Before you had a baby, your biggest question when grocery shopping was probably whether to choose plastic or paper bags. But if you’re a new mom, a trip to the supermarket can suddenly feel overwhelming: How to carry your newborn while pushing a shopping cart? Can you use a stroller in the store?
I know it can be intimidating, that’s why this article is all about how to grocery shop with a newborn or toddler, complete with tips to make it easier.
This article is not a substitute for medical advice.
How Do You Go Grocery Shopping With An Infant?
You may have had lots of support from friends and family those first weeks after baby arrived.
But now your little one is a month old and perhaps your husband has returned to work and you have to manage caring for your newborn baby and complete essential errands.
Grocery shopping with a newborn? Yes, it’s just a basic errand, but it can feel like a big deal for a first time mom to go grocery shopping with baby.
There are four methods include the grocery cart itself, babywearing or creatively using your stroller for grocery shopping with a baby.
Can You Put Car Seat In Grocery Cart?
First off: Can you just prop the car seat on top of a grocery cart?
Please Mama, do not do this! It is not safe.
A small bump can easily make the cart off-balance and send your car seat (and your precious baby!) crashing to the ground. A small bump in the parking lot might be the thing that tips your shopping cart over, so don’t risk it!
Keep your child safe and consider other alternatives instead.
Car Seat Locked In Place On The Front Of The Shopping Cart
This is still unsafe. A shopping cart is not designed to hold a baby car seat at the front and the weight makes the cart unstable and easily tipped.
Placing Car Seat Inside The Main Cart, Not Over The Front
This is certainly much more stable but doesn’t allow much room for your actual grocery items. Plus, there are no straps to secure the car seat in place so it is still not a safe solution.
Car Seat Docking Mounts – Is It A Safe Solution?
You may have seen some supermarkets that have carts with special docking mounts for infant car seats. The majority of these docks are safe, as long as they fit with your car seat.
How’s the balance and weight distribution with the docking base?
Safe docks direct the weight of the infant car seat over the basket area of the cart, not only toward the front. This is important to ensure that the cart remains balanced.
If you use a docking mount, always lock your infant car seat into the dock and secure the strap around your car seat. Also, keep your child in their secure seat harness, do not unclip it while shopping.
Is there a better way to carry a baby in a grocery store? Answer: by wearing your baby!
Babywearing is a great option for grocery shopping with a newborn. Not only does it keep them safe and calm against your body, but it keeps your hands free to actually do the shopping, too.
One thing you should consider when baby wearing is if you can put on your baby carrier solo. I have a whole post about the best baby carriers to put on by yourself if you need help choosing one.
Types Of Baby Carriers: Wraps vs. Ring Slings vs. Soft-Structured Carriers
Wraps are a wonderful way to carry your baby and be hands-free, but you have to keep in mind how to put the wrap on. Many wraps are incredibly long and might brush the ground as you wrap them, so be prepared to tie on your warp before leaving the house.
Then, you can pop baby in the wrap in the parking lot, without making your wrap dirty.
My favorite baby wrap, that is easiest to tie around your body is Solly Baby (review).
If you feel like tying a long wrap would be too difficult for you, there’s a great alternative: the Baby K’tan Wrap Carrier, which you put on like a T-shirt!
Soft structured carriers are a great option for babywearing at the grocery store, too. Some of them are easy to put on by yourself, especially if you are carrying your child in a front-carry position.
My favorite carriers are the Ergobaby Embrace and the Ergobaby 360 Mesh.
WildBird Ring Slings are a great, easy to use option too, because it takes only a few seconds to put them on and place the baby inside! Beside, you put the ring sling before going to grocery shop with a baby, and wear it like a “scarf” when you’re driving.
|PRO TIP: Remember, newborns need proper head and neck support and should only be in front-facing (inward-facing) carriers until they have good neck control.|
Using A Shopping Cart Hammock
Have you seen a portable hammock that fits securely across a shopping cart?
The newborn shopping cart hammock lets your little one recline while you shop, and doesn’t take up cart space, leaving with plenty of room under the hammock for you to put produce and groceries.
The shopping cart hammock fits the regular shopping carts you will find at most grocery stores.
Although it can hold up to 50 lbs, it’s designed for young infants who are not yet sitting up. Some moms reported that by the time babies were 4-5 months old their babies were getting too long for the shopping cart hammock.
Some parents raved about this hammock, but it isn’t my favorite product for the following reasons:
- It is only suitable for younger babies, so you won’t be able to use it long-term;
- It doesn’t fit all types of shopping carts. It fits the majority of Wal-mart and Target sized carts, but even then, there can be challenges getting the hammock taut enough (you don’t want it sagging);
- If it doesn’t fit properly, or if your baby is too big for it, it poses a suffocation hazard for your little one because of a chin-to-neck position that can close off the airway.
This last danger is a serious one, and frankly, it makes me hesitate to use this product when there are alternative options.
How To Grocery Shop With A Baby – Shopping With Baby Stroller
If you only have a few items to pick up at the grocery store, you might be comfortable using the baby stroller and ditching the cart or basket altogether.
If your stroller has a storage area underneath, then you can keep your baby in the stroller while you grocery shop (extra points if they continue napping!).
