How to Survive a Trip to the Grocery Store When you Have Young Kids

girl selecting vegetable from the grocery store

Buying groceries is one of the constant tasks for us Moms, and we often lack anyone at home to watch our baby or toddler. Thus, trips to the store can turn into a huge headache if your kids are in tow and are grabbing every box of cookies they see and complaining about everything you put into the cart. Or, if you are like my sister-in-law Karen, you will watch in dismay as your 1-year-old son reaches behind him and promptly hurls a dozen eggs on the supermarket floor!

And then there are the comments from older women as you shop, discretely critical of the commotion or unhappiness they see transpiring. If they get too restless, disaster can strike --- a tantrum!

mom and daughter grocery shopping

Some Tips to Make Shopping Less Frustrating

  • Shop at non-peak hours

  • Organize your grocery list by aisle. Arrange your list into categories, such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, canned goods, dairy, and health and beauty products.

  • Before you leave for the store, clear off your counters to make space for incoming groceries.

  • Feed your kids before you take him so they’ll be less likely to crave the sweets they see in the store. Make your toddler a cereal necklace out of oat rings and string to eat in the store. Bring a snack with you, just in case.

  • Start in the produce aisle and give your child a piece of fruit to eat so he doesn’t ask for candy or cookies.

  • Allow your child to pick one treat per trip, or agree to spend a certain amount of money on treats in the store. It helps keep your child from begging when he knows ahead of time what he can expect.

parents shopping with son

For an Infant or Toddler:

  • If you don’t find a safety belt on your grocery store shopping cart, use a fanny pack and adjust the straps to fit snugly around your child’s waist and the cart. You can also use your belt as a makeshift seatbelt.

  • Bring your child in a backpack, which gives a great vantage point, keeps your hands free, and makes it difficult for him to grab items from the shelves.

  • Bring stroller toys and attach them to the cart so you won’t have to dart to pick up dropped or thrown toys in a crowded aisle.

  • To keep your child from picking up germs when he mouths the handle of your shopping cart, wrap a cloth around the handle.

  • Your preschooler or elementary school age child can help you clip coupons or find specific items for which you have coupons, using the picture as a guide.

  • Your toddler can also “help” by taking non-breakables off the shelf and putting them in the cart. Let him pull the number at the deli counter and try any samples they may have.

  • Help bag your own groceries so you can group items by where they belong in your home

  • When you get home, you can put away the frozen and refrigerated items and get the rest later if your child needs your attention or you need to start making a meal.

  • One last tip: when unpacking, put the freshest items in the back of the fridge to make sure the others with earlier expiration dates get used up first.

About the Author:

Stacy DeBroff is a dynamic national speaker, consultant, corporate spokesperson, and writer. Stacy is President and founder of Mom Central, Inc. Stacy has also written several best-selling books on household and family organization including The Mom Book Goes to School, The Mom Book: 4,278 Tips for Moms, Sign Me Up! The Parent’s Complete Guide to Sports, Activities, and Extracurriculars, and Mom Central: The Ultimate Family Organizer. Stacy has appeared on network television, including NBC’s Today Show and the CBS Early Show. Stacy holds a B.A. in Psychology and Comparative Literature from Brown University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa; and a J.D. from Georgetown University, magna cum laude. Prior to launching Mom Central, Inc., Stacy founded Harvard Law School’s Office of Public Interest Advising, which still serves as a model for law schools across the nation. Stacy lives with her husband, Ron, and their two children, 12-year-old Kyle and 11-year-old Brooks, outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Visit Stacy at