Three Baby Safety Musts That I Wish I’d Known Sooner

3 Child Safety Musts I Wish I'd Known Sooner

Oh, the paranoia of being a new parent. Scratch that- the paranoia of being pregnant! The lists and lists and lists of things NOT TO DO OR YOU AND YOUR BABY WILL EXPLODE can be super overwhelming. Actually, I found a lot of the lists and warnings really insulting to my intelligence… even my Bodum (NOT EVEN A BABY ITEM) has a little label informing me that babies and hot liquids don’t mix.

So, that’s why I was surprised, once becoming a Mama for the first time, that I didn’t actually know about these three risky practices until I stumbled upon warnings on (where else) the Internet. And no, these aren’t just paranoid helicopter parent warnings, I legitimately believe every parent should know these.

3 Child Safety Musts I Wish I’d Known Sooner

1. Your baby bucket seat doesn’t “Click” securely on top of a shopping cart.

Boba warning
Image courtesy of Boba

I saw it all the time at the grocery store: bucket seats conveniently perched on shopping carts, leaving baby in full view of Mama as she navigates the aisle. We got a hand-me-down bucket seat and I downloaded the manual for it. I put my husband in charge of learning how to use it and how to install it properly. (In hindsight, I now know he did not install it properly when we were leaving the hospital… now I’m the car seat installation expert.) I can’t say for sure whether or not my particular brand of bucket seat specifically warns against “clicking” a bucket seat on top of a grocery cart, but I can now say that I strongly caution against it. I honestly believed that it was a design feature for all bucket seats to click into shopping carts. Not so! Not so!

I remember putting my son on top of our Costco shopping cart, totally confident that this was a secure position. Now I cringe thinking back to how bumpy the parking lot was and how easily he could have tipped off.

The Lactation Learning Station discusses this issue at length, with examples of what can happen.

Next time I’ve got a baby in a bucket seat, I’ll be placing the bucket seat inside the cart or baby-wearing.

shopping cart

2. Your baby shouldn’t be wearing a massive snowsuit in his car seat.

It gets really cold here in Montreal in the winter. Cub was born in September, so when it started getting cold, I started bundling him up. We didn’t own a car over that first winter, so we were not often riding in a vehicle, but when we were, I remember how loose I had to make the straps to get him in while wearing his snow suit.

puffy snowsuit

Again, having seen lots of kids crammed into their car seats in their snowsuits, I didn’t think much of it until I read about the dangers of this practice.

According to Transport Canada:

Bulky snowsuits can affect the harness with respect to additional compressibility. In addition, many snowsuits are made of very slippery material. This can affect the harness system should the chest clip of the restraint not be used properly. When using bulky winter clothing ensure that the harness system is tight, compressing the material to ensure a snug fit. 

Québec’s SAAQ says:

Whenever you install children in car seats, make sure they are secured tightly enough by fitting one finger between the child’s chest and the straps. Your finger should barely fit in. Also check the adjustment around the hips. Lastly, make sure the coat does not fold under the straps or behind the child’s back.

It’s not easy to dress your child appropriately for the temperature while avoiding extra bulk for the car seat. We have a Columbia fleece suit that he wears, or else a fleece jacket and a blanket on his legs. We carry him out to the car with a blanket on top. Others use “Car Seat Ponchos” or, for older kids, get them to wear their coat backwards, on top of the car seat straps.

car seat

Another strategy to keep baby warm without a snowsuit is a bunting bag that fits into the bucket seat. You have to be wary of these, as well, as they may not be totally safe.

Again, from Transport Canada:

Any additional padding behind the child can induce both slack in the harness and additional compressibility. The Standard, which regulates children’s restraint systems, only allows for a certain amount of compressibility in the foam and material used. By increasing this amount, during a collision the additional foam/material can compress to the point that the harness system becomes very loose and therefore no longer is capable of restraining the child.

