Stroller and cart safety for babies and young children
Taking your child out of the house allows him or her to have new experiences and interactions. You may start using a stroller as soon as your baby is born and continue to do so well into early childhood. You may also want your child to ride in a shopping cart when you visit stores. Only use well-maintained strollers and carts, and take some general precautions to avoid injuring your child:1
- Never leave your child unattended in a stroller.
- Securely fasten any toys or bumpers you use with your stroller so they don't fall on your child. Remove these items as soon as your child can sit or get up on all fours.
- Make sure releases and hinges are out of reach of your child, especially if the stroller is collapsible. Always lock the release mechanism before putting your child in the stroller. Keep your child at a safe distance when you are collapsing the stroller.
- Strap your child in securely so he or she cannot lean out.
- Use a stroller with easy-to-operate brakes. The stroller should also have a wide base so it won't easily tip over.
- Prevent the stroller from tipping over. Don't hang items, such as shopping bags, from the stroller handles. Carrying baskets should be placed low, near the rear wheels.
- Twin strollers should have a single, long footrest that extends across both seats. Separate footrests can trap feet.
Most injuries from shopping carts involve children younger than 5 years. Fractures, internal injuries, and concussions are the most common injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the design of shopping carts be changed to help prevent cart tip-overs and falls from carts. Until shopping carts are safer, the AAP strongly recommends not to use them. Other options include using supervised in-store child play areas, taking another adult with you to watch your child while you shop, or using a stroller or wagon instead of a shopping cart.
If you choose to have your child ride in a shopping cart, children should not:2
- Be left unattended.
- Be allowed to stand up in the cart.
- Ride in the large basket of the shopping cart.
- Ride on the outside of the cart.
Carriers designed to sit on top of the cart or built into it do not prevent a child from falling out. Avoid accidents by properly restraining your child at all times in a cart, and do not leave your child unattended, even for a moment.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2004). Keeping your child safe. In SP Shevlov, RE Hannemann, eds., Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 4th ed., pp. 423–470. New York: Bantam.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2006). Shopping cart-related injuries to children. Pediatrics, 118(2): 825–827. Also available online: http://aap.org/family/ShoppingCartPolicy.pdf.
Last Updated: February 26, 2009
Author: Debby Golonka, MPH