Shopping with Toddlers
Much Needed Hints & Tips

Shopping with toddlers - Hints and tips to help you have peaceful shopping trips with little ones.

Recently I have seen a couple of mums struggling through their weekly or monthly shopping excursion with energetic or miserable toddlers. I remember the feeling when little one has a melt down in the shopping center and you feel like everyone is watching you thinking that you are such a terrible mother.


Secretly I think they are thinking: "Hmm, I remember those days" or "That's why I left my toddler at home with my Mum!"

Either way, over the years and with 4 toddlers (who eventually grew to be children who were perfect angels in shops) I picked up a few tips that I would like to hand onto the readers of this website.

Shopping With Toddlers Tips

  1. Plan Ahead. When shopping with toddlers plan ahead! Make sure you have your meals planned with the grocery list written out at the most, or at the least, have a shopping list for what you generally buy.
  2. Timing. Choose your timing! Make sure your shopping time does not coincide with potty times (for toddler with predictable bowels), meal or sleep times.
  3. Hit and run! Do not be sidetracked in your grocery shopping. Hit the things on your list, pay and go.
  4. Pack a toddler bag! For longer shopping trips, pack a bag for your toddler with finger snacks and a toy or two.
  5. Talk to your toddler. Keep them focused on what you are buying by talking about colors and shapes of things.
  6. Stay clear of the toy isle! I bet that 80% of the meltdowns are based around this isle, and the other 20% in the sweets and chips isle!
  7. Stay safe! When shopping with toddlers, never allow them to stand in the trolley. Accidents happen too quickly and a little one can topple out before you know it. Also never leave your child unattended in the cart or turn your back on them. There is an excellent download on the matter of Child Safety.
  8. Trolley Cover. Take a cover for the trolley chair. If your toddler is still young and small enough to fit into the provided trolley baby seat, cover it with a Shopping Cart Liner like this one. It protects your child from germs and keeps it clean for the next trolley user. It is also an indication to your child, as to what is going to happen next.


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You And Your Toddler

If these tips do not bring some semblance of peace to your shopping trips, you may consider shopping once a week when you can arrange for someone to watch over your toddler at home.

This was what I did by the time my 3rd child had outgrown the baby sling. There just wasn't space in the shopping cart for another child.

Moms tend to feel guilty when shopping with toddlers for all sorts of silly things, but if shopping without your toddler results in a mom feeling more relaxed, then do it! Maybe you will be better focused, shop quicker and have time to fit in a latte before you go home!

Also take a peep at this page about making money whilst shopping with your children. Read the full account, but yes I would get paid £50 per visit to a shop of my choosing. My Kids would each receive £25 in Amazon vouchers. (Cash cannot be given to children). My children would not be approached, spoken to, nothing. I would be instructed to walk them down an aisle and stay for a few minutes. My children would be observed to see what caught their eye! That was it, easy money.

Character Building

Shopping With Toddlers

If you haven't got the opportunity to leave your toddler at home and they are prone to tantrums and wriggling out of the trolley, then you have an opportunity to focus on training your child's character.

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Prepare your child beforehand with exactly what you expect from them during the time at the shop. You can also let them know consequences for good and bad choices. For example, when they choose to walk quietly beside the cart with you and help you find things, you will allow them too.

However, if they run away from you, or tantrum when you say "no" to something, you will place them back in the seat.

Sometimes it worked saying that you were shopping for their lunch/dinner, and ask them to look out for certain items. Or the old "the quicker we are out of here, the sooner you can.... do something.

Nothing is 100%, as soon as you think you have cracked it, the tide changes, and you have to reinvent your shopping mastery all over again.

You can also reinforce good choices in the shop by rewarding them after the fact. Or example: "Liam, you have been so helpful, at the checkout I will let you choose a small sweet."

Shopping activities

Up until my children were well into preschool years, I always had a shopping corner set up for them. This moved around as children were added and homes were changed, but it was always there.

You can buy plastic food (wood and material now too!), purchase a Little Shopping Cart and set up some shelves like I did.

I also used to keep old boxes and containers from our own products which were taped closed and became part of the shop.

When my children were of early school going age, we played many shop games which introduced them to the concept of money and change.

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