Everyone knows the unspoken rule - never wake a sleeping baby - so how perfect that you have the ability to transport baby out of the car even when he has fallen asleep. In fact, convenience is one of the top reasons many parents choose to purchase an infant only car seat, you know, the "bucket" type. However, there's one mistake many of these same parents make that could seriously injure their baby...
I see it all the time, you have to have seen it too. The infant car seat teetering on top of the shopping cart! EEEEEEEEEkkkkkkkkk... not good! Seems like a really great way to keep your baby close so he can see your face as you stroll about the store together. Unfortunately, it is very unsafe as infant car seats are not designed to ‘snap' only the top of a shopping cart. Infant seats are designed to hook onto only 2 things, the base for the car and a corresponding manufacturer's stroller. And actually, most car seat manufacturers strictly prohibit from putting your infant seat on top of a shopping cart - yup, you will find it buried deep within that owner's manual along with dozens of other warnings. Typically the seat is just perched on top of the cart, not actually strapped down, center of gravity of the cart is changed, the seat is not secure and a simple bump from a passerby might send the seat toppling off your cart. A shopping cart isn't exactly the most stable thing around and so why risk it? Enough injuries have resulted in car seats falling from shopping carts that the Academy of Pediatrics also now recommends not mixing the two at all.
But alas, as new parents we see others doing it so we also think it's ok. Trust me, before I knew better, I was a "cart seat" mommy too. See, even child passenger safety technicians are real people too! We make mistakes, learn, correct them and then educate others about it. I became more informed and realized there's a better, safer way to transport my son in the shopping cart while still allowing him to remain asleep from that car nap. One friendly reminder from a passerby and I haven't risked that 3 foot fall ever again.
Let's be realistic though, you are going to have to take baby shopping at some point during their young life! We can't exactly get a babysitter every time we need to go to the store! So what do you do? Try leaving the car seat in the car and wear baby in a soft carrier so he is close, cozy and safe. This is the option we often chose when my second son was born. He loved it and I had a spot to actually strap my 2 year old into the child seat portion of the cart. Another option if you choose to bring in your infant seat, move it down into the larger basket portion of the cart. There the seat will be more stable deep within the 4 sides of the shopping cart. Stack your purchases underneath the basket or if you are buying clothes on hangers, hang them from the handle - keeps baby safe AND keeps your clothes wrinkle-free. Perhaps you put baby into a stroller and push him around while dragging the cart behind you. Not ideal, but definitely do-able. Whichever option you choose for your shopping trip, please keep the infant seat off the top of the cart. Car seats are ultimately "car" seats not "carT" seats.
How to do choose to shop with baby - Are you the baby wearing type keeping everyone close and cozy or do you bring in the infant carrier placing baby in a secure location? What other SAFE shopping cart lessons you have learned?