- When your baby can sit unsupported for the length of the shopping trip, they can sit in a shopping cart
- Babies should only sit in the designated seat - never in the main part of the trolley
- A seat belt in good working condition should always be used, when you decide they can sit in a shopping cart
- Blankets or seat protectors can help your baby be more comfortable
- Use antibacterial wipes or hand sanitiser to clean parts of the trolley your baby can reach
From walking the dog, to going on holiday - much of life becomes a test of your logistical abilities once you have a baby - shopping included. No longer can you just “pop” to the shops for five minutes, or aimlessly browse the aisles at your leisure.
So there comes a time when you start to wonder, “when can your baby sit in a shopping cart?” After all, this would make things a little easier, right?
When can your baby sit in a shopping cart? Your baby can sit in a shopping cart once they are at least six months old, but more importantly - once they can sit unsupported for the length of the shopping trip.
There are a few more things to consider however, which we’ll explore further below, including:
- Use of seat belts
- The comfort of baby
- Cleanliness and germs
- How to keep baby happy in their seat
- Safety rules to follow
- Why you should never allow your baby in the main part of the trolley
- Whether there is a better alternative for you and your baby
- Why shopping is a good idea for you and baby
Shopping trolley seat belts
Shopping trolley seats should come with a seat belt to help keep your little one secure and safe. While the supermarkets or centres that own these trolleys are responsible for maintaining their condition, you should always check that:
- A seat belt is present
- It is in good working condition
- You must also use it appropriately
It’s important to note though, that these seat belts don’t offer any support like those you might be used to on your car seat or high chair. They are purely to prevent your baby from climbing or falling out, not to help them sit upright.
Shopping trolley comfort
As you know, shopping trolleys are made of hard metal bars, and the seat isn’t much more comfortable, being made of tough plastic. But, there are a couple of options for making the shopping cart more comfortable when the time is right, so that your baby can sit in it.
Firstly, you can bring a blanket with you to lay across the seat and cover some of the bars in front and behind.
Secondly, you can purchase padded seat covers that are purpose-made for shopping trolley seats. You’ll often be able to find these available at baby boutiques or handmade stores, in beautiful prints and colours.
These also help to address another issue that can arise with the use of shopping trolley seats - cleanliness. When baby can sit in a shopping cart, try using blankets and a protective seat cover to reduce the amount of shopping trolley surface area that your baby comes in direct contact with.
Cleanliness and germs of shopping trolleys
When your baby was born, you may have avoided the shops altogether, for fear of them coming in contact with germs and becoming sick. And while it’s important you have your baby’s wellbeing at heart, it’s unrealistic to expect to keep them away forever.
When it comes time that baby can sit in the shopping cart, you’re probably still concerned about germs and cleanliness. After all, shopping cart handles are notorious for being bacteria-infested , and the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us more alert to the presence of germs in public places.
While it’s rare, it is possible that children can contract dangerous viruses from sitting in a shopping trolley .
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to help keep them safe:
- As already mentioned, cover as much as possible with a blanket or protective seat cover
- Use antibacterial wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitiser to clean parts of the trolley within reach of your little one
- Wash your blanket or protective seat cover after every use
- Clean your own hands regularly with hand sanitiser
How to keep baby happy in their seat
- Play With Shopping - Give them something unexpected (but safe) to play with - one mum had success with an avocado !
- Give Snacks - Snacks are fantastic to keep them occupied if you have a kid who loves their food. If you’ve tried this, but it’s a bit hit and miss, you could choose something they just love to have as a special treat and only give it to them while you’re shopping.
- Drink Bottle - A favourite drink bottle - particularly one that they can flip the lid backwards and forwards on by themself, for instance.
- Help Shop - If you have a baby that loves to “help”, you can try handing them some items and letting them drop them into the cart below. It’s like they are helping you to shop.
- Bring Favourite Toy - Take a favourite toy - preferably one that can be hooked onto the cart so they don’t keep dropping it for you to pick up! Something that moves or sings can help keep them occupied (never mind if it’s a little annoying for other shoppers!).
- Be Prepared - Our top tip is to have access to all of these options. After all, the same thing might not work every time, and you want to be armed with a few alternatives. Sometimes a surprise is the thing that does the trick!
- Check Timing - And, like all other outings, it’s best to wait until your baby isn’t overtired, sick, in need of a nappy change or extremely hungry.
Shopping Trolley safety rules you should always follow
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when baby can sit in the shopping cart, you should always follow these safety rules :
- “Place your child in a safety belt or harness at all times when in a shopping cart.
- Never leave your child alone in a shopping cart.
- Do not let your child stand up in a shopping cart.
- Do not place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.
- Do not put your child in the basket.
- Never allow your child to ride on the outside of a cart.
- Do not allow an older child to climb on the cart or push the cart with another child in it, because it is very easy for a child to tip the cart over.”
Why can’t my baby sit in the main part of the trolley?
Children are regularly injured in shopping cart incidents - with approximately 23,000 being treated at emergency departments each year . This is usually when the cart tips over or a child falls from the cart. And there is serious risk, with most injuries occurring to the head and neck of the child .
Shopping trolleys were not designed for children to sit in the main part of the trolley. If your baby was to sit there, the cart would be at risk of becoming unbalanced and tipping over, particularly if they were to try and climb out. It is also possible that they may lose their balance, if the cart was bumped for example, and hit their head on the metal sides of the shopping trolley.
Is there a better alternative than a trolley seat for your baby
When your baby is very young, and not able to sit unsupported for the shopping trip, you may be able to use the capsule-like seats that some shopping trolleys are fitted with. Although it might be tempting, you must never put your own infant car capsule in, or balanced on top of a shopping trolley.
Alternatively, you can have your baby in your pram and either use the pram’s undercarriage to carry your groceries, or carry a basket and push the pram one-handed. This is great if you only need a few items.
A baby carrier or sling is also a fantastic option if you use it safely . It keeps your hands free and you can push a trolley to do a full-size shop if you need to. You also don’t need to be worried about germs and cleanliness (except for your own hands) if you choose to use a baby carrier.
The benefits of going shopping with your baby
Once you have a baby, shopping may not be as easy as it used to be. And some people will find it much less stressful to order their groceries online and have them delivered. However, there are some real benefits to getting out of the house and getting the shopping done with baby in tow.
Firstly, it’s good for babies to experience a world outside of their own home. Supermarket shelves are packed full of interesting things to look at, not to mention being exposed to new people.
Secondly, it’s good for you and your wellbeing. Even if it doesn’t always go to plan, it’s good for you to be doing things you used to do, and it gives you the chance to have a quick chat with someone other than your little darling.
So, when you decide baby is ready, and can sit in the shopping cart, try to see the shopping for what it can be: a fun little outing for you both.