I don’t plan on using this bunting bag next time around, and have found a better solution.

bucket seat

3. Baby carriers that leave baby dangling by the crotch are neither comfy nor ergonomic.


I had a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn, and I’d seen The Hangover. I had a hand-me-down Ergo Baby too, but it didn’t fit Cub right away and I found the Infant Insert a bit awkward. I toted Cub around in the Bjorn at home and on the go.

baby bjornIn hindsight, I’m not really concerned that I was putting him at risk of hip dysplasia, though I don’t doubt that it is a legitimate concern for some children. I’m more concerned that this is not a comfy position to be carried  in… even looking at the picture above I just think he looks like he’s dangling!

ergoFor how much I carry Cub, I think it’s important for him to be seated comfortably. I am glad that the Baby Bjorn got very little use, since once he could sit in the Ergo without the Infant Insert, it became my main carrier. Nowadays, we love our Toddler Tula!

There are tons of child safety warnings that are just common sense, and designed to protect manufacturers from liability. I don’t religiously follow the age recommendations on toys and I think that the majority of parents can own a Bumbo without needing a special label warning them not to place it on elevated surfaces.

Since I consider myself among the majority of well-meaning, well-informed parents, and I didn’t know about the three safety concerns mentioned above, I thought it was worthwhile to admit that I didn’t know them and make an attempt at spreading the word!

What’s the most ridiculous safety warning you’ve read? Are there safety warnings you wish you’d known sooner?

37 responses to “Three Baby Safety Musts That I Wish I’d Known Sooner”

  1. Karine

    Well I would have liked to know sooner about car seats and winter coats! I used a bunting bag, but it was interesting because you could remove the back piece, making it safe according to the informations in your post. But, when we changed the car seat for a 3 in 1, I discovered about the snowsuit issue, and mine was very fluffy, so I finally bought a North face one that was less a problem when used in a car seat. If I had known about that earlier, I would have bought only one snowsuit instead of two!

  2. Thankfully, the web-savvy woman that I am, I came across many of these tips…and car seat safety was on the top of my list. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. I hate seeing car seats perched on top of shopping carts. I especially hate when I see parents walk away from the cart — creating a perfect time for the seat to fall off.

  4. Marie Constantineau

    When my children were young, sleeping on their backs was a BIG no no. Baby could choke if they spit up. We knew to keep the bummer pads, toys and blankets down to a minimum in the crib, but with new rules of baby sleeping on back with no blankets at all , i’m truly greatful my three babies grew up. 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      It’s so true how the recommendations change all the time!! I know my Mom had to tummy-sleep us, then there was also a period of side-sleeping in the 90s for some of my older Mom friends.

  5. I did the car seat in the car thing with my first 14 years ago. They *seem* like they click on so I had no clue! Thankfully I found out before my second son was born that it was a no-no.

    I also had a Baby Bjorn when my second was a baby and a similar style carrier by Snuggli for my first. In fact, I bough THREE from the consignment shop trying to find one that didn’t kill my shoulders once my son was more than 10 pounds. How silly of me. I then bought an Ergo and my life changed forever. It started a baby carrier obsession that has reached ridiculous levels.

  6. Jennifer

    You mentioned purchasing a used infant carrier. How were you 100% sure that it was not in a car accident? I believe that is one of the items that should always be purchased new.

    1. Lindsay

      Do you mean my bucket seat? It was given to me by a friend that I trusted. I wouldn’t be comfortable buying a bucket seat just off of Craigslist or Kijiji.

  7. Heather

    No car seat should snap onto a shopping cart! Its dangerous and thats not what the clips are for and it can damage them! The clips are meant only to snap into to car seat base thats in your vehicle!

  8. I had a baby Bjorn too and as much as I liked it I always worried that the baby wasn’t really all that comfy. Both my girls were chunky babies so they didn’t spend much time on them.

  9. I had so many friends recommend the Bjorn to me when I was pregnant, so that was our first carrier too. Once I learned about ergonomic carriers and was able to borrow some from friends, I found ones that we liked. Now we own 4 ergonomic soft structured carriers, a woven wrap, 2 ring slings, a sling pouch, and a mei tai. I may have become a bit obsessed!

  10. I think a lot of parents are unaware of the fact that their kids should not be wearing bulky coats in carseats. Living in New England, I see it all the time. Coats should probably have a warning label added stating that they should not be worn under seatbelts or in carseats.

    1. Lindsay

      There are so many things with ridiculous warning labels…. this would be less ridiculous… perhaps a label directly on the car seats would be the best.

