Shopping alone is rare as a parent. And while you probably prefer a store’s pickup option, there are lots of reasons to go shopping with kids. It provides teaching opportunities and helps tire your kids out so they take good naps. But grocery shopping with a baby and a toddler, or really multiple kids of any age, isn’t easy. Whatever age your kids are and however many you have, here are some tips that can make shopping with kids something to enjoy.
That goes for your kids and you. Eat a meal or snack before leaving for the store, and then be sure to pack snacks in the diaper bag. Because even when you’ve just eaten, kids always seem to be starving once you walk into a store. Pretzels, string cheese, baby carrots, and fruit snacks — it’s OK if you pack a four-course meal for your toddler. Don’t forget a bottle of breastmilk or formula if your baby is still bottle-fed. And if for some reason your picky child won’t eat any of your snacks because he saw Goldfish, then grab a bag of Goldfish off the shelf and let him eat out of it while you shop. While you’re at it, open a bag of Milano cookies for yourself.
Along with packing snacks, pack some distractions for your kids. Bring a few books and small toys. Consider having a bag of special toys they only get to play with when you go grocery shopping. If your bag of tricks fails, give them your phone or pull out the iPad. No mom judges kids at the grocery store watching a show.
The best stores to shop with children have things like double carts, carts that will hold a shopping cart hammock, mini kid carts, food samples, free fruit stands for kids, and/or family parking spots. Sometimes you even get lucky enough and can shop at IKEA, a favorite for moms, if you haven’t already learned first-hand. They even offer to watch your kids in a supervised play area for free!
You have to check your list, but don’t forget to also give your children plenty of attention. A couple of ways to make running errands easier with kids is making it fun by playing a game as you shop, such as having them help you choose the ripest avocados or letting them decide what to get for dessert. When grocery shopping with a baby, be sure to stop every once in a while to make eye contact with your baby and talk to her.
Some people love grocery shopping so they take their time walking up and down every aisle. Some people hate grocery shopping so they get in and out as fast as they can. Neither of those paces is good for kids. Babies and toddlers can become overstimulated and exhausted if you shop too long, and a toddler who is very adamant about walking on his own will tire quickly and get frustrated if you keep telling him to hurry up. So go at a pace your kids can handle.
You’ve got a shopping cart full of food and kids — there’s no room for mom guilt. If some childless shopper is giving you a judgemental eye because your child keeps loudly begging to go down the toy aisle, just ignore them. Keep your cool and keep doing your thing.