You might not be able to get a whole week’s worth of groceries under there, but you could top up on a few essentials if you are in a pinch.
If you need to drive to the store, the best option is travel system stroller & infant car seat combo – just click the car seat onto the stroller and you’re good to go! You won’t have to move your baby from the car seat to the stroller seat (and disturb their nap!).
Keep in mind that small corner stores or some city grocery stores have smaller aisles, which may make it difficult for you to maneuver your stroller, or for other patrons to squeeze past you. For this reason, not all shops permit strollers.
If so, you might want to consider using a baby carrier and grabbing a shopping basket for those few small items.
When Can You Put Baby In Grocery Cart?
Your baby can sit in the seat of the grocery cart when they can sit up confidently. It is important not only that they can sit up, but that they are able to hold themselves while the cart is moving.
This is usually around 7-8 months old, but your baby may be sitting confidently earlier than that.
Always check the recommended weight range listed on the seat of the cart, and clip the straps closed to keep your baby safe.
Now, just because your child can sit in the seat alone does not mean that everything is safe – you have no idea what person used that cart before you!
Almost every grocery shop offers shopping carts with child seats on them, any number of people used that cart before you.
Mom, your baby will likely grab that rail and then immediately try to suck their own hands. You do not want all those nasty germs and potential viruses in their mouth!
Now, you could wipe down the hand rail, but then you risk your baby ingesting those cleaning chemicals. Or, you could check out the shopping cart cover that fits in the cart’s seat.
Using A Shopping Cart Cover
Here are the reasons why I like the shopping cart cover so much:
- It’s a barrier: this seat can save you the worry of your child having contact with the publicly-used hand rail because it covers the rail entirely, your baby only touches the fabric;
- It is comfortable: the seat of the cart is hard and flat, this extra padding means your baby will be happier and more calm as you shop;
- Double-duty: this shopping cart cover works for high chairs too! If you eat at a restaurant, your child can play happily for longer, with the attached toys and more comfortable cushioning;
- It folds down small: you can keep it in your diaper bag;
- It’s machine washable: especially important if you use it as a high chair seat cover.
A downside, however, is that it is only suitable for babies who can sit up. You cannot use the seat cover with a new baby who cannot sit independently.
Can You Take A Newborn Grocery Shopping?
Here are some additional questions that parents usually have on how to grocery shop with a baby in the first few months.
Can You Take A Newborn Out Before Vaccinations?
Your baby will likely have several rounds of vaccinations before the age of two. It is okay to take them out of the house for regular outings or to the store before all their routine vaccinations, but if you have concerns, ask your doctor.
Can I Take My 3-week-old Shopping?
Yes, you can take a newborn shopping, but keep in mind boundaries with strangers. Mama, remember that it is okay to ask someone to not touch your newborn – and don’t feel bad about it!
Should You Take An Infant To The Grocery Store?
What about older infants, those who have passed that 3-months old mark? Should you take them to the store?
Going on regular outings provides positive stimulation for babies, and helps them learn about society and the world. While there are some considerations to keep in mind, if your child has no health concerns, taking them to the grocery store is perfectly fine.
However, if you want some “mom-time” away from your little one, don’t feel bad asking a friend to help with babysitting so you can take a quick trip to the supermarket.
Or, save yourself the hassle and order your groceries online! Grocery delivery is a great option, too.
There is no rule that you have to shop with a newborn or older baby, it can be stressful and there are plenty of other fun outings for you two to enjoy together.
Useful Tips For Making Shopping Trip With Baby Easier
To make sure your trip to the grocery store is a positive experience, here are a few shopping tips:
- Timing and age
When your infant is in the early newborn stage, they will likely sleep just fine during your trip to the store. If it’s easier to extend a nap in a baby carrier, by all means, do it! Let him or her get in a rest while you run errands.When your baby is a bit older, you may need to estimate naptime and go shopping while he or she is awake. Going when your 5-6 month old baby is wanting their regular rest might make the trip stressful for you both.
- Feed before you go
It is always a good idea to plan ahead to ensure your little one won’t be hungry during the shopping trip, because that might lead to a screaming baby later on. If you’re breastfeeding you might consider a feed in the car before heading to the store, and if you’re bottle-feeding don’t forget to pack formula and boiled water.
- Avoid the busiest times
A crowded store can be over-stimulating for some babies, and you are likely to take longer to shop and wait in line to pay, too. Maybe Saturday mornings aren’t the best time to head to Costco with your baby.Pick a time that is likely to be more quiet for an easier outing.
- Prepare your diaper bag
Yes, you will need to pack extra clothes and a few spare diapers, just in case of a blow out. Most stores have a public toilet for customers, and likely will have a baby changing table for you to use.
- Have a shopping list
Don’t forget any important items for your next week’s menu. I like to keep an electronic grocery list on my phone.
- Choose a good parking space
Some shops have a designated parking spot for new moms, but I think the best parking spot is actually right next to the shopping cart return stall. This makes it easy for me to return my cart with my baby in my arms and not have to walk very far. I always try to park near the return stalls.
- Make it quick
At least for those first few times, try to make your shopping trip a quick errand, until your child gets used to going on outings with you.
- Online shopping
If shopping feels overwhelming, you can always choose online shopping until you feel ready to venture out with your newborn.
The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.