4 Tips to Make Shopping with Your Child a Breeze
How often do your go shopping with your child? I bet it happens multiple times a week. And let me ask you this: Are the shopping trips enjoyable? If your answer is NO, I have some easy to follow tips for you.
I often have either one or both of my sons in tow when I shop. So does that mean that all my shopping trips are dreadful and filled with tears and fights? Absolutely not. In fact, in my son’s 3 year existence, I can count on one hand the number of shopping trips that ensued in tantrums or tears. And yet when I talk to other moms, it seems that shopping is often a dreaded and painful experience for them. So I started to think back about what helped my shopping go smoothly with my children and I came up with a few tips and tricks.
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1. Go shopping with your child when they are a baby
I remember the first shopping trip we took with my son in tow. He was a tiny human no more than a week old when he first graced a store with his presence. We made sure to time it right and he slept through the whole trip. Peace and quiet. Ahhhh!!! I think he slept through most shopping trips in his infancy. But because I started taking him with me early, it just became part of a routine for both him and me to go shopping a few times a week.
2. Timing is everything
When you take your child on a shopping trip, timing is everything. As I said before, my son slept through most of his shopping trips when he was a baby. I breastfed him and made sure to time my shopping trips between his feeds. Feeding while shopping was not on my to do list, so I knew exactly how much time I had before he got hungry again. I would usually finish a feed, get dressed quickly and race out to the store. It often meant that my shopping trip was not leisurely and limited to 2 stores at most. I may have felt pressed for time but at least my shopping was in silence.
As he got older and spent more time awake, I alternated between taking him to stores during nap and awake time. If he was awake, I would wear him in a carrier and go about my shopping. He enjoyed people watching and rarely complained. But I still made sure to time my trips to not hit his feeding time. Nothing worse than a hangry baby. I followed the same principle as he got older. Shopping only done after he had a good meal and wasn’t too close to nap or bed time. Tantrums due to tiredness or hunger, avoided.
3. Teach good shopping habits
So once you address the timing of your shopping, the next thing to tackle is whining. We’ve all been in a store where a child is whining or throwing a tantrum because they want something that a parent won’t get for them. It may be a toy or a food item but the underlying problem is the same: They want it and they want it NOW!!!! Usually one of two things happen, the parent either gets it for them to shut them up or they go about their shopping with a screaming child and vowing to only ever shop again at midnight without said child.
But what if you can actually avoid these tantrums? Would that make your shopping experience more pleasurable? It would for me. Teaching boundaries and setting the right expectations will ensure that shopping trips go smoothly and without whining.
First, from and early age set the expectation that demanding an item will not result in the item being bought. Teach the child that they are allowed to calmly ask for the item and then have to deal with a NO if you are not intending on purchasing it. Even if you think your child may not fully comprehend why they can’t have the item, still spend time explaining to them why the item was not purchased. It’s worth the time investment. Second, do not buy a treat for a child every time you go shopping. Not only does that diminish the value of a treat but it brings on an expectation that something special will be bought every time. And then the one time you don’t buy something special, all hell will break loose.
4. Make shopping with your child fun
I know when you dread doing an activity with your kid, it’s easy to rely on technology for distraction. Just stick a phone or pad in their hands and let them play. And then you can quickly go about your business. But by doing that, you are robbing your child of an experience. And shopping is always an experience. So make it fun.
Whenever I shopped with my son when he was awake, I would always talk to him. I would name the things we were buying, I would show them to him, I would sing songs or talk in a baby voice.. And so it became fun for him. He shopped with me multiple times a week and it became a fairly routine but fun event. As he got older, he became more involved in the shopping process. He asks me about the items we buy, he asks to buy certain things, he even gets to shop himself in stores that have kid sized carts. It’s super fun for him. The best part is when he picks out flowers for me. Swoon.
