Dear Fellow Mama in the Grocery Store,

Please know I am coming from a place of love and concern. I don’t share this photo lightly, and I definitely don’t share it to shame. I tried to make sure to remove as many identifying factors as I could. And I totally wanted to steal your Oreos and Pringles!

I saw you several times yesterday afternoon, as we both shopped the madhouse of the grocery store. It was the end of the day, and I was fried. I’m sure you were too. I tried to find the courage to come talk to you. I even snapped this photo and sent it to my husband so he’d encourage me to talk to you. But, in the end, my sleep deprivation vulnerability won, and this image has haunted me since.

Mama, it’s never safe to put a car seat in the seat section of a grocery cart. It knocks off the center of gravity in the cart, and one little bump could send your sweet babe and the carseat falling to the ground. I know it seems like the car seat fits perfectly into the shopping cart seat, sometimes even making a clicking noise. I know lots of people do it. We see it all the time, which just confirms in our minds that it must be safe.

But it isn’t. And the particular angle of your car seat had me extra concerned. I’ve never seen a car seat in such an upright position in the cart. I was so scared for your child. But, I also didn’t want you to feel judged, and I wasn’t sure that in my sleep-deprived state that I’d be able to convey my concern in the way I intended.

So, here I am, the next day, still haunted by this image, and I must reach out the only way I know how. See, I’ve had a baby die–not in this way, but I know the heartache of losing a child. I want to do everything I can to make sure no other parent feels that loss if I can at all help it.

Please, please know that I am not judging you. I would have done the same thing had my husband and I not had our car seat installed by a Certified Car Seat Technician, who also walked us through all the terrifying things that can happen when a car seat isn’t used as intended.

We’re all doing the best that we can. I can tell by the way you interacted with your baby that you are a GOOD mom. And I know that putting a bucket car seat in the main part of the shopping cart takes up all the space, leaving little room for groceries. It’s inconvenient. It just seems to make sense to put the car seat in the front. But, mama, I beg you, please don’t.

With love,

Fellow doing-her-best-mama, Valerie

Resources on Car Seat/Shopping Cart Safety

Ideas for shopping with an Infant

Ring Slingin’ it at the Market

There are some new products on the market which claim to be safer options. The Car Seat Lady isn’t crazy about the Safe-Dock by Safe-Strap, but she admits it’s a safer option than than the seat of the cart.

Another product I’ve seen a lot of buzz about lately is the Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock. It definitely seems to be a safer option and allows you to still fill the cart. I would also think it’s better for the center of gravity on the shopping cart. They seem to have done a significant amount of safety testing, so it’s worth giving it a try.

One thing I’ve seen recommended is to take smaller, more frequent shopping trips and fill the stroller. That one wouldn’t work for me, and I suspect it would be challenging for many busy moms. You can also bring another person along with you to push the stroller while you shop, or leave babe home with a sitter or partner. I know I sometimes love that hour of shopping by myself.

Honestly, though, my baby carriers saved me in those early days. In fact, I still wear my daughter in our Baby Tula if we’re running quick errands and I don’t want to pull out the stroller. For several months the ring sling was my savior, because I could also easily nurse in it.

Find what works best for you, and be safe, my friends!