A Mom’s Guide to Grocery Shopping with a Toddler

By: Melanie Anderson

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I walk through the grocery store every week and see the same stressed faces on parents with toddlers. I used to be this way.

First, it would start with a pit in my stomach the morning of. Then, a “you can do this” pep talk to myself on the car ride there. Then we get there, and all hell breaks loose when we walk through that door.

Here are some tips to being stress-free with your toddler at the grocery store!

  1. Prepare your shopping trip ahead of time. The key to being in and out in the shortest amount of time takes planning. Make yourself a list and post it next to your door so you don’t forget it.
  2. Morning grocery shopping is usually less hectic for us. The stores are not as packed with people and we are usually happy from a good nights sleep.IMG_0486
  3. Give your child a task or tasks to do while you’re shopping. I make a grocery list with pictures. I find something from every aisle and put it in order of how the store is set up. Then he has to find that item in each aisle. It keeps him engaged and busy; and in turn, less likely to throw a fit in aisle 1-20!
  4. If your child does have a melt down, don’t panic. Stop what you are doing and get down on your knees to their eye level. No, this isn’t where you beg and plead for them to stop. You look them in the eyes and tell them exactly what it is you want them to do. Be firm and speak with a calm but assertive tone of voice.
  5. Give high fives and be interactive throughout your shopping trip. Let them grab the bags in the produce aisle. Let them pick an apple or two and put it in their own bag. Ask them questions or play I spy. When you show your child you’re relaxed, your child has a much better chance of being relaxed too. 
  6. Bring a treat for a job well done. If you don’t want to purchase an item at the checkout, such as a book or a sweet treat, then bring one with you and leave it in the car for the ride home. A job well done deserves a small reward. A bottle of wine is always nice treat for yourselftoo!  

The grocery store isn’t a fun place for adults even when you don’t have children. A little attentiveness and pre-planning goes a long way! 

Once you get into a rhythm, the grocery store can become a place that doesn’t feel like a chore.


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