accident and also, to avoid being caught or strangled in the strap.
  1. NEVER put the car seat on an elevated area, such as a shopping cart, high chair, table or counter top, bed, sofas, and the likes. Such precaution will keep your kids from falling out/with the car seats from height. 
  1. NEVER use child car seats other than for the purpose it was made for. They are STRICTLY to be used inside your cars or on strollers (when part of a car seat stroller combo system). If you do take it out of the car or the stroller, BE SURE to firmly stand it on the floor.

I hhope you have found thesetips helpful in multi-tasking caring for your kids and doing your grocery shopping chores. Remember, as a parent you are the primary protector of your kids; as an adult, children are dependent on you, so don’t let you yourself contribute to the safety hazards around them. BE RESPONSIBLE. NO children car seats on shopping carts unless using an approved docking station, PLEASE!


Robert is a father of a young daughter and has developed an expertise in child car seat safety. He is a keen supporter of the use of child safety systems having seen his daughter come away from a side impact collision unscathed due to the use of a child car seat. When he's not spending time reviewing child safety systems he works as a Technical Manager on major construction projects.

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