Grocery shopping with a little one — especially a squirmy baby or curious, active toddler — comes with plenty of challenges. Pint-sized supermarket companions can be grabby, hyper, or even do a disappearing act on you while you’re reading the label on that cereal box — none of which makes shopping any fun for you.
Containing your cutie in a shopping cart is often the easiest, fastest way to get what you need and get out. But be aware that babies and kids (especially those aged 5 and under) can be injured by shopping carts, either from falls or cart tip-overs — and many of those injuries are to the head and neck, which can be serious. Follow these do’s and don’ts at the supermarket to ensure that your sweetie stays safe and sound:
DO use safety straps. Whether your child is in a built-in baby seat, a toddler seat at the front of the cart, a two-kid bench seat, or a plastic car or truck seat, always make sure that the seat has functioning safety straps. Then use them.
DON’T ever leave your child unattended. Stay within arm’s reach — even when your child is securely strapped in.
DON’T let your child ride in the basket. Riding in a shopping cart next to a package of raw meat or poultry can expose your darling to salmonella and campylobacter infection. Keep your child in the seat — not the basket — and always place meat in a plastic bag.
DO keep your child seated. Allowing your toddler to stand in the cart (or sit on the edge of the basket) is risky, as she could easily fall. Another no-no: Don’t balance your baby’s car seat on the top of the cart’s toddler seat. If you need to take the car seat into the store, bring your own stroller base and skip the cart (use the stroller’s cargo basket for your groceries). Or put the car seat in the cart’s large basket — just be careful about the groceries you put alongside it.
DO consider wearing your baby in a carrier or sling. That way, she stays safe and you have your hands free to push the cart and pick up your items. Or, if you’re only getting a few things, shop with your baby in her stroller and load your groceries into the stroller’s cargo basket underneath the seat. Just be sure not to overload a hanging net bag that could cause your stroller to tip back.
DON’T let toddlers or preschoolers ride on the side or push the cart by themselves. If your little one is riding alongside the cart or pushing the cart by himself, it can easily tip over and injure your child. If your child resists sitting in the cart’s built-in seat, try having him push his own kid-sized cart. This gives him the opportunity to help you (kids love feeling like they are contributing) and to learn words, shapes and colors.
DO use a cart cover or wipe down surfaces, and keep raw meat away from children. Since riding in a shopping cart next to raw meat or poultry can expose your baby or toddler to salmonella and campylobacter infection, use the disposable wipes offered at the entrance of your supermarket. And, again, keep your child in the seat instead of the basket, and place meat in a plastic bag.