11 Super Helpful Tips For Shopping With Kids

by | Mar 10, 2017 | 0 comments

Do grocery stores absolutely terrify you as much as they do me, wishing you had a few tips for shopping with kids to avoid tantrums?

You see, it’s not the store itself that scares me. It’s the thought of said imminent tantrum that will presumably follow about ten minutes after walking through the grocery store doors.

When you are a kid, entering a large supermarket is like entering a new world full of infinite possibilities. And every time, parents can only hope and think – “Please let this be the time my child is a little angel. This trip will be a breeze right? A quick ride to the checkout lines!”

Shopping with kids of any age can be pretty tough. Kids simply don’t understand why you cannot buy all those candies and gadgets. For many parents, the easiest thing is to just give in to their demands.

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Luckily, my daughter has been doing really well in the store lately.

I credit that to these foolproof tips for shopping with kids!

So is there a way to buy only what you need without having kids leave in tears?  The answer is YES! Check out my 11 tips below…


Tips for Shopping With Kids #1:

Plan Around Nap-Time = No More Meltdowns

I learned this tip the hard way. Hell hath no fury on a sleepy toddler! This is probably one of those things I should’ve automatically known the second my daughter was born, but I blame mom brain.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid a child’s meltdown is to just not bring them with you.  However, that’s not always an option.

If you have to go shopping with kids, ensure that they are:

  • well-rested
  • not hungry
  • and not sick!

I still remember the first tantrum my daughter ever threw while we were out. I won’t go into too much detail, but picture this: screaming, crying, food knocked over in almost every aisle.

Plan your time accordingly so that your child will not spend more than an hour in the store.  The average shopping trip takes around 40 minutes, so if you plan your trip right by shopping an hour before nap-time, you will get home just in time to put your little munchkin down for their nap.  And you can (fingers crossed) put your groceries away in peace!


Tips for Shopping With Kids #2:

Go Shopping Early

One of my favorite tips is timing. Choose the time when supermarkets aren’t crowded so you can avoid crowded aisles and delays in the checkout lines.

If you have the flexibility to choose the time and the day when you go shopping, choose mornings – as early as you can. Parking is easy, the shop is empty, kids are happy because it’s not a nap or a meal time.

You will also see a lot of like-minded families in the store. It’s probably because kids get up early and shopping is a great activity to get them out of the house.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #3:

Get Them Involved  – Let Them Help You

Even if you have a little kid, you can always ask him to help you. It will make the child excited about shopping and the whole activity will go much smoother and faster.

While parents are trying to remember what they need to buy, kids get bored and start looking around for toys and candies. Let them get involved and help you. This will keep them busy and active.

More and more grocery stores have started offering miniature “kid-sized” carts perfect for a toddler or a young child to push around. These carts are a great way to let your little one help you with the shopping.

There are many ways kids of different ages can help. Younger children can help you make decisions in the store. Ask them to decide between two items; what do they want more – broccoli or green beans. Older kids can help you make the list at home and check things off in the store. Children of all ages can help you find the right items on the shelves and pull them off to place in the cart, and they can put items onto the conveyer belt.

To add to the fun, make a game out of it.

Playing games like “I Spy” to find the broccoli or pasta not only makes grocery shopping more fun, but it can also help your kiddo learn situational awareness.

Give them your shopping list and ask them to find an item. Or have a Q&A quiz game on origins of fruits and vegetables.  Then, you can reward children with healthy treats at the end! You know they will love that part.

Which brings me to the next tip.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #4:

Offer Good Behavior Rewards

Some people may not believe in good behavior rewards, but positive reinforcement has a ton of benefits to your child’s behavioral development.

If you use a sticker chart with your little one, this is an easy but small task to add. If you aren’t familiar with a sticker chart system, it is basically a weekly chart that marks positive or negative things that happen throughout the week, and offers a reward for a certain amount of positive stickers.

Most people use this for potty-training and chores, but I know a few people who use charts to mark good behavior as well.  After your little one receives so many stickers, offer them a reward (big or small is up to you). Therefore, they will be more likely to repeat their good behavior.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #5:

It’s Okay To Say Yes

If you know that your child is always whining for something, before you even enter the store let them choose & agree on one thing they are allowed to get on that trip.

This will help you discuss acceptable items in advance. Moreover it will help you avoid the nagging and wanting every item they see when walking up and down every aisle.

This way, you won’t spend too much money on frivolous items here and there. And you can prevent your child from trying to pick something too expensive.

If they ask anyways, just remind them about your agreement.

