August 9, 2006 -- Many parents go to the store with their kids and don't think twice about putting their little ones in the cart while they shop. But the nation's top doctors say this is a dangerous behavior that parents should try to avoid.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new recommendation that parents consider alternatives to placing their kids in shopping carts, until carts are redesigned to prevent injury.
Shopping cart-related injuries are common: In 2005, more than 24,000 kids were treated in emergency rooms for these types of injuries, according to the AAP. Most of the injuries occurred when a child fell from the shopping cart, the cart tipped over, the child became entrapped in the cart, or the child fell while riding on the outside of the cart.
The most common shopping cart-related injuries were to the head and neck, which accounted for 74 percent of injuries among children younger than 15.
So what's a parent to do? Instead of putting your little one in a shopping cart, the AAP says you should:
- Get another adult to come with you to watch your kids while shopping.
- Put children in strollers, wagons, or frontpacks instead of in shopping carts.
- Ask older children to walk and praise them for behaving and staying nearby.
- Leave children at home with another adult.
- Shop online if local stores offer shopping on the Internet.
What if these alternatives are not available to you? If you do take your child along to the grocery store, the AAP says you should ensure that the child is properly secured in an effective and age- and size-appropriate belt or harness. Also, you should never:
- Leave a child alone in a shopping cart.
- Allow a child to stand-up in a shopping cart.
- Place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.
- Allow a child to ride in the basket.
- Allow a child to ride on the outside of a cart.
- Allow an older child to climb on the cart or push the cart with another child inside.
In addition to asking parents to be safer when shopping, the AAP is calling on businesses to adopt shopping cart safety strategies and offer other assistance to help prevent injury, including providing a supervised in-store child-play area and customer incentives, such as stickers or other giveaways, to reward safe shopping cart behavior. The AAP is also recommending that the current U.S. safety standards for shopping carts be revised.
What do you think about the AAP's new policy? Do you take your kids with you to the supermarket and place them in the cart? Have you ever had a problem? Share your thoughts on our message board below:
Plus, don't get caught in an emergency. Additional resources from Parents.com: