Shopping Cart Dangers – By Yossi Siegel

One of the most horrifying calls I ever had as an EMT involved a two year old boy who had fallen 3 feet from a shopping cart, landing head first onto the concrete floor below. The child’s injuries were horrific and he is not expected to ever make a full recovery.

I feel compelled to write this article to help parents get educated on the potential dangers of children who ride shopping carts. The following facts are from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission:

• An annual average of 21,600 children 5 years old and younger were treated in US hospital emergency rooms for shopping cart injuries during the years 1985-1996

• A detailed analysis of the incidents during 1995 and 1996 showed that 66 percent of the fall victims were treated for head injuries (11,000 per year).

The ONLY safe place for a child in a shopping cart is in the child seat, properly secured with the buckle. A visit to any local supermarket will reveal 2, 3 even 4 children standing in the back of the cart, hanging off the side, even lying down on the cargo area under the cart. I routinely witness young children climbing, jumping and swinging on carts, often with no parent in sight.

A quick lesson in physics: An object that weighs 30 pounds (your child), that falls 3 feet (distance from shopping cart to ground), will hit the ground with 475 pounds of force. Or to put it another way, it would be the same as hitting the child over the head with 15 cinderblocks. This makes it abundantly clear that shopping cart safety is no laughing matter. I understand it is difficult to control 3-4 children when shopping, however other solutions must be explored. Not a day passes without some story about someone dying in a tragic accident. With so much in this world out of our control, let’s control the things that we can. Keep our children safe!

One last note – if you have your child in an infant carrier, and must put him in the shopping cart, DO NOT place the car seat on top. Place the car seat securely inside the cart. The seat is not strapped in and with its high center of gravity can fall off the cart with even the slightest jolt. TLS.

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  1. Great points, but many of the infant seats actually clip to top of the shopping cart. So while what you are saying is 100% true, many infant seats are more or less safe to put on most carts.

  2. Those seats arent actually clipped into the cart. Those clips are made to snap the car seat into the base thats in your car. Putting that onto a shopping cart and looking like its snapped in, doesn’t make it safe and secure. Dont try and look for shortcuts when your children are involved. If you have multiple children going shopping with you and you cant safely transport them around the store, reschedule your shopping trip or leave them at home with a babysitter. Besides being incredibly unsafe, it gives a very bad name to the community as a whole.

  3. reprinted from

    The American Academy of Pediatrics Makes It Clear

    The American Academy of Pediatrics put it clearly: “Parent and caregivers should never place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.” The AAP goes on to say that over 24,000 children were treated in U.S. hospitals for shopping cart related injuries last year.

    If you’re in the habit of putting your car seat on top of the cart you may be wondering why it isn’t safe. After all, you can clip the seat onto the cart and it seems stable. The fact is that the cart is not made for a car seat and it makes the cart even more likely to tip over. The safest infant car seat can’t protect your child if he’s falling hard to a cement floor.

    Since you did your homework on infant car seat safety before buying the safest car seat you could find, why wouldn’t it protect your child even if they fall from a shopping cart? The fact is that their injury will probably be worse because of the car seat.

    Children are just like the rest of us in that they have a natural reflex to right and protect themselves when falling. When a child is strapped into a car seat however, they aren’t able to perform any protective maneuver. Therefore the injury they sustain could be much worse than if they weren’t in a seat at all.

    The fact is that the car seat makes the fall even harder because of its weight. Infant car seat safety has nothing to do with riding in a shopping cart.

  4. To #4- nicely said. That is the reason why I never take my baby shopping with me if I need to use a shopping cart. I schedule those trips when I can leave him with someone or when my husband is available to babysit.

  5. i shop all the stores up and down rt9. i’ve seen this all the time, today i was in target and saw at least 6 people doing a balancing act with there kids hanging off shopping carts. they are the first to sue, when one of their offspring hit the floor.

  6. I appreciate this post and comments because I’ve been doing this thinking the seat was clipped in, and of course I will now refrain from doing so. My question for all you helpful people out there is how do I go shopping with multiple children when I work during babysitting hours, don’t have a husband home during the afternoon and evening, and can’t afford to pay a high school girl $10 an hour to babysit so I can shop? I would love to hear some ideas from some other mommies in the same boat…

  7. a great piece of writing—-( im biased–he’s my son-in-law)!—-please write again about the dangers of leaving a young child in a highchair–while the parent places an order for food at the many restaurants in town—ive saved a few broken bones while trying to eat my own meal!!!

  8. I understand your situation. Its not east shopping with multiple children. Target has two seater carts. If you have more than two children, you dont have options regarding carts. Perhaps if enough people speak to the manager of Target or Walmart, they can get carts for more than two children, if that exists. Perhaps a good business idea for someone would be to have some play area in target or walmart, with the stores cooperation of course. Children could be left there with a babysitter while you shop. The store could offer that as a free service to the customers. I know supermarkets like Wegmans has something like this already

  9. You might find some carts with non working buckles, but every store I have been to has carts with straps that work. You may just have to hunt for one, but it is worth the time, knowing your loving child will be safe and secure.

  10. How about your husband goes out alone and does the shopping while you stay home and watch the kids? OR, he stays home and watches the kids, while you go shopping? If you are a singe mother, then I apologize.

  11. to #13 i would like to know where u shop ? the local stores if u find a shopping cart that the wheels work u r lucky let alone having straps & buckles

  12. i never do this and get so worried when i see other poplee do it! i always put my son in the large part of the cart and use the small part for things i need to buy (or husband comes along and someone carries our son). i just make shorter (but more frequent) shopping trips.i also don’t like when in restaurants they flip over the high chairs to put the car seats in…that makes me very nervous! its not as far to fall as in a shopping cart but still a fall! my son usually cries to be out of his car seat unless he is sleeping, then we ask for a booth, and wedge him in between the seat and table.

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