Top Tips For Shopping with Infants and Toddlersby Elizabeth MacDonald
Shopping with Babies and Toddlers: Oh How Life Has Changed.
The stories are endless: “Okay so I had to return a shirt I got for my husband last night at a department store.. I thought I would be super quick. I put on my tula and was going to put toddler in it, but he was very adamant about walking. I was able to get in line and return the shirt with him standing by me. After I was done, I made my way over to the cologne section to look for a gift and he was grabbing all the makeup and running around. I got what I needed and told him it was time to go and was trying to hold his hand and he went down like a wet noodle. He was laughing because he is lying on the floor not moving. I eventually grabbed him and did the football hold until he started screaming. I decided to try to put him on my shoulders like his daddy does all the time to make it to the car. Well bad idea!! I got him up there and he started arching his back so my instinct was to go forward so he didn't fall back, and the next thing I know he flipped over my head and I somehow grabbed his arms as he did a complete flip!! He was crying because he was so scared and I was about to cry because of what could of happened!! So we left and stopped at Krispy Kreme for some doughnuts!! Mama needed them as much as toddler did.” --anonymous.
This isn’t new. It’s happened to you, or it will happen to you. You can only be “Perfect Mom Shopper” so many times before your child(ren) make some sort of scene, you are asked to leave, or you start crying in aisle 4. I have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, so I have experienced it all. The screaming meltdowns, the inability to move from a single spot, the overwhelming need to pee with no bathroom in sight, etc. Worst of all, I have experienced the unkind stares and harsh words from strangers; as if my eyes didn’t sting from tears already – strangers somehow made it all worse. Shopping alone is a rarity in parenthood. I avoid shopping in person like the plague, hello amazon prime one-click! But there are a few things I have learned over the years about shopping with little ones.
My Top Tips For Shopping with Infants and Toddlers
- Use a Baby Carrier: ErgoBaby is my personal favorite, but there are several options out there. Make sure it is comfortable for you and baby/toddler. Oh – and make sure you are comfortable nursing in it, this will extend your shopping time and possibly provide an easy nap transition for baby.
- Talk to young children about what the trip is going to be like/establish rules if possible: Depending on age(s) this is easier said than done. With a sensory child, I remind him what a store will be like size wise and population wise. Will there be a lot of people? Long lines? Weird smells? These are things he needs to process before we enter. I think all kids would benefit from this. I also cover the rules of the day. We stay where Mama can see you, no running, no hiding, and voices need to be kept at an inside level.
- Eat First: Make sure that bellies are full. Any food smell will trigger hunger, or let’s face it – boredom will trigger hunger. So fill them (and yourself) up before leaving the house.
- Pack snacks: Without fail, every time we walk into a store, everyone is magically hungry. Pack more than one snack option.
- Use the potty: Potty-learning toddlers have a very short span of time to get to a potty before they have an accident. I travel with a potty in my trunk for this very reason. I seem to make sure that all of my children have used the bathroom, but I always forget to go myself.
- Go slow – kid pace if possible: The easiest way to trigger a meltdown is to go faster than your tot can manage. Imagine being their size and seeing so many legs everywhere. It has to be overwhelming to be told to “hurry up” and not even understand where they are going. Slow your pace and let your little one explore a bit.
- Bring a change of clothes: Poop happens. Puke happens. Life happens. Just be prepared for it.
- Give young kids a job: Pushing carts, hunting an item off the shelves, holding something, kids love to be included. This is also a way to help them learn to shop.
- Limit your time: Do not overextend your timeline. Little kids (and babies) will become overstimulated, bored, or exhausted faster than you will. Don’t try to stop at more than one store. Keep your trip and time from home on a reasonable timeline.
- Be organized: Know what you need and where it is located. If you are just going on a leisurely shopping trip (with your kids??) then try to plan it around any nap times. Nap times can work in your favor if you babywear.
- Charge Your Phone: It will become your bribery tool. I don’t know one child that won’t sit with a phone in their hand. However, waiting until a meltdown has begun may end in a thrown phone. Know your child and be aware of the right moment to pull the bribe from your bag.
- Do What You Need To Do: This is my best piece of advice. You will probably never see the other customers again in your life, so forget about them and love your baby in whatever way he needs. Do not lose your cool. Sit on the floor and just hold him. Stay as long as needed, or bail as fast as possible. You do you, mama.