To Market to Market to Buy a Fat PIG-

Updated on May 30, 2012
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
28 answers

Mamas & Papas -

I'm all ears with tips and suggestions on how to make going food shopping with DS (19 months) any better/ easier. The supermarket shopping carts near us don't have fun attachments, or even safety belts. He can and does climb out. Yesterday, I had him on his harness, and he "helped" bag some produce, push the cart, carry a gallon of milk, move items onto the conveyor.

But overall, it was a hard time for him, and a hard time for me. He didn't want to stop bagging the fruit, he didn't understand why we couldn't drive the cart into the display of cookies, or the old lady's legs, tickled that he carried the gallon, he wanted to carry others, and he wanted to grab hold of my wallet and wouldn't let the cashier grab hold of my credit card.

I take it with practice he'll get the hang of what to expect, but apart from "leave him at home," any concrete suggestions?

Thanks a bunch,
F. B.

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So What Happened?

I am going to try going more regularly, during off hours, with the intention of teaching him little more than comportment. Meanwhile, your supermarkets are envy making. The idea that you have carts with belts, accoutrements, and cookies is just lovely and unheard of. NYC supermarkets are cramped, and seriously unaccommodating. :( Thanks for all your recommendations.

Featured Answers



answers from Lincoln on

I agree with Kristina M. I think 19 months is really young to be in a cart that long too but if you have no other alternative do the short trips to the store so he gets used to it. My son is almost 3 and we still have a hard time keeping him occupied sitting in the cart. Some kids sit nice and quiet and some kids make a stink....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My opinion is now it will be hard to keep him in the cart simply because you have already let him out and he's had a taste of "freedom". However, I just kept an adjustable belt in my diaper bag so I could still belt them in if the cart didn't have a seat belt. I don't recall having problems with my kids at the store but I had them in the cart from day one. Maybe give him some snacks and make it a QUICK trip until he understands that he is to behave and stay in the cart. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Letting him 'help' is the BEST thing...

Have him grab everything he can reach off the list and throw it into the cart (be prepared b/c throw it he will do :) and I sometimes let them be the list and pen holder and they like scratching off what we have already got.

I have had the most luck with these techniques, that and also doing a LOT of talking to them while we are there! 'We are gonna make Daddy's favorite dinner, we need X, Y & Z' "Do you like red apples or green'? So on and so forth!

~I always bring a hoodie sweatshirt with me and when all else fails I make the hoodie into a pillow and let him/her lay down on the very bottom (under the basket were you put soda & dog food) of the cart...this works *some* of the time!

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answers from Dallas on

I have always taken my daughters shopping with me (they are 8 and 5 now). I have spanked both of them one time and ONE TIME ONLY in public, and they never acted up at the store again. One swift swat to the behind (or wrist, if he's sitting in the cart), and he'll get the point that your requests are not optional. When my kids were little they sat in the cart, and climbing out was a safety issue and IMO, definitely warrants a spanking.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

snacks, lolly pops and cars, oh my! I did not let my son out of the cart in the store until he was about 2.5 and I couldn't force him in there any longer, LOL. Until then, I would offer snacks to keep him busy for a while and then usually I would bring a dum-dum lolly for him when he was done with the snack and that would keep him busy for a while. He also liked to hold onto a couple of his favorite matchbox cars in the cart and play with those. Now that he is bigger and wont ride in the cart we work on him staying near me in the store. I tell him if he runs away from me (or leaves the isle without me) he has to ride in the cart. I have inforced the rule at least 1 or 2 times to show him I am not kidding, so all I have to do is tell him he is getting a warning and next time he goes in the cart and then he normally behaves, at least for a bit :0)

Oh and some stores around here you can ask for a seatbelt at the customer service desk if there are none on the carts. Also, they sell these fabric shopping cart seat covers at babies r us, (forget what they are called) and those come with seatbelts on them so it would have some toys on it and also solve the seat belt issue.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig.

I now wonder if it's a young mother who wrote the poem who also had a hard time with a toddler at the market.

I think you have lots of great ideas. Maybe too many. I gave my children a special snack to sit still in the cart, belted down. I expected them to sit patiently, or walk along side and hold onto the cart.

