Every year, an estimated more than 20,000 children fall from or tip over a grocery store shopping cart, a tally kept annually by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2012, stricter safety measures were added to shopping carts, such as requiring a strap or adjustable buckle and proper warning labels. Yet, for most shoppers, the buckles are either broken or children are able to maneuver their way out and inevitably fall and the annual number roughly stays the same.
Nichole Clark, inventor of the Buggie Huggie, is one North Texas parent who has experienced the fear of watching their child launch themselves from the seat of a shopping cart. At the age of two, her son Jonah had fallen from a cart on three separate occasions.
“I thought, there has to be something that can latch around them because the shopping cart buckles, a lot of times, are either broken or the child maneuvers his way out of the buckle,” she says.
Nichole took things into her own hands that same year and made a safety device for shopping carts from scratch, the product that became the Buggie Huggie.
Buggie Huggie launched September 1 on Kickstarter and has since received more than $29,000 in donations, surpassing Nichole’s $5,000 goal. Of the backers, 90 percent have donated a certain amount with the expectation of receiving one to three Buggie Huggies depending on the amount donated and selection chosen once the campaign ends.
The campaign runs through October 1, and the Buggie Huggie ships November 1, three days before Jonah’s birthday.
“He is the inspiration behind it all,” Nichole says.
Nichole’s husband and Buggie Huggie co-inventor Jack Clark III drew out the apparatus, just a sketch of Nichole’s idea. Nichole wanted something that would hold their toddler in, but also have a space for them to put activities to keep Jonah occupied.
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“They [Jack and Jonah] went to work on it. They were out in the garage using some plastic and that was the first prototype,” Nichole recalls. The result was a makeshift version of their current product.
The Buggie Huggie today is the result of 18 months of work spent looking for manufacturers, filing a patent and smoothing out the design. The product is made with BPA-free and food-grade plastic, has a built-in tray, height adjustable barrier and two clips to secure the product to the cart. “It’s collapsable, it fits in most diaper bags and it’s got a handle,” Nichole says. “The handle is what you would put the phone holder on.”
The phone holder featured on their Kickstarter campaign is an additional piece that can be purchased separately for those who enjoy having the technological-friendly feature.
The Clarks are also working on developing silicone activity mats for the trays to make entertainment at the store just one step easier for parents.
It can also support up to 40 lbs, which means it can hold as many items as needed to keep a child entertained. There’s two latches in front of the tray made specifically to secure pacifiers, toys, bottles, books and other entertainment pieces as needed, something Nichole felt was missing in her shopping experiences with Jonah. The barrier, or restraint, is ideal for children between the ages of 18 months to four years old using a standard grocery cart. Although even Nichole laughingly admits, “My eight year old could fit in it, but we wouldn’t make him do that.”
As a mother of three—Noah, Jonah and Avery—and similar struggles with her youngest Avery, Nichole feels her idea and product could help other parents.
“It started out just seeing the need and knowing the stress I was under and really wanting to meet that need for other women,” she says.
The Clarks will also be donating a percentage of their profit to Transform Haiti, to help orphanages and aid in missions work.
For moms who are hard on themselves and are feeling guilty about their own experiences at the grocery store, Nichole points out, “We hold such a high standard for ourselves [mothers] and the truth is a lot of times we miss it, but there is so much grace and so much forgiveness. [It’s great] just to hear someone say ‘it’s okay, we’re all in this together, you’re not a bad mom, it happens to all of us,’ and you’re not alone.”