Jennifer Shu, author of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup, said, “You may not realize it, but you're serving as a role model when you grocery shop with kids, especially when you stop to chat with them about healthy foods.”
And starting the road to healthy eating in a fast food-crazed world is only one benefit to taking your children grocery shopping. You also get to teach them what manners you expect in public and boost their motor skills and vocabulary. Here are few tips from Brunswick Crossing and WebMD to get the most out of your shopping trip:
Time your trip well. There’s no perfect time to go grocery shopping with little ones, but aim for post-naptime, so you have a well-rested baby. Along those lines, make sure you have enough time in the day to get through your entire list. Whether they are well-rested or not, taking a toddler is sure to add a few minutes to your trip.
Bring a familiar toy, blanket, or other item. Grocery stores are full of hustle and bustle, which could overwhelm your small child. To calm them down, pack your child’s favorite toy, blanket, book, or other item.
Set limits. Parenting gets a little harder when your kids start talking, right? This milestone affects everything, even a mere trip to the grocery store. Now, your toddler is asking for treats and trinkets. To avoid straying away from your grocery list, set limits to what they can and can’t have after a good trip. Make sure they are using their manners, and no whining or begging.
Get your kids involved. Grocery stores have mini carts to make kids feel like Mom or Dad, which is a great way to incorporate them into the trip without dragging them aisle to aisle. Parents can also request that their child be a special helper, and ask your kids to help hunt for coupons or seasonal produce. You can even make it an educational opportunity by asking, “What color is that apple?” or “How many bananas are in that bushel?”
Be cart smart. According to WebMD, “an American Academy of Pediatrics study revealed that more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 were treated...for injuries related to shopping carts [in 2005]. Cart tip-overs, becoming trapped by a cart, and being run over by a cart were injurious to young kids, too.”
Remember to abide by any rules that the grocery store has regarding children and carts. Never let kids stand up in the cart, and don't let them ride on the front, back, or side. Lastly, when seated, use the seat strap for security.
Have an action plan for tantrums and fights. Sometimes, you have to leave the store because your child just won’t stop screaming. While that’s the polite thing to do for other shoppers, minimize tantrums and fights by keeping your kids occupied. However, if these hiccups do occur, have a plan of action.
Come prepared. You may be picking up groceries, but don’t forget to bring what you need from home, so you can save on the emergency splurge. Pack diapers, toys, snacks, and other everyday necessities in a small backpack.