When you don't have the luxury to shop kid-free, utilize these tips to make things go smoother!

Infants & Babies

  • Aim to shop after feeding time so a hungry tummy isn’t an issue.
  • Play peek-a-boo or similar games. Smile often! This reinforces shopping as a happy experience and puts them at ease.
  • Bring along a few comfort items from home.
    • Familiar objects ease the nerves of being in public.
    • Give one toy/stuffed animal at a time. When the baby gets bored or fussy, switch it out for the next.

Toddlers

  • Is your 2-or 3-year old asking for treats down every aisle? Before you step into the store, decide whether or not they will be able to pick out a treat, and inform them of this decision. Either way, be sure to let them help choose flavors and colors of other items on your list.
  • Let them decide between apple or cranberry juice, the color of a toothbrush, yogurt flavor, pasta shape, etc.
  • Shop after a meal, or pack snacks from home if your kids usually complain about hunger while shopping. Also, heading to the store after a nap reduces the likelihood of tired tantrums!
  • Play "I Spy" with colors, shapes, and numbers.
  • Every toddler, no matter how good-tempered and angelic, will have tantrums or meltdowns from time to time. Instead of threats, long lectures or spanking, try empathizing. It may be that the child is hungry, tired, or just wants some attention.
  • Don't reward tantrums or give in to demands. If you give in once, this will become a standard for the future.

Preschoolers and Up

  • Help your shopping sidekick become more independent by letting him or her get items from the next aisle, pick out good produce (teach them what to look for and what to avoid– bruises, spots, etc.) and weigh it.
  • Have kids help you plan the upcoming menu at home and get coupons ready. At the store, have them read you the shopping list and do basic math. Nothing works subtraction skills like coupons!

And no matter the age, make sure to thank children for a job well done when you're finished!