Of course he does not understand the consequences of what you describe. He'll start to reason around the age of 3. Until then, be firm and consistent with what you expect in the store. He'll eventually get it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My solution is to go alone, if that is NOT possible, can you find a different store with better buggies? Children must learn how to act in the store, but for my son it did not click until nearly 5. My only suggestion may be a pain in the arse, but go for quick trips - 15-20 min tops. Monday, Dairy aisle, Tuesday, Produce, Wed Meats, Thur Frozens, Fri Dry goods. Short frequent trips with the same set of rules every time. Honestly 19mo is too young to not be strapped into a buggy - I really suggest changing stores or raising a stink about this store's safety/quality of buggies.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Is there a reason you can't leave him at home? Does your husband travel for work or something? I did most of my grocery shopping in the evenings when my kids were little. It was my "me" time. Not only was it easier without the little ones in tow but the store was less crowded too. Win win!
If that's not possible a special snack usually does the trick, something that takes a while to finish :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Bring a bungee cord to strap him in - the kind with the hooks on the end so you can hook to the side of the cart. You can even strap him in the back of the cart so he has more room to spread out. Less room for your groceries, of course, but it's safer. Or keep him in the stroller and pull the grocery cart. I did that for years with my twins. They could play in the stroller while I shopped. Snacks and toys made a world of difference for my kids. Small things, obviously - but preferably something exciting. An iPhone would have been great, but we made do with board books, bendy straws, and... oh man... I've completely forgotten what they played with at a year and a half old. Well, whatever your son likes - bring that!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I never had that problem myself b/c mine was this trembling, easily overwhelmed little lump of mush at that age (seriously, they do make 'em that way). BUT, could you bring along a bag with "his" groceries (plastic apples and what have you)? At 19 mos. that should seem real enough to him, and if he gets feisty you can create a problem ("Oh, no! Your apple fell out of your grocery bag! Can you put it back?) that he can solve on his own.

Hope that helps,




answers from Portland on

My cart seat/high chair cover has straps that hold the baby belted into the seat. I have seen them on craigslist for cheap and they are less than $15 at Walmart. I would use one of these.

I personally had a no walking rule, its just too too too stressful for mama until a couple of months ago when daddy thought it would be neat to hold our now 2.5 dd's hand. UGG! Now we have to deal with the don't push the cart into people, watch where you are going, etc. Just like you.

Another good trick is to get some yummy treat from the deli, or stop at a drive thru on the way to the store and let the baby munch on something they really like. For my kids Jo-Jos do the trick. I figure once every couple of weeks isn't so bad. Oh, and apples or pears. My dd loves to get to pick out an apple and munch on it while we are shopping. I always grab an extra to weigh when we pay. I feel for you!



answers from Eugene on

When my kids were little, I had my own set of safety straps that I could bring, hook onto the cart and buckle my kids in. Can't remember where I got them, you might check online or at a baby store.

I usually had at least 2 little ones with me while shopping and would get home or even to the checkstand and find holes poked in the plastic wrap of my food, finger holes poked into eggs, packages unwrapped. They didn't have the fun carts back then so I had one child in the seat facing me and another in the main part of the cart.

Even tho we try to eat healthy, I'd always stop first at the store bakery where children are each given a free giant cookie upon arrival. That gave me 10-15 minutes of peace before my kids started looking for other ways to entertain themselves. You might try that because eating keeps little hands busy.

Letting them drive the mini-carts if available, or carrying a reusable bag of produce makes them think they are helping. It's alot of work taking kids shopping but hey, now I have teenagers and they actually help me load and unload the car so it does get better.



answers from New York on

I know your probably frazled, but that story was sooooooo cute. You did a great job. Your son wasn't running through the store, which is great. It means you kept him entertained. Mine was a lot easier. I just had him sing through the store.


answers from San Francisco on

I shopped with a stroller when my son was a toddler. It had a bag on the back and basket on the bottom. Also, most importantly, a 3 point harness that was too difficult for him to undo. Once at the store he was lifted out of the carseat and put straight in the stroller. Never letting his little feet touch the ground seemed to be important to the process for some reason.
If a stroller is not an option for you there are inserts for cart baskets you can buy that include a seat belt and toys.



answers from Austin on

Well, now that he has had the freedom of walking in the store, it will be even harder to keep him in the seat.

If a store doesn't have safety belts in their shopping carts, bring your own! Heck, it can just be a regular belt with a buckle.... anything to keep him safe. Just keep it in your purse for when it is needed. I've seen kids fall out of carts, and it isn't fun......

At 4 1/2, we still put my grandson in the seat.... we don't belt him in, though..... he is starting to get tall, and it is getting harder to get his legs in the hole. He sits willingly, though, since walking was not an option when he was young.


answers from Santa Fe on

At that age I would never let them "help" so much - it just would be a pain. I'd figure out a way to strap him in the seat OR I'd put him in a backpack carrier while I quickly shopped. My youngest is now 2 and a half and every now and then I'll let her walk and help. I only do this if we are getting one or two things and sometimes she still will be a bit impossible. She is very good if she is sitting strapped into the seat though. Again, I would not let him walk around on his own...not unless you want to feel like you are going insane! Then afterwards take him to a park to run around all he likes :)


answers from San Antonio on

well not that I agree with people who let their kids do this, but in your situation, it might be needed - let him play on an app on your phone while you shop?? I see kids all the time watching movies and playing games while mom shops. I won't let MY child do that, as I feel they're missing out on "real life learning" while we're shopping. BUt in your situation, you need a distraction! You need something to keep him in his seat. I am very surprised they don't have seat belts! Perhaps something to bring up with management.

