Shopping with a toddler can be quite...interesting, to say the least. Whether you are likely to resort to bribery or promises that you are unable to keep, influencing a young child to "co-operate" during a shopping experience can be pretty tricky.
Rather than pulling out those junk-food treats to calm the wild beast before the arrival of a potential tantrum, here are some handy-dandy tricks that will allow the shopping experience with your toddler become a little less stressful; and, dare we say, more enjoyable (for both you and your little one).
Read bellow for ten ways to enhance a shopping experience with a toddler.
10 PREPARE A LIST
The good intentions begin well before you've left the house. As long as you and the toddler are in good spirits, bringing in the good vibes before you depart on your shopping adventure will absolutely help enhance your experience.
A great way to excite the child is with a list that they've assisted with in making. Of course at the age of 2-3 their reading skills won't be advanced enough to write a full groceries list of the fruits and vegetables that are needed for tonight's dinner, but pictures of the items will do just as well.
Allow the child to prepare for the trip by colouring in the items you've drawn. Whether it is for groceries or clothing, this will be a great visual aid when choosing the tangible items in-store. The toddler will feel incredibly rewarded when and if they spot their items on the list before you do.
9 HAVE THEM DRESS THEMSELVES
Once you have that list sorted and in-hand, allow the child to choose their attire. Again, we are preparing them for a fun and exciting shopping trip!
Their independency truly flourishes when you allow them to have a choice: especially a choice that involves their clothing.
As long as it's weather appropriate, have them pick which ever jacket, shoes and hat they'd like to wear on their shopping adventure. Encourage them to dress themselves, as well!
8 BRING A SMALL ACTIVITY
This no-brainer tip may be easily forgotten when you've thought of all the potty-routes you may need to use, snacks and water you must'nt forget to bring, and of course — the extra change of clothes in case of a bad blow-out!
Keeping a small activity like a small etch-a-sketch or note pad and pen in your Baby Bag may come in handy when the toddler won't sit still in the shopping cart. Or won't stop pulling that toy off the shelf that's conveniently merchandized at eye-level. Or, if you just simply need to take a potty break yourself and need a minute or two to gather up your things on the way in (or out).
7 PLAY I-SPY
Whether you are asking your toddler to keep their eyes peeled for the toilet-paper rolls in order to distract them from that new, plush toy that's right in their eye's view, or relating back to that grocery list that we recommend you create, playing a quite and easy game of I-Spy will be fun, distracting and take up more time than you expect.
I-Spy is undoubtedly a fun and easy game to play. It also takes plenty of (much needed) time for the toddler to find the thing that you've spied on. Thus, it buys you- the adult, enough time to actually concentrate on what you're actually there to do: shop.
6 SPECIAL TREAT
Allowing the child to choose a "special treat" while at your destination does not have to be done in such a resentful and desperate-for-any-option-to-stop-them-from-whining exercise.
If you're at the groceries store, allow them to choose their favourite fruit to snack on while in the store (of course, don't forget to pay while checking out).
If you're at the clothing store, allow them to choose the colour of socks they'd like to buy. This can simply be their "treat" for when they arrive home.
5 BABY BAG
Again, allowing the toddler independence is incredibly rewarding for both you and child. And don't forget: Baby-see, Baby-do. But, in this case: Toddler-see, Toddler-do-it-them-selves-thank-you-very-much.
Allow them to carry their own bag. Or (if the shop has them) push their own toddler-sized cart.
Of course, keep an eye on them to ensure they're not pulling random objects like toys, candy and God knows what else into their own, little bag. But, have fun with it!
Recommend items that you'd like them to grab on their own. They'll absolutely love doing it themselves.
4 "DON'T LET ME FORGET"
By repetition, children at very young ages learn quickly when a sentence or idea is repeated. Within this article from Baby Centre, they explain how at the age of 2, children begin repeating words and phrases that they've heard a lot of.
When preparing for a shopping trip, simply ask them to remind you of an item you must purchase before leaving the store. Whether it's, "Please don't let me forget the bread, sweetie!" or, "Can you please remind me to pick up some extra t-shirts for your brother?" Sentences you believe to be too complex may be retained in your little one's brain easier than you expect.
Don't forget to repeat this specific idea. Once at the location you may ask, "Honey, what was it that I must not forget to buy today?" You'll be surprised at their ability to guess the right answer.
3 HELP WITH CHECK OUT
Young children love to assist. Encourage them to help with the check out process.
Whether it's placing the items on the conveyor belt or handing the cashier their parent's credit card, any step in the process will reward them with pride and honour.
2 HELP UNLOAD
A very simple way to encourage the fun in a shopping trip with a toddler is by allowing them to help unload the goodies that have just been purchased.
By placing the items on the floor (rather than counter top), direct the child to organize the items by owner, places in the home they must go, or where they belong in the kitchen (for example: the fridge or kitchen cabinet).
Having the toddler a part of the process, no matter how big or small, will encourage them to believe that shopping is not a chore, but a fun activity full of adventure and exploration.
1 INCORPORATE AT STORY-TIME
By bed time, incorporate a fun reminder of how much the child has helped it today's shopping experience. Explain how much fun you had, as well.
By reflecting on such a great experience, the toddler will be encouraged to help out more often. It will also make shopping a less stressful and a more exciting experience for you.