The thought of shopping with your baby for the first time is exciting! But at some point, you might also desire to take the baby out of the carrier, and free your hands for the things you need to buy. This makes you wonder, when can babies sit in shopping carts?
A baby can sit in a shopping cart once he learns how to sit without support, a developmental skill that most babies learn by 6 to 9 months of age. But more than the age, it’s your little one’s readiness that may be deemed more important, as babies develop such skills at their own unique pace.
Check out the signs that your little shopping buddy is ready to sit on their own (and in the shopping cart) below. But aside from that, keep in mind that sitting on a flat surface at home is entirely different from sitting on an elevated and moving shopping cart at the grocery store.
That said, sitting in shopping carts can pose health and safety risks for babies- and they’re not to be taken for granted! So if you want to know more about how to sit your baby safely in a shopping cart, we’re here to share some tips (along with the answers to common questions) before putting your baby on that supermarket trolley.
When Can Baby Sit in Shopping Cart: Signs of Readiness
If you’re thinking of sitting your baby in the shopping cart, you may want to know first if your baby is ready to do so. The safest time to let your baby sit in the shopping cart is when he can already sit without support for the entire duration of shopping.
As mentioned, most babies begin to learn how to sit up at around 6 months of age. Some babies may start to develop the skill a bit earlier or later than the rest. Nevertheless, babies will often show signs that they are ready to learn how to sit up, a vital skill that they will need to thrive in life.
Most often, your baby shows readiness to sit on his or her own through the following signs:
- Good head and neck control
- More coordinated hand and feet movements
- Pushing himself up when lying on his stomach
- Rolling over
- Sitting with the support of his two hands (also called the tripod position)
These signs are just the beginning, but don’t lose your patience. With your guidance, your baby can gradually become an expert on sitting up alone. In fact, most babies can master the ability to sit on their own by 9 months of age.
Once your baby can sit without support for a longer duration, she will be able to balance herself more easily when seated in the shopping cart. This might also make your baby more comfortable and willing to stay on the seat of the car while you’re shopping around.
Health and Safety Considerations for Babies Sitting in Shopping Carts
Aside from baby’s age and readiness, health and safety must be considered when shopping with your baby. Here’s a brief overview of the things to look out for before you let your baby ride on the shopping cart.
Risk of Injury
Shopping carts may appear harmless, but the 2006 data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) showed that around 23,000 children were treated in hospital emergency departments every year due to shopping cart injuries.
Most of these injuries are caused by fall accidents and carts tipping over while young children are on board. What’s more concerning is that many of these injuries involve the children’s head and neck, leading to fatal outcomes.
Here’s a list of the common shopping cart injuries among babies and young children according to the AAP:
- Fall from a shopping cart– around 58% of cases
- Shopping carts tipping over– around 26% of the cases and involves primarily children below 2 years of age
- Becoming entrapped in the cart
- Falling off the cart while riding on the outside
- Striking against a cart
- Being run over by the cart
Another essential factor that is often overlooked are the health risks associated with putting your baby in the shopping cart.
Shopping carts are public items that can harbor millions of disease-causing microorganisms invisible to the naked eye. Shopping cart handles and surfaces are within your baby’s reach while riding on the cart, silently exposing your baby’s vulnerable body to infections.
A potential health risk that has been documented by a 2010 study is the baby’s exposure to raw meat and poultry products while riding on the shopping cart. The study revealed that children under 3 years of age are at an increased risk of Salmonella and Campylobacter infections if they are sitting next to a package of raw meat or poultry.
Salmonella and Campylobacter are among the leading causes of food-borne illnesses in the United States, causing symptoms like diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Children who are sitting inside the shopping cart basket are more likely to be exposed to these infections when compared to children who only ride in the shopping cart seats.
How To Put Baby in Shopping Cart
Your baby’s safety greatly relies on the way you’ll put him or her in the shopping cart. It is important to consider other safer options first- like baby wearing or using a stroller- before you decide to put your baby in the shopping cart.
If you have no other choice than to put your baby in the cart, then here are some safety tips that may help:
Disinfect the shopping cart handle, seat and surfaces before putting your baby in the cart.
You wouldn’t want your baby to get exposed to the germs lurking in shopping carts. That is why bringing some disinfectant wipes and sanitizers is important when shopping with your baby. Thankfully, many large grocery chains in the United States often supply these free of charge.
