Apr 292015
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grocery shopping with little kidsGrocery shopping is not at the top of my list of happy places. But, I like to eat so therefore I must go grocery shopping. How I’ve grocery shopped has significantly changed since having kids. I have used grocery delivery services, shopped under cover of darkness, taken only one kid with me, and even tried shopping as a family. Now I just take them both with me.

I was terrified taking twins shopping by myself. I have heard so many horror stories of moms bailing on a cart full of groceries and everyone leaving in tears. I see so many kids throwing themselves on the floor screaming because mom said “no” to a precious, life affirming toy they want. I did not want any of those things. So, I devised a plan and executed it with military like precision.

Here are 5 Tips for Shopping With Little Kids:

1. Keep their eyes on that prize. As soon as I found a store that gives kids balloons for free I completely used that to my advantage. The second we walk in I point to the balloons at the customer service counter and say, “see they only give out balloons to kids who aren’t screaming or crying. Do you want a balloon? Then we need to listen, follow directions and use our manners.” BOOM! Now if anyone so much as whimpers I hold that balloon idea hostage.

2. Beware of Joe Pesci. The golden rule of parenting is never let them get hungry. Ever. You will be powerless against your hungry little pack. Make sure you have fed everyone before leaving the house (including yourself). Keep the snacks flowing in the car, in the store, and even in the parking lot. Just DON’T let them get hungry. We like to stop by the deli counter to get a slice of cheese. Hey, it’s protein!

candy candy candy

3. Don’t stop the cart. When you stop the cart you let the whining begin. Keep moving the kids through the store. Don’t stop to read labels and don’t stop to chat. That only allows kids to see all the colorful fun things they are going to want. Make like a super market sweeps contestant and keep running! We only stop long enough to get a free cookie at the bakery at the end of our shopping trip. The kids are so busy chewing their treat no one is complaining on the way to the car.

4. Little hands make light work. Just because the kids are contained in a shopping cart does not mean they are not gonna earn their keep. I put those little kids to work. In the produce aisle they take turns counting the items as they put them into the bags. In the rest of the store they take turns piling items inside the cart. One kid is usually buried under the paper goods and cereal, but she is still gonna help out!

5. Pull out your mom card. Do NOT bag your own groceries. Haven’t you done enough just getting the kids through the store without leaving a path of destruction in your wake? Yes, you have. You worked hard, so damnit that young kid swiping your grocery items over the scanner can do you a solid and put it directly into a bag. If anyone gives you a questioning look, just look exhausted and shout at your kids to keep their hands to themselves. Then sigh, “ugh kids. Am I right?” That usually garners enough sympathy to motivate someone to bag my groceries.

How do you survive the grocery store with little ones?

About Roxanne Ferber

Roxanne is a full time wife, twin mama and part time crazy lady. She is a charitable giver and a former Marketing Executive turned write-from-home mom. Roxanne lives on coffee, wine and the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. In her spare time she enjoys meeting other moms who keep life real- crafting, organizing and hiding veggies in her kid’s food. Find her at The Whatever Mom.

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  141 Responses to “5 Tips For Grocery Shopping With Little Kids”

  1. I do NOT miss the days of shopping with little ones lol. Though having a 17 year old son shopping with me isn’t much different…..

  2. Ah I always end up buying so much more. They just love everything snack like!

  3. I shop every week with two kids in tow. The snacks are the biggest thing for mine. Keep them fed and I can get through it.

  4. I have definitely battled the grocery store trip laden with kids! I try to keep trips short with a prepared list of what I need ahead of time. That seems to help. My kiddos do okay as long as we keep it relatively quick and there’s a stop at the deli for a slice of cheese or the bakery for a cookie! Also, as they are getting older, they can be helpful finding a certain item in the aisle…this keeps them busy!

    • I agree quick in and out! The amount of prep work involved with shopping with kids is like packing for a vacation sometimes! 😉

  5. I must be the weird one lol! I love taking my kids grocery shopping and always have, and they’re 10 months apart in age. I am a SAHM so I just enjoy getting out of the house even just to the store. It’s usually all of us though that end up going.

    Definitely a good idea to find something to keep them busy at younger ages.

  6. And this is why I usually do my grocery shopping while my husband stay home and watches them, because I seriously can’t take dealing with any more aggravation than I already have!

