Monday, July 2, 2012

Successful Grocery Shopping With A Toddler And Baby

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked how I manage two little ones in the grocery store. After I talked her ear off for awhile, I realized this was something worth blogging about. Because taking two kids (especially a toddler and a baby) to the store is not easy!

When Joseph was a newborn, I never took both kids with me when I needed to shop. Dan was home for 6 weeks, so I either went by myself, sent him, or just took Stephanie. Even when he went back to work, it was another few weeks before I ventured out with both little ones. (One of us would grocery shop at night or we would all go together on the weekends.)

Once I decided it was time to bite the bullet and take them both out by myself, I found the Ergo Carrier to be a lifesaver. I plopped Joseph in that thing, put Stephanie in the front of the cart, and was able to shop no problem.

If Joseph was sleeping, I kept him in his car-seat and put it in the back of the cart, with Stephanie up front. (This method doesn't leave a lot of room for groceries, but I can't bring myself to put the car-seat up front. It just doesn't seem safe, and our Combi Car-seat doesn't have the right ridges to fit correctly up there anyway.) On trips where I did this, I would shop several times a week and only buy a few things at a time. I was able to squeeze some things next to the car-seat in back, and put others up front with Stephanie.

Now that Joseph is older, he sits up front and Stephanie sits in the back. (Dan lectured me for this, saying the carts say right on them "Do not let children ride in the back." But you know what? It's the easiest way to shop, and she is super well behaved back there. It works for us for now!) This allows me to do a big shopping at one time, which is so nice because I don't have to run to the store 3 or 4 times a week.

I'm lucky that my kids are both typically well behaved in the store. Some of the things I do to stave off tantrums include:

-Timing it right. I go in the morning when everyone is rested from the night and has a belly-full of breakfast. (Joseph typically snoozes on the way, so he's extra rested when we get there. That's the one benefit of living at least 15 minutes from the nearest grocery store.) If we don't make it there in the morning, we go after naps. The same rested principle applies.

-Snacks. When Stephanie was younger, she always had a snack-trap during grocery trips. Now, she enjoys getting a piece of cheese and/or turkey at the deli. I don't typically bring a snack from home in for her anymore, since she doesn't really need it. But I plan to bring one for Joseph as he gets older and isn't quite as amazed by the lights and people as he is now. (I firmly believe that Stephanie is well-behaved because I exposed her to stores when she was little. She's always been in that environment, and has learned how to behave while I shop. I'm hoping the same principle will apply to Joseph as he gets older.)

-As I mentioned above, Joseph has so many things to look at that he doesn't get bored. I also chat with him as I shop, which keeps him entertained.

-Stephanie loves to be my helper. I hand her items and she stacks them, groups them together, and sorts them. She also helps me put things on the conveyor belt when we're finished. She always chats with the cashiers and baggers, and often charms them so much that they give her a sticker.

-Once in awhile we use the big cars for Stephanie at the store. (The "beep-beep" cars as she calls them.) She does great staying in them, but they are SO difficult to maneuver! I'm always glad when there isn't one available for our use.

-On the occasions that Stephanie (or Joseph) does get cranky, I use distraction as a technique. I hand Joseph something from my purse to hold, or use his pacifier as a last resort. With Stephanie, I can typically just talk her out of it, by reminding her that if she has a tantrum she doesn't get to help me load the groceries onto the belt. She loves doing this job, so that reminder is usually enough to curb the crankies.

-Lastly, I make sure to praise both kids for a job well done. On the way home we talk about what a nice pleasant trip it was because everybody was happy and nobody had a tantrum. I know Joseph doesn't understand what I'm saying yet, but it's never to early to talk things through with them!

If you take two or more kids grocery shopping with you, feel free to share some tips and tricks that you find useful!

This picture is from Joseph's first time in the front of the shopping cart. I thought this double seater cart at BJs was a great option, until Joseph pulled Stephanie's hair, grabbed her hand and just generally annoyed her the entire time. We haven't repeated this option since ;) 



  1. Great tips!!! I totally agree with you that exposing children to stores and restaurants when they are little and training them how you want them to behave brings major benefits later! I usually shop with 4 kids and follow a lot of the same tips that you have.

    I would suggest once Stephanie is 3 yrs old you let her walk. Hand her your list to keep up with. And keep up a running conversation with her. Say things like "Next we need to find the bananas. Hmm... do you know where the bananas are? I need your help finding them." And then guide her to them. She probably already knows where your frequently purchased items are in the store. Another great game is to count as you put apples (or whatever fruit) in the bags. Once she can count to 10 then start counting backward as you place items in the bag. And last but not least - the letter game. "Let's see if we can find a fruit that starts with the letter B. Hey! *B*anana starts with B. (Emphasize the B sound) Do you know any other words that start with B? What about Ball? Etc.. Talking to your kids as you walk through the store is a great way to build their skills, give them your attention, and keep them out of trouble. :D

    1. Thanks for those tips! I'll definitely keep them in mind when Stephanie gets a little older :)

  2. We tried one of those carts at BJs too and it didn't last long. Lilly was way too excited and wouldn't leave Abby alone! I agree with all your tips, especially timing... it's crucial! I can see where your hubs is coming from, but sometimes you just have to put the bigger ones in the back. Abby likes walking (running) around but if she gets out of hand then I have to put her back there.


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