Shopping cart safety

While shopping at the grocery store, it’s quite common to see young children climbing on and standing up in shopping carts. Although safety belts have been available for many years on most shopping carts, there are still an estimated 21,400 children under the Walker -shoppingcartcoverage of five who are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year because of injuries sustained from shopping carts. Most of these injuries are head injuries due to falls from not being properly restrained in the child seat of the cart.

Most children love to climb and do not enjoy sitting still for long periods of time. So parents face the challenge of keeping their kids restrained and entertained while shopping and may be tempted to let them climb on the cart or ride in the basket just to keep them happy. Or a child may get out of the restraint belt while mom or dad is preoccupied with shopping. So how do you keep your little one safe while you shop?

Here are some tips to help.

Always use the seat belt/safety strap

Children who are properly restrained in the child seat of a shopping cart are much less likely to fall out of the cart so make it a rule that if your child is in the cart, the strap has to be fastened securely. This should be non-negotiable with your child, just as seat belts and car seats in the car are a non-negotiable rule when riding in the car. Infants who are not able to sit up without assistance should not sit in a shopping cart seat unless it has a built-in infant seat with a harness restraint system. Never allow kids to climb on the cart or ride in the basket. Older children should not push the cart if younger children are riding in it and should not be allowed to ride on the outside of the cart, as this could cause the cart to tip over.

Use a shopping cart cover

Shopping cart covers help protect kids in two ways. First, they cover the seat and bar of the shopping cart which protects from germs and provides some padding, making the ride more comfortable. Secondly, some covers provide extra safety straps to provide a more secure ride. There are numerous covers available in a wide variety of styles and designs so you may want to shop around to find the best one for your child’s needs. Some even have toys attached to the cover to provide entertainment during the trip through the grocery store. When shopping for a cart cover, make sure it is large enough to fit over the child seat and bar of the shopping carts you most often use and check whether or not it has its own straps to restrain the child or if you have to use the straps on the cart.

Engage your child in the shopping experience

If your child feels included while shopping, he may be more likely to sit safely in the cart through the whole trip. Talk with him about the choices of products you are buying. Let him help pick out some of the items, if he’s old enough and talk about what you will use the items for at home. If your child is old enough, let her help you read the grocery list and check off items as they are put in the cart. Or she can hold a calculator and add up the cost of your purchases. Even toddlers can be involved by using a list with pictures instead of words or using a cheap calculator and let them pretend to add up purchases. Keeping your child involved and entertained can not only make your shopping trip safer, but also more enjoyable for you both.

Use these tips to protect your child from shopping cart falls and injuries every time you shop!

About the Author

Tamara Walker, R.N., aka “MomRN”, is the mom of two teenagers, a registered nurse, a child safety expert and instructor, and host of the “Ask MomRN Show”. Her passions are to help parents as they navigate the journey through parenthood and to protect children of all ages. Her websites are and MomRN has been a member of the PedSafe Expert team


One Response to “Shopping cart safety”

  1. It’s good to know that shopping cart covers don’t only protect kids from germs but they provide the babies with padding as well. I think a lot of parents fail to recognize this at first when they go shopping. I am going to be a dad soon and I don’t want to make that mistake so I’ll go buy a grocery cart cover.

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