Whenever you go out with your baby, you make sure they’re safe and comfortable. That’s easy when you’re going on a walk because you can use your stroller or baby carrier. But what about shopping? Strollers and baby carriers aren’t ideal unless you’re getting one small item (and when do you ever leave a store with just one thing?).
Really, you can put an infant carrier in a shopping cart whenever you want. It’s not so much when that matters; it’s how you put the car seat in the cart.
Infant car seats aren’t designed to sit on shopping carts. The child seat of a cart is for a child to sit on, not for you to set a car seat on. There’s no way to secure a car seat, and the extra weight makes the cart off-balanced and could cause the car seat to fall off or the cart to tip over. No parent wants that.
You could put your infant carrier in the grocery cart, but think about the size of one compared to the inside of a cart. Where will you put all the groceries? Or maybe a more important question, how do you keep the infant carrier from slamming into the cart when you have to suddenly stop because a toddler darts out in front of you?
The safest and smartest way to shop with your baby, whether he’s a newborn or a few months old, is with a shopping cart hammock. This type of hammock is safe and comfortable for your baby and convenient and effective for you. It’s designed to securely attach to a shopping cart and securely hold up to 50 pounds, meaning you can lay your baby or use the included safety straps to secure your infant carrier into the hammock.
Your baby can finally ride in the seat of a shopping cart once she has strong head and neck control and can steadily sit up on her own for at least the length of a shopping errand. When will that happen? It depends on your baby.
The stages of sitting vary for each child. Typically around 3-4 months old a baby can hold her head up on her own. Then around 6 months, a baby should be able to sit up alone for a few seconds at a time. It usually isn’t until around 8 or 9 months that babies can sit well without support for several minutes at a time. Babies develop on their own time, though, so your baby could be ready sooner or later than this. You know your baby and her development best, so you’ll know when she’s ready to sit in the seat of a shopping cart. Just keep in mind it’s one thing to be a good sitter on your stationary floor at home; it’s another to do it while riding in a moving shopping cart. Plus, the lap belts in carts aren’t always the most supportive, and you shouldn’t be worrying about a wobbly baby while shopping.
Shopping carts come in different sizes and styles. You’d think they’d all be stable and safe, but that’s not always the case. Before putting your baby in a shopping cart, whether on a shopping cart hammock or in the child seat, double-check that the cart is safe and reliable and your baby is snug and secure.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers other shopping cart safety rules you should follow when putting a baby in a shopping cart, like never leaving your child alone in a shopping cart and not letting older children climb or ride on the outside of the cart so it doesn’t tip over.