4 shopping tips for shopping cart covers

Consumer Reports News: August 17, 2009 03:52 PM

If you decide to buy a shopping cart cover, here are some things to keep in mind.

Key in on comfort. Since that’s a major reason for buying a shopping-cart cover, look for a deluxe model, which usually has extra cushioning and maybe even an attachable pillow.

Think about where you’ll use the cover. Shopping carts come in different sizes and shapes. If you decide you need one, be sure the one you buy suits the type of cart you’ll use most often. Some brands specify right on the package which type of carts they fit. But if they don’t, ask the salesperson for specifics: “Does this shopping-cart cover fit the double-seater cart at Costco?” (Some cart covers are made for the double-seaters found at warehouse clubs.) Keep your receipt and know the store’s return policy just in case it doesn’t fit.

Look for a safety belt. An estimated 21,407 children under age 5 are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for shopping-cart-related injuries each year, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data. Falls from shopping carts are among the leading causes of head injuries to young children, according to the CPSC. Injuries result when children climb or fall out of shopping carts because the restraint system was not being used, children unbuckled or wiggled out of the restraint, or the restraint was missing. Falls from shopping carts most often occur when children stand up in the child seat or the cart basket. (Learn more about shopping-cart safety.)

Since the cart cover you buy probably will override the built-in safety belt on the shopping-cart seat, buy a cover that has its own durable safety belt as well as a belt to fasten the cover to the cart—ones that are easy to use, so you’ll be more likely to strap your baby in every time.

Check for ease-of-use. Before you buy, find out how the cover attaches to the cart—with Velcro, a buckle, or elastic. Since inserting a cart cover while holding your baby will be a challenge, you’ll want to be able to do it quickly with one hand. Read the instructions before you buy. Once you buy the cover, try it out at home so you’ll know exactly what to do in the store. The cover also should be easy to store in your car.

For more great baby product buying advice, get the latest edition of the Consumer Reports Best Baby Products guide, also available at bookstores nationwide.

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