My youngest daughter has cerebral palsy. When she outgrew her baby carrier, she was still a bit too wobbly to sit safely in a shopping cart. She COULD sit up (I don't recommend using these unless your child can actually sit up on their own)but every time I turned a corner, or stopped and started pushing the shopping cart, she would fall over or slam her face into the front bar of the cart. She also would mouth the shopping cart handle, which of course, is gross.
So I made her a shopping Cart Hugger. It helped hold her in place so she didn't fall over or forward, and it kept her from being able to put her mouth anywhere. Of course, the safety strap provided on the actual shopping cart is necessary for your child's safety. Never use a Cart Hugger without the proper safety strap buckled too. But these Huggers can go over that dirty strap to keep little one's hands off of it.
These are not just for kids with special needs. They are great for any baby or toddler, who can sit up on their own, but need a little extra stability (or perhaps to help keep their busy little butts still in the cart !!)
As my daughter got older, and bigger, I have found that these "Cart Huggers" work just as well as "Chair Huggers". Any chair that has slats in the back works with these as well. I use one with my daughter now that she's 3 when we go to restaurants if for some reason we don't want to use her stroller or maybe their highchair is too small.
So here's how I make them.
You will need:
- Bias Tape
- Glue Stick
- Velcro (1.5 inch width)
#1- For a basic baby/toddler Cart Hugger. Cut 2 strips of fabric 4 inches by 34 inches long. You can adjust the size as you need. (If you must use 2 inch wide Velcro, I suggest you cut your Cart Hugger fabric 5 inches, not 4) For my 13 yr old son, I go to 6 inches instead of 4 and of course actually measure around him in the chair to get the proper length, and I use 3 strips of Velcro instead of 2.
2- (After ironing your fabric) lay your fabric out on some batting and use glue stick on the back side of the fabric to tack into your batting so that it doesn't shift around when you are cutting and sewing.
#3- Cut out.
#5- Jig Jag stitch around each piece of fabric/batting. I have left too much batting. I would recommend trimming the batting even with the fabric.
#6- Put the 2 fabric/batting pieces, wrong sides together (ie- batting should be touching batting, and fabrics should be facing out on both sides) Pin ... A LOT!!! This is going to shift. A LOT! So use lots of pins!
#7- Serge together (or if you don't have a serger, you can just use the zig zag stitch again)
#8- I have used extra wide double fold bias tape. Line it up on one of the short sides about half way. You may want to pin in place if you need to.
#9- Straight stitch to the end of the short side and backstitch/tack down. I set my stitch at 3.5 length and 1.5 width. Then I line the left side of the bias tape up with the left side of the clear edge of the presser foot.
#10- Fold the bias tape around the edge, a mitered corner. Pin if you need to.
#11- Straight stitch the length, and continue around the rest of the Hugger by repeating the above steps.
#12- You can see in the pic below that I added a square/box at each corner. You don't have to do that, but it helps keep the corners down. You can just add them after you're done sewing around it if it's easier.
Cut the bias tape at the edge of the last short side as shown.
#13- Fold back the edge of the bias tape and glue.
#14-Place folded bias tape in position and pin if needed. Continue straight stitch sewing, continuing past the edge of the folded piece. Sew all the way to the end of the short side. Back stitch several stitches, then forward again. You can also stitch down the folded end edge.
#15- Cut out two 8 inch strips of hook (hard) side of Velcro and two 8 inch strips of loop (soft). If you make your Hugger 4 inches , then you need to use 1.5 inch width Velcro. (If all you can find is 2 inch width Velcro, then I recommend cutting your Cart Hugger 5 inches tall.)
#16- Place 2 like pieces of Velcro, long sides together and use a wide, very short jig jag stitch. Repeat for other 2 pieces of Velcro.
#17- Apply glue stick to the back of one of the Velcro pieces and apply to one end of the Hugger.
#18- Stitch on the Velcro. Be sure to match your bobbin thread to your fabric and don't just use white! Stitch around the entire rectangle. Stitch to either side of your zigzag stitches in the middle. And stitch the vertical middle.
#19- You will need to repeat steps 17 and 18 to the other end of the Hugger, but please remember to flip the Hugger over. The Velcro needs to be on opposites sides of the Hugger (not just opposite ends!!) Note in the pictures below, the Hugger that is folded in half. The hook side of the Velcro is on the front of the Hugger and the loop side of the Velcro would be on the back side of the Hugger if it were laid flat, as shown in the other pic .
Cart Huggers are NOT safety devices! ALWAYS use a shopping cart with an attached safety belt that locks around your child. Cart Huggers are meant to wrap around your child OVER the attached seat belt.
Cart Huggers are meant to be very snug around your child's chest. Wrap Hugger around your child's chest, under arms, and wrap around toward their back. Then thread both ends of Hugger through 2 or 3 of the shopping cart's vertical bars on the back of the seating area. Pull Hugger backward, bringing your child into an upright, stable position. Cross one side of the Hugger's velcro over the other side's Velcro, until your child is stable. Press Velcro sides together firmly. Always place the Velcro closure in back so that your child does not unfasten it.
Never leave child unattended in shopping cart. Always check Cart Hugger before each use. If Velcro is loose, or if any threads are loose or broken, please DO NOT USE.
Do not start or stop pushing your shopping cart abruptly, as your child'shead and neck is not supported and this can cause injury. Do not use if your child can not sit up by themselves unassisted. Do not use if your child can remove Cart Hugger by themselves.
Your child's safety is YOUR responsibility.