Shopping Cart Safety

Parents take their children with them on shopping trips every day. However, it is difficult to look at the shelves and closely watch a child at the same time, and thousands of children are injured every year from riding in shopping carts. Injuries can and do happen in the time it takes for you to reach for something on the shelf. Knowing the risks and following shopping cart safety tips can help to prevent injuries while at the store.

Shopping Cart-Related Injuries

  • Close to 66 children are treated in emergency departments for shopping cart-related injuries every day.
  • Injuries are most likely to occur when children fall from the cart or when the cart tips over.
  • Serious injuries such as concussions and broken bones, or even death, can occur.
  • Head and neck injuries are common shopping cart-related injuries.

Alternatives to Shopping Carts

  • If possible, leave children at home with another adult or bring another adult to the store with you to watch children.
  • Use a stroller or wagon instead of the shopping cart to transport your child.
  • If the child is old enough, ask him to walk with you.
  • If one is available, use the child care area at the store.

Shopping Cart Safety Tips

If you choose to put your child in a shopping cart while you are shopping:

  • Use a cart that has a child seat that is low to the ground, if one is available.
  • Choose carts that appear stable and are not wobbly.
  • Always use the shopping cart safety straps. Be sure the belt fits snugly around your child and that the child’s legs are placed through the leg openings.
  • Avoid placing infant carriers on top of shopping carts.  If your child is not old enough to sit upright by himself in the shopping cart seat, consider using one of the alternatives to shopping carts.
  • Only place children in the shopping cart seat. The outside, the bottom, and the basket of the cart are not safe places for children to ride.
  • Stay with the cart and your child at all times.
  • Make sure your child remains seated.
  • Keep children away from the wheels where little fingers can get pinched.
  • Recognize that it is very easy for older children to tip a cart over if they are trying to push it or if they are hanging on it.

Additional Shopping Cart Safety Resources

  • Pediatric shopping-cart-related injuries treated in US emergency departments, 1990-2011
  • Shopping-cart-related injuries to children
  • Improving safety-restraint use by children in shopping carts: evaluation of a store-based safety intervention
  • Injuries to children related to shopping carts
  • Epidemiology of shopping cart-related injuries to children. An analysis of national data for 1990 to 1992