Remember to disinfect the surfaces of the shopping cart, especially the ones that are within your baby’s reach while seated. This will only take a minute of your time, but can help to prevent your baby from getting sick.
You may also consider using a shopping cart seat cover for additional protection. Just make sure to fasten it properly on the cart for your baby’s safety. Consider washing or disinfecting the cover every after use to prevent it from harboring bacteria and other microorganisms.
Only sit your baby on the shopping cart seat.
While you might be tempted to place your little one inside the shopping basket, it is not recommended to place your baby anywhere other than the shopping cart seat. You may also find some stores with special shopping carts that are specifically designed for babies.
Placing your baby in the shopping card seat allows you to immediately reach and supervise your baby. It also prevents additional movements that may cause them to fall or the entire cart to tip over.
Besides, putting your baby inside the cart basket may add up potential harm. For instance, your little one may suddenly put an inedible item into his mouth (like detergents or cosmetics), stand up in the cart, or get near the fresh meat and poultry in your basket. You know how fast those tiny hands are!
Secure your baby in the safety belt or harness while riding the shopping cart.
The belt and harness are additional safety measures to prevent fall accidents and injuries among children. To serve their purpose, you’ll need to secure your baby with them while sitting on the cart.
Knowing that babies easily get irritated with these kind of restraints, you may easily be tempted to remove them if your little one suddenly turns cranky. DO NOT ever sit your baby in shopping carts without a safety belt or harness. The elevated seat and moving cart is highly risky for a baby without proper restraints in place.
Just like you wouldn’t drive your car without a seat belt, do not place your baby in the cart without safely strapping them in!
Once your baby is seated, stay with the shopping cart at all costs.
Reaching out that box of cereals in the corner or the diapers on the high-end of the rack? Never try to leave your baby seated on the shopping cart without supervision from a responsible adult. Yes, even in a second!
A lot of things you wouldn’t expect can happen in a snap and before you know it, your baby may already be in potential danger.
Instead of leaving your baby in the cart, you may ask for help from an employee or a fellow shopper nearby.
Consider shopping at baby-friendly stores.
Some supermarkets offer carts with tiny cars or trucks where babies and children can sit. These types of shopping carts are less risky for babies and young children as the seats are closer to the ground.
You may also find a store offering a pick-up area or assistance in bringing your grocery items to the parking lot. This can add up safety and convenience since you won’t need to leave your baby sitting on the cart alone while transferring the goods to your car.
Can you put your baby’s car seat in the shopping cart?
It is not advised to put a baby car seat in the shopping cart and let your baby ride on it. Though there has been an increasing popularity among parents sharing this shopping “hack”, this practice is considered unsafe by many experts.
Baby car seats can add up more weight in the cart and since it is not built for shopping, the car seat can be quite unstable while you’re shopping around. The undue weight it adds on the cart seat can also increase the chances of the shopping cart tipping over.
Can you put baby carrier in a shopping cart?
Putting infant carriers in shopping carts is not advised either. Instead, the AAP encourages parents to use a carrier to wear their baby while shopping as it is considered a lot safer for young children.
Is a shopping cart hammock safe?
A shopping cart hammock is a piece of durable fabric that you can hang on the shopping cart basket. It is designed to carry your baby with or without an infant carrier or a car seat, making it popular among parents who are shopping with babies.
Research among parents shows that the reviews for shopping cart hammocks are generally positive. However, there is still no known expert recommendation about its safety for babies and children.
Should you plan or decide to use one for your baby, here are a few things to consider about shopping hammocks:
- It typically suits infants and younger babies who are not moving around much while riding the shopping cart.
- The hammock is designed to hold up to 50 lbs., including the weight of the car seat or infant carrier if you choose to use them with the hammock.
- The plastic clips on both ends are the only ones holding the hammock in place. Considering wear and tear as well as the chances that the clips may dislodge, it may be best to refrain putting hard and sharp items on the space underneath the hammock. This can help keep your baby safer.
To summarize you may sit your baby in a shopping cart once he or she can manage to sit steadily on their own for the duration of your shopping. Just make sure that you have the above safety tips in mind while your baby is sitting on the shopping cart. After all, it’s your baby’s health and safety that truly matters before anything else. May you and your little shopping buddy have fun strolling around!