Letting your kid ride in a shopping cart seems like a convenience, not a danger. But shopping cart-related accidents send nearly 21,000 children under age 5 to the emergency room each year, mostly for head and neck injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Part of the problem lies in the cart's unbalanced design. "It's heavy and wide at the handlebar and gets lighter as the basket narrows," says Dr. Sheehan. "If your child stands in the cart or hitches a ride on the side or back, he can easily tip it over."
- Keep your kid out of the basket. Buckle her into the fold-down seat of the cart instead (just make sure the safety belt works). Better yet, choose a cart that seats children in front and low to the ground, if one is available. Some are designed as cars and trucks so that little shoppers will happily stay put. And if your child does happen to fall out of one of these, she's less likely to be seriously injured.
- Never allow your child to ride on the side or back of the cart. Letting her push it may also lead to accidents.
- Don't place your baby carrier on top of the cart. The weight of the carrier may make it tip over.
- Always stay within arm's reach of your child when you go shopping -- it only takes a second for her to fall or a cart to tip while your back is turned.