  7. Great tips for people with kids. I have never had to plan to go to the store other than remembering my list.

  8. I use a $5 tactic. If one or both of the kids are with me, I tell them they can spend five bucks on anything they want… they spend their time deciding, revising, and considering… not asking for stuff. Works like a charm, even for the teen who likes to spend hers in the makeup/nails section. 😉

  9. I love going grocery shopping. Without the kids.

  10. I love this! Shopping with a 6 year old and 1 your old is no bueno. Who makes you bag your own groceries?? In my neck of the woods they always do it for you.

    • There are lot of places around here that make you bag your own groceries unless you ask. With kids, I would always ask to make sure my groceries were being bagged for me! My hands were already full.

  11. My kids are older and I can’t get them to come to the grocery store with me. Thinking back on when they were young, I recall it being an adventure each time we would go.

  12. I have no kids but have observed and sympathized with those Mom’s and Dad’s who have screaming meanies in their carts. Strangely enough I have seen Dad’s just leave the cart–pick up the kid and hightail it out of the store–not Mom’s though-they are made of sterner stuff.

  13. These are fantastic tips! Now that my older son is old enough to bag the groceries that keeps him occupied but my little guy is a pro at sneaking stuff off the shelves when my back is turned. I actually beg the hubby to keep them when I go to the store just so I’ll actually know what I bought when I get home.

  14. those are such fabulous tips! Never stop the cart… I have to master that! Thankfully my youngest is 8 and quite the experienced shopper by now and I enjoy bringing her along to help me with our regular shopping.

  15. Trader Joes has a Moose so the kids run looking for it. Plus kids carts keep them organized too

  16. These are helpful tips for shopping with kids. My irish twins are a handful as well so I put them to work.

  17. Great tips! My main tip from my nanny of triplet boys and their baby brother days is to stop at the bakery first for a cookie, and then HURRY UP. LOL

  18. I am lucky that my youngest is usually well behaved in the grocery store and his favorite treat/reward is the little cherry tomatoes he gets to eat as soon as they are paid for. Our store here has a play area for kids – perfect for many parents to drop their kids in the play area where they are watched by a store member while the parent shops.

    • My usual cashier and I were just day dreaming about that at our local store. It would be great for moms and kids…everyone gets what they need! Love it!

  19. My tips are wear the baby, put the toddler to work. We want three, so I am planning on how we can make them all team up to grocery shop for me!

  20. I don’t go grocery shopping with my kids at all. They act like little heathens and I just don’t have time for that. But these are really great tips for those that do 🙂

  21. You never, NEVER bring kids to shopping when they’re hungry. It’s a nightmare.

  22. These are great tips! I much prefer shopping without the kids but that is not generally a luxury I can enjoy so …. the car grocery carts usually are enough to get us through the longer ones, thankfully.

  23. Shopping with little ones is never easy. But you have a good list to survive the ordeal!

  24. The day Mariah could baby sit so I could go shopping without kids was the best day ever. They hate going and I hate taking them. Win-win!

  25. Great tips. I found that #2 was what made the difference in whether I had a good shopping trip or not. A full belly almost always guaranteed a good experience.

  26. This is funny. I love the grocery store that has the cart that are made to look like cars that are actually manageable too. (Bi-Lo) Those things make shopping a breeze with my three kids.

  27. Grocery shopping when our boys were little was always an adventure. It is definitely much easier now that they are older.

  28. I spent $40 on a gallon of milk today. I’ve got to keep focused and just say no to everything that isn’t exactly what we went in for.

  29. I’m not a Mom, but I really enjoyed reading this. I find no. 2 very very important and it’s an excellent tip to avoid buying unnecessary stuff wherein kids would use the “I’m hungry” card. I used to do that when I was little, lol.

  30. It makes sense to do these tips. I love taking my kids to groceries too.

  31. The first rule should be – DONT GO SHOPPING WITH LITTLE KIDS. LOL I say that because every time I go I wish I didn’t bring them for those very reasons. I like your idea about the cookie!!!

  32. Great tips. Do you have any for teens that sneak items in the basket when you’re not looking?

  33. I now have the freedom to shop by myself without my kid in tow. Thank goodness for his 8-4 class schedule! 🙂

  34. Making sure everyone is feed before going shopping is essential.

  35. Great tips! Yes the BEST advice you gave is Don’t Let Them Get Hungry!! 🙂

  36. haha – yes I agree – I let them bag my groceries almost every time. It’s part of their job, right? 🙂

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  37. Ha, I lost it at “Supermarket Sweeps” – sometimes I have to play that game in my head just to stay on budget and avoid impulse shopping!

