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Tips for Surviving the Grocery Store with Kids

Tips for Surviving the Grocery Store with Kids

Something as seemingly simple as a quick trip to the grocery store can be made more complicated when you have little travel companions alongside you. Do you struggle with keeping everyone calm and under control at the grocery store? Our Family Room bloggers share tips and strategies for making grocery store trips with kids a little smoother.

Next time you find yourself on the verge of having to corral a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store, keep these parenting ideas in mind.

Tips for Successful Grocery Store Trips with Children

Child with a grocery store cartKris-Ann, Progressive Mom: Get your kids involved with the shopping list. If they can read, have them read what’s on the list aloud. If they can’t read, take a few extra moments to prepare a list with pictures of the items you’re looking for. We also let our boys choose something they want for their lunchboxes and try to turn that into an “exciting” scavenger hunt. When all else fails, spend a few moments at the lobster tank or abandon your cart and go home. I’ve been known to do both!

Media Mom: I rarely take my children to the grocery store, but if I do take them, it’s typically to a smaller store with a very specific mission – i.e. buying the ingredients for something we’re baking or shopping for the frozen foods we get from Trader Joe’s. I do try to bring my 7-year-old with me to pick out fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market, and that tends to work nicely, but my 3-year-old and groceries are often a recipe for disaster. It’s important to know what your child can handle.

Amy, Nourish Mom: The best advice I ever received about taking children to the grocery store is to set expectations before arriving. Let children know what sort of behavior is appropriate for the grocery store and what the shopping goals are. My children love to beg for sweets and other non-healthy snacks. I let them pick one or two and stick to it. I find this helps to give them some ownership in the shopping process. Despite my best efforts, there are naturally those moments – like recently when my precocious almost 3-year-old nearly toppled a full cart on himself. I try to make those incidences into teachable moments when possible but I also never hesitate to cut a shopping trip short when one of the kids has passed the “reasoning” stage and just needs to be done. Oh, one more thing – I try to go to the store soon after the kids have eaten a meal or snack. They are intolerable when hungry!

Kate, Rookie Mom: If at all possible, don’t bring your child when you are making a big stock-up trip or when you’re in super rush. If I need to run out to grab a few things, I build it up to Liam on the way and give him a job – counting the apples, spotting the pasta and then holding the box, etc. It takes only a tiny bit longer and as a result, he now loves it when I tell him we need to stop at the store on the way home. Make sure you check to see if your local grocer has a kids program too – most will give kids a card and a healthy snack of some kind And, if you have trouble fitting the grocery trips into your week, consider grocery delivery (this is something Mary has recommended in the past). We’ve been using it for a while now and I’m kind of obsessed.

Lisa: Go the day they have food sampling. My daughter loves to snack her way through the store. And sometimes she ends up trying foods that she might not at home!

Heather: Snack. Both bringing them to eat while shopping and letting your older child choose a new snack.  We also used to do a scavenger hunt – from the shopping cart we would search for something purple or something with a sun on it.

Jessie: For an older infant or young toddler, find something that makes noise – such as a box of animal crackers – and let them hold it and shake it to keep them occupied.

Allison: Whenever I know I’ll have to bring my child to the grocery store, whether it’s to pick up a few things or to shop for the week, I always let her make her own list. We put some of the snacks and lunch items she’ll be packing for school, as well as one ‘mystery’ item. This way, she is choosing what she’ll be eating for snack and lunches (with a bit of guidance from me, of course). The mystery item allows her to buy ONE thing that isn’t on our list. She can choose whatever she wants from the store. This saves us from buying things that aren’t on our list, and gives her the freedom to make the decision herself. If the store has the rolling baskets, she usually takes one of those that she pulls around herself for her items. She’s so focused on finding her things and crossing them off of her list that she isn’t hanging on me whining the entire time! We also try to go at a time when it isn’t too busy (a week night as opposed to the weekend).


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