Keeping Toddlers Busy at the Store

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In case you missed it my Sister In Law Bethany is expecting a baby boy! She’s going to be the voice for you moms of younger kids here and I’m so excited to have her sharing ideas, products and inspiration for babies, toddlers and little kids. She has two toddler girls so she’s gained some experience along the way as she prepares for the arrival of her first boy. You’ll be able to tell who the author of each post is right by the date under the title if you’re ever curious!

Making a grocery or Target run with toddlers is not always easy, but it’s something my girls and I look forward to doing together. It breaks up the monotony of the day (and Moana on repeat for the third time that morning!) and it gives us a chance to get out of the house. The key to having a successful trip without meltdowns or losing your mind is to prepare ahead of time. I like to keep a few tricks up my sleeve, items on hand in the diaper bag, or have something super simple prepared to keep the girls entertained, engaged, and fuss-free!Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!

How to keep toddlers busy at the store

  1. Give them a job.

My daughters like to be my “helpers” so I ask them to “help” by carrying a favorite box of crackers or cereal, loading unbreakable items into the cart (hand one at a time to them and them put it in), or have them find a particular brand of cookies they like (“Look for the box with the bunny on it”). I also like to give a little bit of freedom and choice by letting them choose a yogurt they want or the type of juice they like.

  1. Snack your way through the store!

Food is a great way to keep kids entertained and also keep them from getting too “hangry” while shopping. I like to pre-pack plenty of small and healthy snacks that are easy to just throw in the diaper bag and be on our way!

Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!
Photo via Snap & Shop
Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!
Photo via Snap & Shop

These snack trays are genius and super handy for keeping kids in the cart and happy. What I love about these trays are that you can pre-pack them with any food (grapes, crackers, cookies, veggies, cheese) and they don’t get smashed or spill in the diaper bag. And they snap on the handle of the cart or the side of the cart.Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!

I found these reusable snack bags through a friend. They are SO cute and come in a few different prints. They are nice because they are bigger than a standard sandwich-size bag and they have a zipper opening, which is easy for little ones to open and close. I also like that it has a moisture resistant interior and they are hand or machine washable. Little ones enjoy them too because it’s a fun alternative to a plain plastic bag!

  1.  Keep little ones busy in the cart with a no-mess activity.Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!

I discovered these Melissa & Doug Water Wow Coloring Pads when we took our first long road trip to Disneyland last year. Each pad comes with a refillable water pen that is just chubby enough for small fingers to use with ease. After seeing how much the girls loved “coloring” I decided to try it out at the store one day and it was a hit! I also like that I comes in many different themes including princesses, animals, letters, numbers, tractors, and the list goes on! There’s something for everyone!

  1. Teach along the way.

Take advantage of teaching opportunities. As with any time with little ones, a grocery trip is a terrific time for toddlers to practice skills. You can practice identifying shapes (“This pasta is a bow tie. Can you find the pasta that looks like a seashell?”) and expanding their vocabularies (“This is cilantro. We like to put this in guacamole and on salads. Can you say cilantro?”) I also like to practice colors by pointing out all the beautiful colors in the produce section “Look at that rainbow of colors!” or “what is your favorite color of apples?”.

  1. Reward at the end of the trip!Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!

Our end of the shopping trip reward is a sucker! My kids love these organic, dye-free suckers and they are actually SUPER tasty! They are the perfect size, so they don’t last for hours but just long enough to be enjoyed and provide a fun treat! I can usually find these bags for super inexpensive at TJMaxx or Marshall’s or you can find them on Amazon.

Looking for some ideas to keep them busy while you’re at home? Rookie Moms has a great list of the best toys for 2-year-old boys to get you started.

Do you have any ideas that you have found keep your kids busy and involved on shopping trips?Great ideas for keeping toddlers busy at the store!

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  1. My husband and I just dropped an app on the App Store for this very purpose! WhatList allows you to create photo lists (with notes) so your child can hold the grocery list and cross things off as you find them. The photos are helpful for pre-readers and clueless spouses alike!

  2. Thanks for the ideas, Bethany! I’ve always made it a point to give my little daughter a “job” whenever we shop and reward her at the end of the trip. I was kinda worried about giving her coloring books to avoid creating a colorful mess. Hahaha. But I’m glad to see a no-mess alternative. I’ll be sure to check it out.

    Thanks again, Bethany!

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