Sometimes I work up the courage to politely approach the mother, oogle over the baby, and politely sneak in some safety education about car seats and shopping carts. Sometimes I find myself with a shocked parent who asks more questions and is thankful, and other times I'm received with, "well, the air we breathe is dangerous too." I guess they just don't think something can happen to them or their child. Hopefully it never does, but not all parents are that lucky.
You hear reports of children falling and getting seriously injured. You hear reports of children dying because of these shopping cart injuries... and still, we have parents doing this same action over and over again.
I decided a while back that I need to do something about this. Something more than just approaching (again, politely) parents in the store. This isn't going to stop with parents being educated, obviously. Some simply don't think it applies to them. This isn't going to stop with car seat manufactures putting warnings in the owner manuals (as they are already there! See page 12 of this PDF for GRACO.) It's going to stop when stores stop letting it happen.
I am in no way, shape, or form saying that the stores are responsible for these accidents. They aren't. There is no way the store could be responsible for the action of the parent (educated or not) to place a seat atop a shopping cart. The store can, however, prevent these accidents from occurring in the first place by simply not allowing parents to place infant carriers on top of seats anymore.
Yes, this will be greeted with anger and hostility at first (by customers), but the store can always provide a small paper at their courtesy desk with facts on these dangers if parents want to cause a big stink about it. The arguing will fade with time, and the injuries on store property will drop drastically. I think the store would rather have a few customers griping at them over a few serious injuries (or even fatalities) that were completely preventable.
So what can you do to shop with an infant more safely? If you don't have another person to watch the child or to go shopping with you (so they could push the child in the infant carrier in the stroller it was sold with (or in the stroller alone), there are still options. While it's not recommended to place the infant carrier in the basket of the shopping cart (where you put the bulk of your merchandise), this is MUCH SAFER than placing the carrier on top of the basket. So long as you make sure you are not piling merchandise higher than the lip of the carrier so that nothing has the potential to fall on your child, this is a safer alternative to placing the child on top in the carrier.
Another option is to wear your baby. There are many options out there for carrying your child for all sizes/ages (up to about 40 lbs), so it won't matter if your child is no longer a newborn. We still wear Bobble on those days where we just can't keep up with him! There are all sorts of carrier styles from slings and wraps to structured carriers. Just make sure to check the weight limit on the carrier before you use it!
For those of you who want to help get stores to take action, I will include a generic letter that you have permission to copy, fill in with the appropriate information (like the name of the retailer, the date, etc.), and can send to the retailers of your choice. I'm hoping we can get at least one big-name retailer to take notice and change their policy.... if one does it, maybe the rest will follow suit. Please join me in this endeavour to protect all little ones from preventable injuries (or worse!)! I will include a small list of contacts to send the letter to (by whatever means you wish: email, fax, USPS, etc) to get you started. You can also look up the store/retailer of your choice online and find a place to send it via their "Contact Us" Section, or do a search in Google for "CONTACT (STORE NAME) CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS".
Walmart Home Office
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716-8611
(online submission form )
2929 Walker Ave., NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49544-9424
([choose store, not meijer.com]: online submission form )
Kroger Corporate Headquarters
1014 Vine Street Cincinnati, OH 45202
Target Corporate Headquarters
1000 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(online submission form)
There are so many retailers I can't really list them all, nor could I know them all since the major stores vary by location throughout the country. Local or large-scale, any change is a start!
Disclosure: The letter below was written by Christine from Thoughts Of Fluff. This letter IS available for public use. Please feel free to copy this letter and send it to the retailer(s) of your choice.
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to my attention that many customers in your store are demonstrating unsafe practices of shopping cart use in regards to infant car seats. Many injuries, and even deaths, have resulted from these unsafe practices, and even the manufacturers of these infant car seats have placed warnings within owner manuals to (quote) "NEVER PLACE carrier in top of shopping cart." (Graco Infant Safety Seat/Carrier owners manual, page 12 http://www.gracobaby.com/Instruction%20Manuals/archive/413-11-00.pdf ).
The American Academy of Pediatrics ( http://www.aap.org/ ) found that approximately 23,000 children are treated in a hospital each year for injuries from shopping carts, and that the majority are to the head and neck.
I strongly believe that, with your company's help, the number of preventable injuries can be greatly reduced. By instating a policy that no longer approves of customers placing infant carriers on the top of shopping cart baskets, not only will injuries decrease, but you'll be setting a great example for other retailers to follow. There are plenty of studies and statements available stating that this practice is unsafe, so please stop allowing it to continue in your store.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this important safety matter.
____________ (PHONE NUMBER)
____________ (E-MAIL ADDRESS)