  38. I am glad that my kids can help with the grocery shopping now. I use the cookie counter at Walmart as an incentive. I start in the back of the store and work my way forward to the cookie counter. If they are good, they get a cookie. 🙂

    I’ve seen moms open a bag of goodies in the store just to keep their lil ones quite because they were hungry.

  39. Oh lord I’m so glad we’ve gotten to the stage were I can use them to help and make a game of it .. lol

  40. LOL I think #2 is as important for the MOMS as it is the kids hahahaa I am SO thankful I never had any problems taking my girls to the store. We made it a game to make sure we got everything on the list and nothing else – and I put them in charge of the list – worked every time. Even before they could read – we learned letters by saying stuff like “ok here are apples – apples start with A right – so let’s find a word on the list that starts with A and see if we can find apples.” I LOVED shopping with mine when they were little. I find now that they are BIGGER they want one of everything HAHAHAHAAHA

  41. I do enjoy shopping with my kids now they are older and can participate. When they were exploring little toddlers it was much harder. Thanks everyone for reading and for your kind responses!!

  42. I get the kids to help me! They are old enough now that they can help me pick the items up and put them in the cart. as a “reward” we stop at the bakery and get a cookie if they are good. When they were little I just shopped alone.. way to stressful and it was my “break time”. LOL!

  43. My kids are usually good for the store, as long as they aren;t hungry! Great tips 🙂

  44. These are all tips to live by. Especially the one about making sure the kids aren’t hungry before you go!

  45. My girls have been trained to shop with me at the grocery store. They ask, they whine they beg but when I give them THAT LOOK.. they stop.

  46. Great tips. I don’t have kids yet but I will keep these in mind!

  47. Great advice for grocery shopping for people with kids! I will share with my friends:)

  48. These are some really good tips. Any parent would be wise to use them to make their grocery shopping experience better. Thank you for sharing them.

  49. These are great tips. I find that I must grocery shop alone. Even if I take my husband, he is worse than the kids for picking up unnecessary items!

  50. Those are great tips. I make sure to feed them before grocery shopping. Otherwise I will end up with a hefty bill

  51. I am terrible about going grocery shopping. I’m a lucky gal in that my hubby does most of it. When I do go I refuse to bring any kids with me. (and they are all teenagers) haha

  52. My boys used to be horrible. Not in a – they were bad kids – kind of way. They would pretend the cart was the Polar Express. They yank on the belt saying, “Stop the train.” They make sharp noises like the train was trying to stop on the tracks. It was so annoying. I finally got in the habit of making Mica write the list, and they both had to get thing off of it. That seemed to help.

  53. Haha, yea…shopping with little kids is…fun 🙂

  54. These are great tips! I have three children under the age of 7 so I can totally relate!

  55. I feel like a crazy person everytime I leave the grocery store and I have taken all three kids. Two I’m good with – but when I have all three – totally game changer!

  56. I don’t bring my kids grocery shopping! LOL. Most times I just get my husband to grab stuff, or I go… Could you imagine 6 of them with us???

  57. What fantastic suggestions. I particularly like the idea of holding the balloons as a hostage tool. I had 5 to contend with, yet they were always good at the store, especially when I let them place the items in the cart and count.

  58. These are great tips. You are absolutely right, a hungry child can make grocery shopping a pain. I love the “eyes on the prize” tip, I wish I knew that one when my kids were little.

  59. Ahhhh My daughter is now at that age where I regret taking her shopping with me every time -_- she grabs anything and everything. I miss taking a sleeping newborn to the store. Shopping was so simple back then lol.

  60. WOW! You have a grocery store that gives out balloons? That is so cool! Ours gives out free cookies from the bakery, but I’d much rather let my daughter have a balloon!

  61. These are really great tips! I have been lucky so far when shopping with my daughter, but every day she is asking more and more things when we go shopping. I usually try to let her help me as much as I can, so she is occupied and is not thinking on all the sweet stuff she wants.

  62. I never thought I’d get the point where I didn’t shop with little ones. I almost miss it and used all these tips. They work 🙂

  63. Great tips. When my son was little, I always made sure he was stuffed before we went shopping.

  64. Great tips! Grocery shopping with my kids was always a challenge when they were little.

  65. Haha… that is funny. Keep their eye on the prize. I guess whatever works.

  66. Shopping with kids can be hard. These are wonderful tips to help easily get through it!

  67. I dread taking my 5 kids with me shopping. It can be such a headache. Our bakery at the store gives free cookies to kids so I bribe them!

