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Shopping Cart Safety

Hidden Dangers


Updated March 27, 2011

Like falling televisions and the risk of backing over a child with an SUV, shopping cart injuries are a hidden danger in the sense that many parents simply don't think that shopping carts are a real hazard to their kids. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 'shopping cart-related injuries to children are common and can result in severe injury or even death.'

In fact, over 24,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for shopping cart related injuries in 2005, most for injuries to their head and neck. Specific injuries included fractures, contusions, and lacerations.

Children in shopping carts can be hurt, for example, if the shopping cart tips over or if they:

  • fall out of the shopping cart
  • fall off the outside of the shopping cart
  • get entrapped in a shopping cart
  • get run over by a shopping cart
  • get struck by a shopping cart

Shopping Cart Safety

To keep your kids safe when shopping, if you are going to place your child in a shopping cart, it can help to:
  • use the shopping cart seat belt
  • never allow your child to stand up in the shopping cart, ride in the front basket, or ride on the outside of the shopping cart
  • always supervise your child when she is in the shopping cart and don't leave her unattended, even for just a few minutes. This is especially important if you have more than one child with you, since an older sibling can easily tip the shopping cart over if he tries to push it, climb inside, or get something out of the shopping cart.
  • never place your infant carrier on top of the shopping cart, which may make it more likely to tip over
  • use a shopping cart that is designed for young children, including larger, special models that have separate seats for kids
Even better than placing your child in a shopping cart though, especially if you have more than one child with you while shopping, you might look for an alternative to using shopping carts, which can include a supervised play area, putting your child in a stroller, backpack, wagon, etc., or simply have your older toddler or preschooler walk.

If possible, you might also try to get somebody to watch your kids while you are shopping so that you don't even have to bring them to the store with you.

Keep in mind that the AAP now states that 'parents are strongly encouraged to seek alternatives to transporting their child in a shopping cart until an effective revised performance standard for shopping cart safety is implemented in the United States,' so they are basically saying that you really shouldn't place your child in a shopping cart any longer.

Hopefully, shopping cart safety design changes that are being called for by the AAP will also make a big difference in the future.


AAP Policy Statement. Shopping Cart-Related Injuries to Children. PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 2 August 2006, pp. 825-827

AAP Technical Report. Shopping Cart-Related Injuries to Children. PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 2 August 2006, pp. e540-e544

AAP Parent Page. Shopping Cart Safety. PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 2 August 2006, pp. e545-e546

Consumer Product Safety Alert. Falls from Shopping Carts Cause Head Injuries to Children

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