To me, shopping cart covers are a personal choice item. You either use them because you want both you and your baby to have a good shopping experience or you don’t need one for personal reasons. Whatever your choice, I’m sure you are a responsible mother when you go shopping with your little one.
Mothers want only the best for their little ones, and shopping cart covers provide both comfort and safety on those long shopping trips.
What is a shopping cart cover?
In short, a shopping cart cover is a padded cover for the baby seating area of a shopping cart. They are easy to use and buckle into place, both in the front and the back of the cart.
Once in place, your baby has a secure, comfortable, and clean seat that will bring down your stress level and make shopping with your baby fun.
“Why use one?” you may ask. When shopping cart covers first came onto the market, the emphasis was on germ spread prevention.
You will notice how many articles focus on germs in a Google search, but throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, things have changed, or have they?
Stores now disinfect their shopping cart handles and spray disinfectant on your hands as a mandatory precaution but is this enough? In some ways, we can argue that it’s the best that can be done at this moment.
When discussing shopping seat covers, it’s important to consider all the benefits they offer objectively. After all, we all know how following science is going, right?
Keep your little one’s best interest at heart and do all you can to ensure that their outing experiences with you are pleasant ones.
8 benefits of a shopping cart cover
Believe it or not, shopping cart covers offer great benefits that directly help mothers on shopping trips. Here is a rundown of the main benefits:
Shopping carts are hard and uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time. Most shopping cart covers are padded and cover the area of the cart within reach of your little one when seated.
The padding is designed to be comfortable and props up your baby to support their back and sides so your little one doesn’t fall about in the standard cart seating arrangement.
2. Safety device
If your baby is still too small to sit upright without wobbling and tipping over, then consider a padded shopping cart to cover a safety device. Babies only begin sitting on their own at about six months of age.
Until they are big enough and old enough to sit on their own in the center of the shopping cart baby seat, you should consider this a safety hazard. This is because your baby can flop over at any time and get hurt.
Older babies move around a lot, and they will often try and stand up, which could cause a serious fall or possibly cause the cart to topple over.
3. Safety straps
Shopping cart seat covers come with straps that you use to lock your baby into place. Supported by the padding, the straps help to keep your baby in the center of the seat.
This will give you peace of mind when your attention is away from your little one and on the grocery shelf. Without seating straps, you may have a stressful shopping experience.
4. Germ control
No, using a shopping cart cover will not give you 100% protection from germs, but it will lessen the risk considerably.
We all know that babies touch everything in their reach, and their hands are constantly over their face and in their mouth, which is a germ super spreader event when combined with germ-ridden shopping carts.
Teething babies bite and chew on everything, including their own hands. Shopping cart covers literally blanket the complete area of the shopping cart baby seating area.
This included the cart handle so your baby could lean forward and bite on the handle without fuss.
5. Play area
The area covered by the shopping cart cover automatically becomes a compact play area for your little one.
You can have one or two toys or a teething ring attached or tethered to the shopping cart cover that prevents them from falling to the ground. The toys will entertain your little one while you coast the aisles.
Most shopping cart covers are made from durable materials that can handle all the bumps and scrapes that shopping endure.
Your little one will pick and tug at the cover and will also end up spilling the contents of their sippy cup all over it, which will mean regular cleaning.
7. Storage space
Some shopping cart covers have built-in pockets for small valuables like car keys or your cell phone.
Some covers have a see-through plastic pouch in front of your baby for your phone, so you can have them watch their favorite kiddy program while you take care of the shopping.
8. Dual purpose
Both shopping carts and restaurant high chairs are uncomfortable to sit in for long periods of time. They are also both breeding grounds for germs, and this is always a concern for parents.
Using a cover on a cart or high chair limits your baby’s exposure to germs and, at the same time, provides for a comfortable and secure seat.
Why the fuss about germs?
The word “germ” included bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that cause diseases. All public facilities where people congregate are prone to concentrated levels of germs.
Surfaces touched by multiple people that are not cleaned or sanitized regularly will accumulate germs passed on to other unsuspecting people.
Governments worldwide responded to the Covid-19 pandemic with virus awareness campaigns and prevention mandates like mask-wearing, social distancing, surface area sanitizing, and handwashing.
These steps were, and still are, necessary to limit the spread of the virus, which coincidently cannot survive for very long without a living host. However, much fear-mongering has left many parents worried and doubtful about our return to normal.
On the positive side, the pandemic has resulted in serious germ control interventions in most public spaces. Sanitizing the handles of shopping carts and spraying your hands with sanitizer has become the norm.
Research conducted before the pandemic in 2016/17 on surfaces in public spaces and shopping carts showed that shopping carts are way more contaminated than the handle of a toilet.
For example, the study revealed that a budget grocery store cart had 8112 bacteria colonies per square inch while a toilet handle had 30 bacteria colonies per square inch.
This and other similar research revealed shocking statistics that would make any person cringe. Besides the obvious reasons for using a shopping cart cover, a shift in health consciousness has brought controversy about whether to use a cover.
It is said that after one uses a shopping cart cover, it’s just as contaminated as the cart or high chair it was used on. This may be true, but for that outing, you provided some protection for your little one against germs that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
How do we know if the shopping cart or high chair we use has been properly cleaned or sanitized? We can’t be sure, but we can assume public facilities remain a potential health risk.
People generally do not go shopping every day. It might be a weekly or monthly event that gives you enough time to wash and disinfect the cover for its next use.
Are shopping cart covers affordable?
There is a wide range of covers on the market that vary in price, and you will find covers that fit into your budget. Consider the benefits of shopping cart covers mentioned in this article to help you with your purchase.
Can I wash the cover in a washing machine?
It depends on the cover you purchase. Most are machine washable, which is a blessing. It’s best to check the cleaning or washing instructions to make sure you are making the right purchase.
Can I not just use a portable baby car seat instead of a cover?
The problem you will face is limiting the space needed for your groceries. Besides, if you’re buying meat or poultry products, you don’t want to pack them in the cart around your little one because of the risk of being exposed to salmonella. Consider the safety tips in this article.
Shopping cart covers are not every parent’s cup of tea. This is understandable as it may not be convenient to set up with your baby in your arms. However, that little extra effort you put in has great benefits to make your shopping experiences more pleasant.
Germs are an issue, even more so with the ongoing pandemic, and keeping your little one safe should be your number one priority. Covers may not work as effectively as we hope, but by using a shopping cart cover, you are making an effort to protect your little one from invisible germs.
Create a safe and comfortable space for your little one while shopping or having lunch at a restaurant, and you gain peace of mind in the process.