  68. I remember the days of shopping with little kids. These are good tips!

  69. Wow where were you when my son was younger. Of course now he is a teenager and I have to deal with mom I’m bored.

  70. Oh man, grocery shopping with the littles is SO stressful! I’m always pulling the mom card out! Works like a charm!

  71. Great tips! I haven’t had to shop with a little one in a long time, but distractions and being fast were always key.

  72. Usually at WalMart they bag my groceries which is nice. But I do keep the cart moving and that helps me a lot.

  73. these are very helpful tips especially shopping with little kids.

  74. Don’t stop the cart! I love that one! It’s huge and very true. Just keep going, grab and go! Don’t give them time to check stuff out or start a fight. LOL

  75. I have to keep my daughter in conversation the entire time we are shopping, so that she stays distracted. I also give her two options to pick from with some of the grocery items. Thankfully this has worked for us so far.

  76. I am so glad my kids are teenagers, so going to the grocery store is easier. BUT, they are constantly throwing stuff in the buggy and I have to take it back out!

  77. Well said. I tend to use the self service register now that my kids are young adults but my hubby hates it because as he says, with the prices we are paying we shouldn’t have to scan and bag our own groceries too.

  78. Good tips. My hubby takes our son as often as possible. He is not exactly an extreme couponer but he really kicks butt with saving money and tries to show our son how to do it too.

  79. My kids are usually pretty well behaved in a grocery store. My middle child used to think every time we went to the store he got a toy. I changed that idea REAL quick.

  80. These are all great tips. Once they reach the age of understanding .. they will know you are only there to buy groceries and maybe one snack or treat for them

  81. I survive grocery shopping with kids by not bringing them. Ha…Kidding..kinda. I definitely make sure they are not hungry while shopping which you’ve pointed out.

  82. Never letting them get hungry is key! You have to make it a food tour – suckers a banana in the produce section, cookies in the bakery, cheese in the deli, and a sucker in the pharmacy.

  83. LOL. This made me laugh. Some of these same things apply to brining your husband to the grocery store. 🙂

  84. Ha, ha, ha… Never let them go hungry – or tired. I like to do it first thing in the morning and have them help.

  85. This post makes me laugh. I know all about this oh so well. Shopping with kids is not fun.

  86. Oh boy, grocery shopping with a kid is difficult!

  87. I’m lucky that mine are bigger now but my oldest has 3 little ones. She really needs these tips.

  88. I am one that dislikes taking my kids to the store, especially when they were younger. I try to do my shopping when they are school. 🙂

  89. Our grocery store offers a “treasure chest” for the kids to pick out a treat at the end of our shopping trip. On top of the cookie from the bakery, my shopping trips are a breeze!

  90. This is hilarious and true! I totally do anything I can to not go grocery shopping with my 3 kids!

  91. Thanks for the tips! I really don’t like doing grocery shopping so anything helps

  92. Funny but so true! I pick out a fun snack at the beginning and remind them that if they ask for anything, that one thing gets put back.

  93. These are great tips for shopping with kids!! I know my sister in law has always said it is an adventure.

  94. These are all great tips! I also think if the kids are old enough, giving them things to find in each aisle, like a scavenger hunt or making them the “helper” is sometimes enough to keep them occupied.

  95. Grocery shopping with kids is really an art. I don’t miss those days at all. These are great tips and to this day, I still need to learn to let the cashier bag my groceries.

  96. Oh boy, grocery shopping with little kids is a challenge. In fact, it could probably be added to the list of sports for the Olympics.

  97. These are fun and helpful tips to have a free melt down while doing grocery shopping. My kids are older so I give them the list and grab the stuff we need.

  98. This is a great post of possibilities for shopping with little ones – and yes I always had some snack for my toddler shopping and tried to make a game our of what we were doing – loved each tip – putting them to work in fun and educational ways is great!

  99. These are all great tips for shopping with little kids! I cannot agree more with not letting them get hungry!

  100. We always went as a team when we had little ones. It helped cut the shopping time in half.

  101. HA! I gave my son one of those cards that sings yesterday and that entertained him for about 30 minutes.. Open and close… open and close…. I have lots of other shoppers staring at me because the song was playing over and over, but who cares!!? He wasn’t screaming!

