Grocery shopping with a toddler | How to keep them entertained

Grocery shopping with a toddler can be a challenge on any day, but preparing some games and grabbing some toys in advance can make it a lot easier for both of you. Take things for them to do and think about shopping from their perspective before you set foot in a store.

Here are 6 ways to keep your toddler entertained whilst grocery shopping!

1. Books, books, books!

  • Literacy

What you’ll need:

  • Bring a couple of small and colorful books
  • Ideally hard back

Grocery stores are boring to little kids, and if yours won’t engage with the “help mommy/daddy” idea, bring something for them to do.

A book is a great idea if your toddler will sit in the cart; just pick one they haven’t seen for a while and give it to them as soon as you get in the store, before they’ve had a chance to get bored and fidgety.

2. Let Them Make A List

  • Numeracy
  • Literacy

What you’ll need:

  • Bring a notepad or paper
  • Pens, Pencils or Crayons

If your toddler is old enough, help them write their own little shopping list with a handful of things they would like to buy. This will encourage them to engage with the idea and give them a purpose to stick to while in the shop. 

Their list will most likely resemble different squiggles and shapes on a page but they will remember to look out for their items in the shop. Encourage them to find the items from their list and tick them off. This kind of busy work can entertain a toddler for ages!

3. Carry snacks

What you’ll need:

  • Bring a couple of healthy snacks and a couple of treat snacks

It’s very frustrating if your toddler keeps taking things off the shelves and wanting to eat them. They will hone in on candy and all the things you don’t want them to grab.

Deal with this by taking your own snacks; these will help to distract them as they’ll be busy in, and won’t be hungrily choosing their own. It’s much easier to say “no” to the things they want if you aren’t fighting with an empty tummy.

4. I spy

What you’ll need:

  • lots of colorful items, easy when you’re in a grocery store

If you’re having trouble while in the store, there are a few games you can play without having to prepare them in advance. “I spy” is always a good one: there are lots of things to spot in a grocery store, and this can last all the way around the store without your child having to get down from the cart.

You can also ask your child questions about the food you’re buying. Do they know where milk comes from? Why is cereal in a box? What sort of shape pasta do they like best? Why do we keep yogurt in the fridge? Keeping them interested in what’s going on will help them stay interested and happy, even if it’s a bit wearing on your voice.

5. Toys

What you’ll need:

  • Bring a couple of small toys that can withstand getting dropped

Having a toy to keep them occupied will help with the potential boredom. Try and keep a handful of grocery-store-friendly toys set aside, which your kids don’t have the opportunity to play with at home.

 Obviously, these shouldn’t contain lots of parts which could get lost. Soft toys are ideal, and you could have a “grocery bear” or another mascot who helps out on every trip.

6. Get Them To Help You

  • Hand eye co-ordination

What you’ll need:

  • A few key groceries

Toddlers love a challenge; if you can tell your toddler “I bet you can’t find me X”, they’ll be running around all over the place to prove you wrong. Encourage them to look for brands and packets you need, especially on a time limit, and they will rise to the occasion and potentially reduce your workload as well.

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