Those of us with small children need to shop for groceries just as much as anyone else. We have the added challenge of trying to simultaneously prevent said small children from destroying the supermarket in the process. One parenting book that I consulted on the matter of how to bring a child successfully through a trip to the grocery store simply said “don’t”. This was not very helpful, especially since many of us are not in a position to arrange babysitting whenever we need to buy food. Here are some tips for managing the outing.
1. Make sure your child is fed ahead of time. Going to the store hungry is a bad enough idea for you, since you will end up buying much more than you can eat. It’s even worse for your toddler, who will become increasingly irritable until you are forced to give in to his demands for candy.
2. Let them help decide what food to buy. Make a list ahead of time, and talk about what food you need. You can ask questions like “what vegetable do you want, carrots or broccoli?”. If you simply ask what they want without offering choices, the answer is likely to be “cookies”. When you get to the store, you can remind them of the list: “Here’s the broccoli that you wanted! Should we get this one or this other one?”
Making a list ahead of time has some further benefits. First, it will stop you from buying unnecessary items. Second, it will make your grocery trip shorter. Your toddler will get bored if you wander up and down every aisle, plus, shopping that way will inevitably lead you past the candy section.
3. Bring the stroller, or sit your child in the basket seat. You don’t want your toddler running loose in the grocery store. They might run away from you, or topple a display.
4. Bring a drink, snack and toy to amuse them. This helps stave off the requests for candy. Alternately, you could purchase something healthy while you are there, such as a whole wheat bun from the bakery or a piece of fresh fruit.
5. Don’t give in to demands for candy. There may be a few tantrums, but they will stop once the child realizes that they are not working.
These tips should help make grocery shopping with a toddler more manageable. Just remember to go easy on yourself and your child if there is the occasional tantrum, and to have fun with your child!