Tips for Shopping with Little Ones

Grocery Shopping with Little Ones

When I was expecting my first baby, I often thought about how I would manage running errands and grocery shopping by myself with a baby.

Once my first son was several weeks old, I finally worked up the courage to go grocery shopping by myself. It wasn’t necessarily easy but it wasn’t as big of a deal as I had made it out to be.

Now, grocery shopping involves two little ones (soon to be three) and I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.

Tips for Grocery Shopping with Baby:

  • Invest in a comfortable baby carrier. Wearing your baby is the easiest way to grocery shop. This frees up all the space in your cart for groceries. (My favorite carriers: Baby K’tan for small babies and Boba Classic Baby Carrierfor larger infants and toddlers.)
  • Park near a cart return. If you prefer keeping your baby in their infant seat, you can grab a cart before going in so you don’t have to lug that heavy seat all the way in the store! When you are done shopping, you can quickly return the cart and stay close to your vehicle.
  • Avoid taking in the entire diaper bag. A bulky diaper bag takes up valuable grocery space in your cart. I carry a small backpack as my purse so I’ll stash a burp cloth and a diaper, wipes and wet bag in there instead of the entire diaper bag.
  • Have realistic expectations. You are shopping with a tiny person in tow so grocery shopping is not as simple as it was before baby.
  • Use every inch of your grocery cart. If you do leave baby in the infant seat, it really is amazing how much you can fit in the cart around your baby. The bottom of the cart has tons of room and small items can fit around the sides of the carrier!
  • Be organized. Write your grocery list out with thought to where items were in the store, it makes your trip through the store more efficient and eliminates back tracking.

Tips for Grocery Shopping with Toddlers/Preschoolers:

  • Use the car carts. These carts are fabulous! Yes, they seem to weigh a ton (especially when loaded down with 60 pounds of children) and are difficult to push but they make grocery shopping fun for little ones and easier for mama.
  • Teach your preschooler to walk along side you. There are stores where car carts and 2 seater carts are not available. In these situations, my 3-year-old walks alongside me. He ‘helps’ me push the cart and assists in putting things into the cart. I started teaching him to walk alongside me when he was a little over 2 and while it’s definitely not the easiest way to shop with little ones, it’s also not a nightmare!
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Grocery shopping with little ones just takes longer than shopping without. The worst thing is trying to do all the shopping in a short amount of time.
  • Be flexible. Almost every trip to the grocery stores involves someone saying “I have to pee pee” about halfway through. Or brothers fighting in the car cart and needing to be separated. The key is to expect that these things are going to happen and be flexible when they do!
  • Don’t give in to requests. My kids sometimes ask for things but I simply tell them no and it doesn’t involve a tantrum because I never started the habit of purchasing treats and other things they want.
Be Flexible
Grocery trips frequently involve reminding my children to keep their hands and feet inside of the cart! Remember – be flexible!

These tips are what works for me when it comes to grocery shopping with my children. I don’t get stressed out about bringing them along and for the most part, they behave quite well and grocery shopping isn’t a task that I dread.

What are your tips for shopping with little ones?

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responses to “Tips for Shopping with Little Ones” 22

  1. My tip for the bathroom thing is that the first thing we do when we get to the store is we ALL use the bathroom, even though we ALL went right before we left home (it's a 25-30 min. drive to any store for us). 🙂 Depending on how much they or I have been drinking and how much time is between stores if we're going to more than one, we do the "bathroom first" routine at EACH store. Since I'm pregnant it makes shopping more comfortable for me, too. 🙂

      1. Our oldest (3.5) will commonly say she doesn't need to go (while on the potty) and then 10 seconds later will go. So, I always have her at least try. I figure every teaspoon that she gets rid of at the start of the shopping trip is one we won't have to pause in the middle of the store for. 🙂

  2. Love this, especially the part about not starting the habit of giving in to requests in the store! The tip about parking close to the cart return is soooo important…. it took me a while to learn to plan ahead with this one, because I never realized what an issue it was until after I was done shopping!!

    1. I think not giving in to requests is what makes the experience pretty stress free overall for me! They rarely ever ask for anything and if they do, they know my answer probably is no! And, yes, it's so worth walking a little bit further to the store and being close to the cart return!

  3. Love your tips. As usual, they are great! We also wore our babies for as long as we possibly could…it also keeps the germs away from them and from strangers touching them when they were very young. 😛 Did you happen to receive my email yet? It's the 3rd time I've typed it up and sent it, so hoping you got it! 😛

  4. My favorite is managing your expectations. I am also pregnant with my 3rd and once I realized what was reasonable and set my children up for success by managing their expectations of the trip as well, then I actually feel quite accomplished after a grocery trip. All of these are great tips!

  5. When the boys were babies I actually pulled my double stroller and pushed my cart. And as they got bigger I wore one and put one in the cart and they would play with each other. Now that they are 3 we use the car buggy and I take snacks, coloring pages, or they will watch a movie on my phone. My husband never understood why it took so long at the grocery store with them until he went with us and now he does. It definitely takes planning and preparation but it is totally doable. I have to admit though I love when I get to go alone it's like a mini vacation. lol

  6. Have a snack prior to entering the store or while in the cart. A small bag or Tupper of cheerios or other suitable snack keeps little hands busy and tummies full, so not as much asking for snacks. Probably works for mama's too, so snack items do not jump into the cart because Mama is hungry.

  7. In the last couple months I learned to shop at night so my husband can watch the toddler (babies are easy!). We live far away though, 45 minute drive one way so its a LONG day when we shop and it takes hours without children (I limit the trips to save on gas). So, we are getting almost a month worth of food at one time… Its really hard, without kids!

    With cold/flu season coming I pee in our van/car that way I do not get the germs of a public restroom (if I have children with me they will do this too). We just use a toddler toilet. They touch everything, even if I keep saying "hands to your sides"). I also do not grab those carts outside… Those were just touched and if there are germs they will most likely be alive.

  8. These are great tips, Rachel!
    Thankfully, my girls know they won't get everything they ask for when we're shopping, sometimes I tell them what we're getting so they know. I started that long ago. We just walk around and look at everything. We look at the live lobsters and the cupcakes but we get neither. Nyla also helps me push the cart and put groceries in. I need to start this with Naomi as she's not the best about staying beside me and helping me.
    And the car carts are fabulous! One time the girls started out in the car and then both ended up in the cart. Luckily, we were just running in to get milk and produce. It cracked me up though. Here I was pushing the large car cart and no little ones riding in the cart! 🙂

    1. We had one of those days not too long ago where they both started out in the car, were separated due to fussing with each other and then Paxton got lonely and wanted to sit up front too! I wish they made more double front seater carts!

  9. I have a 5 and 3-year-old. I shop while the older one is in kindergarten. Our local grocery store has a little cafe in it that has muffins and doughnuts, as well as different coffees, etc. The doughnuts are sold at the same price as the ones you can buy in the store. $.65 isn't a big investment in peace & quiet and I don't think a doughnut a week will hurt a kid who walks with me and her sister a mile a day to school. She eats a dougnut and sits in the car cart. She also gets jobs to do. She gets to count out fruit or larger veggies (like bell peppers) and put them in the bag. She also hunts for "the yellow box of cereal that starts with a C." It takes ages, but I go in knowing this.

  10. Just reading over some archives, this is a great post!! Parking next to the cart return has been key for us, it’s embarrassing how long it took me to finally figure this out 🙂 I really like the idea of leaving the diaper bag in the car, why carry all the stuff in if you aren’t going to use it? I would love to know more about your back pack, what size/brand works for you? I like the idea of being hands-free in the store with 2 kids!

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