Woman invents a device that she hopes will keep children clean and secure in carts

Watching her grandson climbing out of a shopping cart and chewing on its handle, Ann B. wondered why no one had found a way to keep kids in carts safe from injury and germs. The thought passed soon enough, but as storied kept coming up about children injured falling out of carts and as she kept seeing children wiping their noses and rubbing their hands on the cart, the idea seemed to make more and more sense. Several years later, an inheritance has allowed her to contact an invention company to market a device that will keep kids clean and secure in their seats. The Child's Clean/Safe Shopping Cart Helper is currently making the rounds at invention conventions around the country, and Ann is hoping that someone will believe in the idea and manufacture it.

"I tossed it around for quite a while, but I thought my mom would have wanted me to do something worthwhile with this money, rather than throw it away," she said. "So whether we recoup any money or not, I don't know." She spent a few months researching the problem and looking at other products on the market before coming up with a design she liked. After getting input from her family, she was ready to finalize it. She sewed a prototype and sent it to the invention company. "I've seen so many little kids standing up in the shopping carts, and there's so much filth and germs on the shopping carts," she said. "Our main goal is just to keep children safe." About 21,000 children are injured in falls from shopping carts every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ann said most carts are only cleaned about twice a year. "Maybe it would cut down on some of the flu. You never see someone wiping down the handle of the shopping cart before they use it," she said. "All it takes is for one person with the flu to grab that shopping cart." The patent for the device is still pending, so many of its aspects are still being kept secret, but Ann said the device is designed to slip into a cart and cover up any part that could carry germs. It also provides a way of strapping in the child so securely that no child would be able to get out. There are some similar products available already, she said, but they focus on "big, frilly, comfort" and don't keep children in the cart and away from germs the way hers will. "I wanted to make it different enough from what's out there that people would be interested in it," she said. "Not that you want to treat them like an animal, but you want to keep them safe."