**Authors note** This posting does contain information about prior deaths and accidents that have occurred from improper misuse of infant car seats. The car seat information is based on 2012/2013 car seat manuals that are easily accessible through your car seats manufactures website or help-line. Readers discretion is advised. **
All too often I’ve seen parents say ‘My car seat manual didn’t have anything in it about this…’ It made me stop and wonder, is this true? Are there certain types of infant car seats that are compatible with shopping carts so that you can safely place a infant car seat on the upper part of the cart? Do the manuals these parents say they are reading really not have a warning in them that tell them NOT to use their infant seats on top of carts?
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.
“Where do I look for this information?”
If you read through your manual word for word like most manuals say you should, you will sometimes find this warning in the **WARNING** section of the guides which you can locate in the table of contents or within the first few pages of your guide. Your guide may not have it in that section but it will be thrown in somewhere amongst all the information so keep a close eye on photos and those little warning symbols.
Car seat manuals are pretty generic when it comes to the companies warnings for particular products. You’ll find that most companies will have different set up instructions for different model car seats but that their safety information is pretty much the same in each manual for each brand or model that company produces or sells. For example: Dorel Juvenile Group. The brands under this company are Cosco, Safety 1st, Maxi-Cosi and Quinny. All sold under their own brand name but all with different instructions. All with the same generic warnings.
“So what does this all mean?”
Well, for starters it means that car seat companies are well aware that their products are being misused and have made it known in their guides to not put your infant carriers on top of shopping carts. Once you use your carrier outside the normal use that it’s made for, you void warranty and if the product fails during an accident, you cannot sue the company for something that they basically warned you about to begin with. It’s a ‘use at your own risk’ warning that should be followed to prevent injury and death of your infant/child.
“I’ve always done this and never had an issue. My kids are fine.”
While this may be true, and your kids may be fine but is it really a risk you want to take? 24000 shopping cart related injuries annually. Any injury or even DEATH (Yes. Babies have died from head injuries due to their carriers falling off the shopping cart) that has come from a carrier falling off the top of a cart is 100% preventable. The AAP also recommends you DO NOT use your carriers on top of shopping carts. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/2/e545.full
The CPCS put out a bulletin in 2012 echoing the same warnings the AAP has put out there for parents.
Accidents happen. All it takes is a bump. A wheel slipping. A change in balance. A split second… And your world is changed. Like this woman who writes to the stranger who helped her when her carrier that held her baby fell from the top of the cart: http://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/bouncing-back/an-open-letter-to-the-woman-in-the-safeway-parking-lot
Or this mother who was not aware of the dangers but learned through her own experience the dangers placing your infant and carrier on carts can pose:
Ashlie M- I was at walmart and I had my daughters infant seat clicked into the top. The wheel was bad but I hadn’t been paying it much attention, I was only 20 years old and new to baby and new to shopping alone. Anyway I was pushing the cart when the wheel caused it to jump hard, the weight of the food in the cart made it pull to the side and it was way to heavy for me to stop. I held onto it and lead it to the ground slowly/softly (Thank God my daughters seat stayed and didn’t fall off) but my arms were sore for days and I NEVER did it again.
Another infant died last year after the carrier he was in fell from the top of the cart. It was reported through a Facebook car seat safety group by a women who witness it happen AFTER she had told the mother the dangers of putting her baby and carrier on the top part of the carrier. The images here tell the story.
And this was the update I posted a week or so after:
“Well… whatever. My kids haven’t gotten hurt and the chances of something like this happening is rare.”
Okay, well let’s look at the other aspect of danger. The shopping cart itself. Do you know when that cart you place your carrier on was last serviced? Do you know if the cart functions the way it is suppose to and will not fail? Probably not. Shopping carts are abused and used daily multiple times a day, 24-7, 365 days a year. Normally, stores are suppose to do a 3-6 month cleaning, check and if needed repair. But that’s not to say that their check and repair missed anything.
For example, this video shows exactly why you shouldn’t trust the carts or that the stores even care if a cart is obviously a safety hazard. This made the news: http://www.wtvm.com/story/17695104/faulty-shopping-cart-flips-baby
Carts also have a tendency to tip over. As this young mother learned:
Anna M – This didn’t involve an infant seat, but it’s a shopping cart accident, and would have been catastrophic had there been an infant seat on the cart. I was in PetSmart a few weeks ago, my 4-year-old was walking, and my 20-month-old was in the seat of the shopping cart, strapped in. My husband and I turned our backs for a second to pick out some cat litter, and in that tiny space of time, our 4-year-old got onto the side of the cart, and leaned back, pulling the cart over onto himself and ditching our 20-month-old onto the floor. They both were ok, although our youngest had a big bruise on his head, but it was very scary. This could happen to anyone with older kids and babies.
Stores are also aware of the dangers that a shopping cart can pose. Again, it’s a ‘use at your own risk’ once they post warnings on their carts. More and more companies are equipping their carts with specific warnings to users.
“What am I suppose to do with my baby when I go shopping then?”
There are a few options you can explore to find out what works best for you.
You can wear your baby in a carrier. ( http://babywearinginternational.org/ )
- You can put the infant car carrier inside the shopping cart(where the food would go). Yea, I understand this contradicts the CPCS warning above, but its a much safer alternative to leaving your baby on the top part where any movement can topple them off. Your child cannot fall OUT of a cart as easy as they can fall OFF!
- You could leave your child at home with a spouse or friend/relative.
- You could have your spouse/friend/relative go shopping for you.
The options are there for you to look into. The majority now days find that wearing their baby has solved the car seat safety dilemma.
So where do we go from here?
Well, when you take the time to look and learn, you use that information to your best ability and apply it to your everyday life.
Always do your best, but remember to open yourself up to new information so that you can do better.
After all, it’s our children’s safety and lives we are talking about. They deserve to have well informed parents willing to keep them safe at all costs!
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