Did you ever think grocery shopping alone would be the highlight of your day? Have kids. 😉 Click To Tweet


Tips for Shopping With Kids #6:

Break Open Their Piggy Banks

If your child is a little older and has been saving money and wants to spend it on something in the store, tell them it’s all right to open their piggy bank.

Tell your child that they can only get what they can afford. To prepare, get an idea of how much the item costs by looking online in advance.

Then this way your child will know what they will be buying that day and how much they will be spending.  Bonus – this also helps them prepare for budgeting in the future.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #7:

Have A Plan For Fights

At any rate, this depends on your kids. If you often leave the store because the kicking, screaming and crying has started, this one is for you.

The most common problem is when siblings start fighting. If this happens, have the children separate themselves from each other. Have one walk by you and another walk in front.

You can also give each child the task of finding different items down the same aisle. Or make them hold onto different sides of the cart.

What can work is having the upset child come and walk close to you. If you have toddlers, have them sit in the cart’s seat. If you have an older child, stop and talk them calmly. Try to redirect their attention to something else.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #8:

Have Snacks Handy

My daughter LOVES to eat, so having snacks on hand is a necessity with us. It’s gotten to the point where we have to spell out S-N-A-C-K-S in conversation because God forbid we mention it and don’t have any to offer her.

I know my daughter isn’t the only one, so chances are your little ones are snack monsters too. Having light and easy snacks on deck will make every shopping trip a little bit easier.

Snacks like cheerios or trail mix are the perfect tantrum busters for grocery tantrums. If your little one is still in the teething stages like mine, Happybaby Organic Teething Wafers are some really easy, no clean-up snacks that I’m sure your little one will love. I know they’re my daughter’s absolute favorite.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #9:

Screen Time

You can judge me if you want, but I promise I do not let my daughter glue herself to TV’s or iPads all day. As a matter of fact, we don’t watch much TV at all.

Unless your little one is some weird crazy perfect child from outer space, chances are they would rather watch a show or play a game than anything else.

Kid’s learning tablets like these, have fun educational apps so your kiddos can actually learn something and have fun while you get the shopping done. It’s a win-win for everyone!

If your little one is really little (infancy/ early toddler), tablets may not be the best toy for them. Luckily, there are tons of educational toys for babies to keep them busy here.


Tips for Shopping With Kids #10:

Know Your Grocery Store

I’m not saying you need to study the building’s blueprints or anything, but knowing the areas that correspond to the items on your list will make your mission so much faster and easier.

This may seem like a difficult task, but honestly, you probably already know the layout. Think about it before you head into the store next time.

For example, I’ve been to my local grocery store so many times that I know each aisle like the back of my hand. I know where to go for each item I need.

* And last, but certainly not least – my favorite out of all these tips:

Tips for Shopping With Kids #11:


We’ve all done it. I know I’ve forgotten mine countless times.

Forgetting your list can be disastrous, so I’ve started using a notepad app in my phone so I know I’ll always have it handy.

Now, you may not think you need a list. But how many times have you gone to the store with your kids and as you’re walking out, you realize you forgot milk and eggs?

If you’ve got a screaming toddler or children arguing and fighting, going back inside is a no-go.  So you just have to go without until the next time you go to the store.  Obviously, that situation isn’t ideal. That’s why you need to make sure you always have a list on hand, or at least in your phone!

Picture of mom's life hacks logo cartoon light bulb with a heart filament MLH Tip: Along with having your list, it’s also important to keep the list in “aisle order.”  In other words, write down all of your produce together, your dairy items together, etc. so you only need to go down an aisle once. This avoids unnecessary extra time added onto your shopping trip.

Bother and sister in grocery store produce isle mom is using tips for shopping with kids

Having the perfect grocery store trip where there is no crying or tantrums is a dream for any mom. Hopefully this list of tips for shopping with kids helps you achieve that dream like it has for me.

What if everything fails?!

If games and shopping lists don’t work, or your children are too young to search the aisles and help you, offering the above entertainment while they are sitting in the cart’s seat can buy you the time that you need.

You can set “quiet time”, reward kids with healthy treats and praise good behavior to make the shopping activity a little bit easier for everyone.

Do you have any tantrum busting grocery hacks? Share them below!

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Writing and blogging has always been an interest of Melissa’s, but never something she pursued until recently. She is an avid reader, collecting books for the library in her home. She says “there is no such thing as too many books”. Her obsession with books and reading is what turned her towards writing. She is a sunny South Florida native with a passion for traveling the world. She loves coffee, Gilmore Girls, dinosaurs, bright lipsticks, she is a vegan and loves all animals. She is a proud mom to one adorable fur-baby, and a loving aunt to two nephews.