  102. Great tips!! I try to go alone but sometimes have to bring my kids… I like the “don’t stop” tip, haha. And we use the free cookie as a bribe, too.

  103. Great tips. I have kiddo bring her own money. That way if she spots something she thinks she has to have she has to spend her own money. We’ve been doing this for years and it seems to work out pretty well.

  104. Not going hungry is a good idea and we like to have them help too. Really though, even when we take the whole horde in, it’s never been too bad. Guess we are lucky that way.

  105. My daughter is actually a good little shopping companion these days. We did have a whine phase though. So glad that is over.

  106. I hadd to giggle on the Mom card. Gricery shopping for us is fun because the kids are so involved with us. They love getting the stuff that are on the list.

  107. These are some awesome tips for grocery shopping with little kids. I love the, don’t stop the cart, which is great advice. lol Thanks so much for sharing..

  108. This is great tips! When I have kids I will be sure to keep in mind to never shop with them on an empty stomach!

  109. Leave them home. It’s better if you can, but if not, these are great tips.

  110. I have a hard enough time shopping with my boyfriend. HIs eyes are bigger then his belly. I can use this tips on him.

  111. These are great tips! I have to say I prefer to grocery shop alone with my list.

  112. Great tips! I am also a free cookie grabber at the bakery. It’s a life saver!

  113. Oh gosh, I love this! LOL! It’s so true about stopping the cart. The minute I stop the cart is the minute the boys are all scattering like kittens!

  114. This is a GREAT list!! I loved the ideas of getting your kids involved! I am definitely going to use these tips when I have multiple kids!

  115. Thankfully, my kids are older now so I don’t have to prep ahead to take them shopping, Good tip for parents!

  116. Sounds so much fun and interesting. Though, I don’t have experience in shopping with kids, I think your idea might help me in future. These tips are going to be helpful for people with little kids.

  117. Luckily grocery shopping isn’t a hassle for us at the moment. My little guy is happy with a drink and some cheese while we go around the aisles.

  118. i used to go with my kids all the time no big deal but now my two youngest do not shop well, there is definitely lots of bribing. I need a store with free balloons that is awesome!

  119. These are great tips! I never bag my own groceries, and if I have to- I got my hubby there with me to do it. lol

  120. I rarely go to the grocery store with my son – I usually just send my husband with a list of the items needed since it’s easiest and quicker that way. I know that might not be practical for everyone but it works for us!

  121. I don’t have any little ones of my own yet, but my husband says I always act like a child when we go food shopping. He turns around for one second and I fill the cart with junk food and lots of candy haha.

  122. Grocery shopping with kids is an extremely arduous event. We had three young ones and it was not fun to try to do. These are great tips.

  123. We used to live near a grocery store that had a free childcare center in it. Kids had to be 3 to go but wow, was it a game changer!

  124. These are great tips. I have usually tried to not shop with my little ones when I can avoid it

  125. I hate bagging my own groceries when I have the kids around. I’ve put my foot down on that. Recently a bagger came up and was like “you got it right?” and I was like, “I wont prevent you from doing your job”. I had $200 worth of stuff and two kids with me. Great tips! 🙂

  126. I love the stores that offer the smaller carts. I would give my son his own list

  127. So true! I need to pull out the mom card more often. And no hungry kids!

  128. Grocery shopping with my little ones is such a chore. They get comfortable really fast and ask for everything in every aisle. I still enjoy taking them with me though.

  129. The never stop the cart tip made me laugh. That is virtually impossible. Maybe don’t stop the cart in the cookie aisle but for the entire trip might be a bit far fetched.

  130. OH isn’t that the truth!!! It’s so much work that I find it very relaxing to be able to go to the grocery store without kids lol

  131. These are dead on great perfect tips. I have six kids and I even learned something. Don’t stop the cart! Thats brilliant. Now I know what I am doing wrong lol. I am really bad at browsing for the right price and the right quality so I will stand in an isle for at least 5 mintutes. This is when I usually end up getting mad and leaving. Yes I have walked out with a basket full of groceries because my kids were not behaving. I never considered that they were crying out of boredom. I agree with the rest of the tips too. Especially keeping them fed or they will be wanting everything in the store.

  132. I am pretty lucky that my store offers tiny kids carts and we use that to our advantage. Gives me a little time to read labels and I 100% agree that feeding everyone is critical.

  133. THANK YOU for these tips! My one year old is the WORST at the store, lol