When I had my son more than 10 years ago, the rules of safety were far different than they are now. Car seats went front-facing at a year, kids ditched them altogether pretty early, and sleep positioners were still very much a thing. But when we know better, we do better, and all of these practices have gone the way of the dodo. It's the same with the one common grocery store danger that you may be missing, except this one seems to be trying to outstay its welcome.
Going to the grocery store with your baby in a car seat can be a real pain. I mean, what do you do with them? Do you put them up in the front on the seat? The answer is no. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), setting your baby's car seat in the seat of the grocery cart is not safe. When you put the baby in the car seat in the seat, the risk of fall is extreme. According to Safe Ride News, not only has this practice led to more than 21,000 falls per year resulting in injury, there has also, unfortunately, been at least one infant death due to a tip and fall. Putting them in the basket seems a better option, but the AAP recommended that children not be placed in there either. (They don't specifically mention the car seat in this scenario, so they may mean children who could stand or topple out. Err on the side of caution.)
According to the research center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, more than 66 children are injured from grocery cart related injuries every day. They documented that "falls from a shopping cart accounted for the majority of injuries (70.4 percent)." That means that from the 22 to 24,000 injuries that happen, that almost 17,000 of them are due to falls. Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in his report that even with greater safety measures and warnings provided, the number of injuries is still on the rise. He noted that "the number of concussions and closed head injuries is actually increasing. It is time we take action to protect our children by strengthening shopping cart safety standards with requirements that will more effectively prevent tip-overs and falls from shopping carts.”
It happens in the blink of an eye. At least it did for Pari Singh, 31 as she took her baby brother, then just 5 months old, to do the shopping some years ago at a popular British chain grocery store. At the time, her brother's car seat had a feature that was supposed to "click" onto the shopping cart, she tells Romper. (This no longer exists on any model.) As she was shopping, her two step brothers were playing at her feet. She went to fetch some milk from the shelf and somehow, the cart was tipped towards the refrigerated section and her brother's car seat fell out. He was hit with several falling milk containers, and he ended up with only soft-tissue damage. It could have been much worse.
Mom and volunteer firefighter and EMT, Lauren Bishop from Northeast Ohio, tells Romper that the one common grocery store danger that you may be missing isn't even clicking your car seat onto the top, but putting their car seat in the cart at all. "Car seats and shopping buggies don't mix. They can't be secured and move around too much to be safe," she says, adding that she knows there's no great way to grocery shop with a baby. It's just one of those crappy hurdles that you'll have to figure out while your baby is too small to sit unassisted in the shopping cart seat. For me, I tended to shop with my baby in a carrier because I needed both hands to check produce and rifle through my mom bag for pacifiers and the shopping list I inevitably forgot. But, until there's a better option, we're all just kind of stuck. Hopefully, someone will come up with something amazing to fix this problem.