Your survival guide to shopping with a toddler

We show you how to be a pro at navigating your way around the shops with your little one in tow.


 Grocery shopping with your toddler is like playing a game of Twister on ice – you need to have speed, sharp mental focus, patience and balance to have any hope of winning.

ALSO SEE: 5 tips to cope with toddler tantrums

Sure, it’s much easier to shop alone, but that’s not always possible. Fortunately, there are ways to make your trips to the supermarket less painful – and even fun – for both you and your toddler.

Follow these handy tips for an enjoyable shopping trip with your toddler:

  1. Decide if your toddler will sit in the trolley or walk with you. On entering the supermarket, the noisy activity can excite your tot and he’ll want to start playing games. This is when you decide if he should sit in the trolley or walk with you. His movements will be a little more controlled if he sits in the trolley, but, depending on his mood, this might not always be possible. He also might need to burn off a little energy after being buckled up in the car for the trip.
  2. Avoid rush hour. Fewer shoppers mean shorter lines and easier movement through a store. Plan your shopping trips to avoid stores’ busiest times. The quietest shopping hours are generally weekday mornings before 11am. The worst times to shop are weekday afternoons and early evenings when there are the after-school and after-work crowds.
  3. Make a list. With all the colourful displays and long aisles, it’s easy to lose your focus in a supermarket. Add to that the extra distraction of an active toddler and you’re lucky to remember your name. A list allows you to shop quicker and still keep your attention on your child. Try placing items in the order you encounter them in the store. For example, if you usually start shopping in the dairy department, put milk at the top of your list.
  4. Teach and talk. Use your toddler’s natural curiosity to keep him engaged. Talk about what you are seeing and doing. For example, say, “Oh look they have coconuts now. Do you know what coconuts are used for?” When appropriate, let him touch or smell the products. Say, for example, “These are furry. Would you like to feel them?”
  5. Shop on a full tummy. A hungry child is not a happy shopper, and he may demonstrate his unhappiness loudly and often. Make sure your little one eats something before going to the supermarket.
  6. Involve your toddler in the shopping process. This keeps him busy and makes shopping fun. You can say, “We need a tin of tomatoes. Can you fetch it off the shelf for me?”, or “I’ll hold the bag while you put the apples inside.” At the cashier’s till, ask your toddler to help you place the groceries on the conveyor counter.
  7. Bring a snack. Children are no different than adults. Being around food may make them want some. Prepare for this by taking along a small bag of crackers or raisins in your handbag.

ALSO SEE: 5 tips to tame toddler tantrums

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