Car Seats & Shopping Carts: A Dangerous Combo

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Parents use infant car seats as more than just car seats. Babies are often carried in these seats, ride in them on stroller frames, sit in them atop shopping carts, and nap in them while in the house and on the go.

A 2010 study in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that nearly 10,000 babies in the US are injured each year in their infant car seats NOT in crashes, but rather while using the seats outside of the car.  

1 in 10 of these babies were injured severely enough that they had to spend at least 1 night in the hospital.  

Of the injuries, 85% were related to falls – 65% of the infants fell out of the car seat, 15% fell from elevated surfaces (with shopping carts, tables, and counters being the most common surfaces).


  1. Anytime your baby is in the car seat — be it in the car, on the stroller, in your house — the harness straps must be BUCKLED and SNUG. When unbuckled, the baby can fall out of the seat – which is a frequent source of head injury. Besides falling out of the seat, there are 2 other hazards to being loosely buckled or unbuckled: 1. the child can get its neck caught in the straps and strangle and 2. the child’s head can fall into a position that is difficult for breathing and can stop breathing. 
  2. Anytime your baby is in the car seat, the car seat should either be in the car, on the stroller – or ON THE FLOOR. Never put the car seat on a shopping cart, restaurant high chair, counter top, bed, crib, sofa, table, bench, etc – as the car seat can fall from these raised surfaces. If you bring the car seat into the store, put the car seat IN the basket of the shopping cart… rather than on top of the shopping cart. It is dangerous to put a car seat on top of a soft surface like a bed, sofa, or even in the baby’s own crib – as the car seat can overturn and babies have suffocated like this. 

This video shows a baby who got LUCKY… most babies aren’t so lucky to have a store employee catch them as they fall out of the car seat from the top of the shopping cart. This baby wouldn’t have gotten into this pickle had the parent 1. buckled the child’s straps AND 2. not put the car seat on top of the cart. Put the car seat IN the shopping cart’s basket— not ON the shopping cart.

With regard to the Safe-Dock by SafeStrap… while it is better than having the car seat atop a standard shopping cart since it provides a way to secure the car seat to the cart, it still leaves open the possibility for serious head injury as it requires the parent to do 2 things… which are not always done – namely the parent must buckle the car seat into the cart AND keep the child buckled into the car seat.

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Parikh S, Wilson L. Hazardous Use of Car Seats Outside the Car in the United States, 2003–2007 Pediatrics. 2010;126:352-357.


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