  11. Such an important post!!! I remember being all panicky my son’s first winter because I didn’t know how to keep him warm without putting him in a giant snowsuit while in the car seat. Turns out that just warming up the car for a few minutes and keeping a blanket in the back seat worked perfectly!

  12. I already knew these things. The jacket thing was the most recent thing I found out about, last year. I don’t think DH takes it as seriously as I do.

  13. Another tip to add is to always buckle your child into a stroller. Kids can fall out if not buckled in properly.

  14. Thank you for this! I have a lot of new parent friends who can benefit from this post!

  15. Patricia W

    Thanks for this post! I did not know about #2! :S

  16. Jutta P.

    Great post! I think there are soooo many ridiculous warnings these days that it’s hard to sift through them and see the REAL warnings. I think you get so ingrained with “Oh, it’s just another warning” that you forget to stop and read about the risks.

  17. Brandi

    I’m going to get car seat ponchos for the kids this year. Not only is it safer, it’s more comfortable for them. My son gets pretty grumpy about wearing his fall coat in the car seat since it’s uncomfortable around his neck/shoulders where the straps sit. A winter coat would be even worse!
    I had a Snugli carrier for my first and used it about 5 times and that ended my babywearing days with him. It was pretty uncomfortable for both of us! I hadn’t done any research about the different types so I didn’t know any better. With baby #2 I read up on them, borrowed different kinds and bought some second-hand. She was a footling breech so already prone to hip dysplasia. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing any damage to her hips. My DD was pretty small so I used the infant insert plus a rolled up towel under her bum to lift her up in the Ergo and that worked well. She’s almost 15 mos and I still use the Ergo daily (she finally outgrew the inserts/towel)!

  18. […] car seats while they are wearing their snowsuits or thick jackets. I’ve posted about how I didn’t always know this: if it’s news to you, you’re not […]

  19. Monica Geglio

    I researched SO much before baby wearing so I knew that tip before wearing my baby. However, the other two tips I am almost ashamed I didn’t know with my first child!! I NEVER KNEW carseats weren’t supposed to go in the front of the shopping cart… Everyone does it! With my second baby, I always strapped him in when he could sit up well ~6months. Thanks for sharing!

  20. I have always struggled with how to bundle kids in the car. I currently just tighten the straps as tight as I can over their coats. I KNOW it’s not as safe but when it’s -20C I can’t imagine just having them in a fleece. Someone needs to invent an incredibly warm fleece snowsuit for kids!

    1. Tiffany Henfling

      Yes, I couldn’t agree more!

    2. Lindsay Gallimore

      I agree. Honestly when it’s a really short jaunt I may cram him in with his coat. Otherwise at least our car is in a heated garage so once we’re IN, we’re good with a blanket.

  21. Tiffany Henfling

    I can totally relate to the third item on the list. It kills me to watch littles carried the wrong way. :/ Great list Lindsay!

    1. Lindsay Gallimore

      I cringe looking back at our pics! I mean, I didn’t break my baby, but he sure doesn’t look comfy!

  22. These are fabulous safety tips!

    I was totally guilty of putting the baby bucket at the top of the shopping cart. Eeek! Makes me sick to think of it now.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Lindsay Gallimore

      Same here! I very truly believed it was a normal thing to do!

  23. Iulia Gulia

    Oh my goodness I’m basically obsessed with all of these! And they’re so easily avoidable too…

    1. Lindsay Gallimore

      Know more, do better!

  24. Ahhhh I love ALL of these, especially the grocery cart one! I feel like NO ONE knows about that and I always see it happening. Awesome list!

    1. Lindsay Gallimore

      I would be too embarrassed to correct someone at the grocery store though…. would you?

  25. Lots of lessons here! Thanks for sharing them.

  26. […] have previously admitted that I had no idea that snow suits and car seats didn’t mix during Cub’s first winter. […]

  27. I had a lovely lady approach me in the grocery store who was a car seat technician – she let me know about how dangerous it is to put the baby bucket on the cart and that it actually damage the clips. She said she was hesitant about stopping but I am so glad she did!

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Welcome to my Wolf Pack!

My name is Lindsay and I am a 40-year-old mama of four trying to live an eco-friendly, budget-friendly life! I am a substitute teacher and Child Passenger Safety technician in Calgary, Alberta. Join me on my adventures!

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