SAN ANTONIO -- If you are a parent, chances are you've done this: to make grocery shopping easier with baby, you take your infant car seat out of the car, and snap it on top of the shopping cart. After all, if it can protect your baby in a car accident, it should keep them secure on a slow-moving cart, right?
If you go to any grocery store, you're likely to see well-intentioned parents pushing shopping carts down the aisles with their babies perched on top of the carts in infant car seats.
Deanna Siu and her husband were doing just that one day last December at a Sam's Club on I-10 and De Zavala. Deanna's husband was pushing the cart with their infant son Joseph in a car seat on top, while the couple's' other child, a toddler, walked alongside. The toddler then suddenly jostled the cart that was holding baby Joseph.
"And my husband turned around for one second. I'm not even sure why he turned around, but just briefly. And as soon as he did we just heard a thump. I turned around and the baby and car seat were on the floor... I thought he was dead. He was face down just lying there", Deanna recalled after the accident.
The couple immediately rushed Joseph to the emergency room. A C.T. scan revealed the infant had bleeding in his brain.
But fortunately, after two days in the hospital, the bleeding stopped, and Joseph made a full recovery.
San Antonio pediatrician Valeska Gonzalez says accidents like that happen all the time. Few parents realize that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, car seats and shopping carts should never be used together.
Dr. Gonzalez says, "Although it is convenient to put the baby's car seat on a shopping cart, it's not a safe practice."
Many parents assume their car seats are safe on a cart, because there is often a latching mechanism on the bottom of the seat that attaches to the base in the car. That latch can appear to "click" on to the top of a shopping cart. But it is not designed to do that, and the latch does not hold the seat securely to the cart.
Deanna Siu says she thought her son's car seat was latched securely in place the day of his accident, but it came loose.
You may be surprised that the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't recommend carrying children of any age in a shopping cart, with our without a car seat. It says it's safer to use one of those front-pack baby carriers that holds the child against your body, or a stroller for toddlers. Of course, that requires that you bring another adult with you when you shop.