I love to shop! Anyone who knows me, knows I’m good for an all-day shopping spree. All I need is a comfortable pair of shoes, a chai tea latte from Starbucks, and a bag of my new favorite snack, Bare Cinnamon Banana Chips, and I can easily wander the aisles of Target for 5 hours. Sometimes longer if it’s Christmas! If you think about it, toddlers are the same way. They need to be comfortable and happy just like mommy if you’re going to avoid an all-out public tantrum (I’ve been there). You’re probably not going to make it through a shopping trip unscathed if your child is hungry, tired, bored, or thirsty. So be prepared. Stuff your diaper bag, purse, pockets, shoes— wherever you can fit a toy car and a bag of snacks—cross your fingers, and pray for the best.
Stock Your Bag
-Bring your toddler’s favorite snacks or try snacks they’ve never had. My son is always more excited to get something he’s never eaten or hasn’t had in a while. He’s way more interested if it’s new to him.
-Don’t forget drinks. Juice boxes, bottled water, or sippy cups to wash down that bag of Cheez-Its they just devoured.
-Small toys, books, coloring pads, and figurines are a must-have on all of my shopping trips. Sometimes I let my son sift through my purse, letting him pull out each item one-by-one asking “what’s this” — a game that’s not always fun for mommy but definitely for my son.
Bring on the Entertainment
-Play games like I spy with food, colors, and other items in the store.
-If you’re grocery shopping, let your toddler stack cans and boxes of food in the cart and then knock them down. Hype it up like it’s the coolest thing in the world and this little trick will keep them busy the entire shopping trip.
-My last resort is my phone or tablet. Free educational apps like EduKitty, Animal Sounds, Kids Doodle, and ABCya are some of my little one’s favorites. I also keep downloaded versions of his favorite YouTuber, Blippi, on my phone and his tablet.
Ask Your Little One to Help / Give Them a Job
-Tots can help pick out fruits and veggies.
-Ask them to help organize the cart.
-Tell your toddler to help count the number of veggies in your cart or the number of cans.
Keep Shopping Trips Short
-Don’t expect a toddler to be perfectly well behaved on an all day shopping spree so try to keep the visit short, if possible.
-Always make a list of what you need prior to getting to the store and stick to it. If you start to browse or stray from your list, time will get away from you and your little one may get antsy.
Related: Creative Kids Art Station
-Reward good behavior with time at the park or library instead of a toy.
-If all else fails, try telling your little one that if they are well behaved the entire shopping trip, they can pick out a small toy from the dollar section or a favorite snack.
Instacart or Shipt
-If there’s no time to shop, the kids are crabby, or you just can’t bear to haul them to the store try shopping websites like Instacart and Shipt. They both have free apps so it’s easy to shop right from your phone or tablet.
–Instacart also offers same-day delivery from a variety of stores, not just grocery stores. Shop Costco, Petco, Whole Foods, CVS Pharmacy, and more. Check available stores in your area. There are no membership fees but you may have to pay a small delivery fee.
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