Bonus Tip for the Pandemic: Make Shopping Safe
Right now, we’re still in the grips of a pandemic. And while some of us are able to make trips without our children in tow, not all of us are. So it’s even more important now than ever to make sure that your child is safe in the shopping cart. We have been using this Claro Baby Shopping Cover (if you’re interested, read my honest review here) and it’s been a great help in keeping some of the germs away. Find a mask that your child agrees to wear, wipe down the cart one more time before putting your child inside (I use alcohol prep pads because they are super portable and have a higher concentration of alcohol than any disinfectant wipes), and talk to your child about not touching things unnecessarily. It may not be perfect, but we all need to survive in these difficult times.
Here are my Amazon Picks for masks and portable disinfectants:
I hope my tips can make your life easier. We already have so much stress in our lives that shopping with our children should not add to it. Now onto my next grocery trip!!!!
30 thoughts on “4 Tips to Make Shopping with Your Child a Breeze”
Such great ideas!
I really think what works for us is making it fun. These are all great tips!
Thank you for the comment, Annette.
My daughter loved pushing those little carts when she was a baby! Thankfully some stores have taller ones for bigger kids so she still sometimes enjoys it.
That’s so awesome. I wish more stores had the carts. My LO loves being involved.
I agree with your tips especially with the timing. Timing is everything. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Jackline.
Thanks for these tips! I’m always looking for ways to de stress my shopping trips.
Glad to be of help, Krystina.
This is always a battle for me even now that my kids are older! I think my problem is I take too long… because Target is so addicting!!
Lol. Target is pretty awesome. But my son loves it and the dang gigantic cart. I hate that thing but it keeps him happy.
These are great tips! I actually don’t take my child with me shopping that much because…that’s mama’s time! Sometimes it can’t be helped though and it can be a lot of fun!
Thanks for the comment, Beth. Yes, when I do solo shopping trips, it’s so nice. But when kids are in tow, it’s much better when it’s fun for everyone.
These are useful and important tips for new parents. Shopping with kids should be fun. Sharing with my cousin who is a new mom.
Thank you for your comment, Heena. Yes, shopping with kids should be fun. I hope your cousin finds these tips useful.
aweeeeee i love shopping with my little one. When she was younger, we would just walk around the stores all the time so she could look at things! now since she’s in preschool….we make it educational and fun!
Thanks for sharing, Brittany. That sounds like a wonderful experience for your daughter.
Engaging children (and not ignoring them) during the trip always helped them stay even keeled, at least for mine.
I agree, Marta. We’ve always engaged our son and he very much enjoys shopping. So he’s easy to take with us. Plus it doesn’t hurt to shop at Trader Joe’s where they always have little samples and stickers.
Shopping with one is not too bad if you follow these tips, especially if you are able to time it around naps. It can actually be fun if you only have one or two stops. The more kids and stops there are the harder it gets though! We used to live a half hour from the store and we have multiple kids. I used to have to take them shopping with me and I’m so glad I don’t have to take all them with me anymore, lol! Now we live close to the store and so I do my shopping when the hubby is off work.
Thanks for sharing, Shayla. I do agree that this works well with one to two kids. If you have more, it does get more difficult for sure. And I do prefer shopping without kids but doesn’t usually happen.
I agree that timing is everything when it comes to taking your children out.
I lucked out because both my kids were so good for me in stores. I also love Trader Joes because they have the child size carts to push around which they always loved.
I love TJs. The best store on the planet but our doesn’t have the little carts. I wish it did.
These are great tips! I love that you stress not giving in to bribery with treats. It is so important to establish good shopping habits early. I fully agree about not giving in to treats all the time. I don’t think kids should always have an iPad with them as well.
Thank you, Marysa. Yes, all those things set bad precedents that are very hard to change later on.
These are great tips! We do not always take my daughter shopping with us because she likes to spend time with her grandparents while we go, but when we do, we find timing super important!
Thank you for sharing, Patricia. Yes, I think timing is everything with young kids. Makes such a huge difference.