Another idea would be to have one special "grocery store toy" that he can take with him from home. Ie - the magna-doodle. He can write and draw ONLY when he's sitting in the grocery cart seat.

Final idea: "Sit nicely in your seat. Help me find the groceries we need. When we get to the milk section near the end if you've been a good boy you get a strawberry milk." Sure, it's a bribe. But it will at least teach him that good things come to boys who obey their mamas.



answers from Detroit on

This age is when I started to teach my son to hold on to the side of the cart while walking. He gets put in the cart when he starts to wander too much. If it's a busy store and he has to be in the cart, I bring a small toy or two and some goldfish. Talking to him while shopping helps, too. (It's also a great way to talk about colors and shapes and stuff.) It works pretty well for us. It also helps to keep the trips shorter, if possible, until he gets used to what you expect from him. My older son was more wild but didn't mind the cart as much. When he was old enough, maybe 3, I would give him a penny when we got to the store. If he was good, he could keep it or use it to ride the horse. If he didn't behave, he had to give the penny back to me.



answers from Washington DC on

Grocery shopping with children is SUCH an ordeal! My son is six, and I still try to plan shopping for days when he has an after school activity and I can get to the store and back before he gets home.

My suggestions (in no particular order)

It really helps to make a list for yourself. Then, if you can, organize the list by section of the store so that you don't end up doubling back or missing things on your list. (most stores have online list makers or isle maps if you look for them it is a huge help). That will help YOU in the store and make it easier on you both.

Make a list for DS. He can help you (er boss you) as you shop WITHOUT getting out of the cart. It'll take some set up time on the front end, but once you have all the pictures in clipart, it's just a mater of dragging them onto your list and printing before you leave.

Also, bring him something else to do. A book, or photo album, or one of those lace up puzzles, etch-a-sketch etc. (Just bring ONE thing though or you'll end up with a whole extra problem on your hand and he switches activities every 30 seconds).

Be quick. Seriously. You'll be happier going twice a week if you can get in and out quickly than going once a week but taking forever and dealing with your son getting bored.




answers from New York on

Honestly, cut yourself a break and use a delivery service once and awhile.,, there are so many now and they are so easy to use!



answers from Phoenix on




answers from Charlotte on

I know, I know, you said apart from "leave him at home", but really and truly, she is too young and it is a burden on both of you. Go after you put her to bed at night. Go where they are open late. You'll get your shopping done in record time - no lines, no waiting, no crying, no climbing out of the cart!



answers from Philadelphia on

i'd rather shop when my daughter is asleep=) if you can go in the middle of the night when your husband is home, I'd do that. No crouds and by yourself=)

Aside from that
I always started with heading to the baby asile and getting a thing of gerber puffs, then she was happy most of the time. We'd play eye spy for colors, or name fruits and veggies, and she was in the cart the entire time. If she was getting close to a melt down, we'd sing songs and I'd distrct her and then we'd get the free cookie right before the checkout line...oh and a piece of cheese at the deli counter. Bring him a little hungry=)



answers from New York on

I think 1 1/2 - 3 is the hardest age to take kids to the supermarket. Honestly, I even see kids who look 4 that the parents get very annoyed with. You have gotten great suggestions (bring toys, get a snack, ect) but at this age I never took my son to the grocery store. I love grocery shopping and buy things on sale and with coupons. It was just too stressful to forget things and buy what I didn't need. How about you just give yourself a break and shop alone or with older kids? My son is 4 and he is a huge help now at the supermarket!



answers from Cleveland on

You can buy the fun attachments and put them on the cart, then remove them when you leave. Just keep them in the car so that you have them when you need to go shopping. When my kids walk around with me, they have to hold onto the cart - they don't push it & they don't bag food. They can help me put somethings in the cart or pick out flavors of things - like juice, cereal, snackes, ect.

I do love our new Giant Eagle though - it has a playroom (age 3-10 yrs)and "car" carts. They also have a cookie club for $1 a year - you get a free cookie everytime you shop & show the card with a kid. 3 of my kids usually go in the "Eagle's Nest", one in a "car" cart and he gets his cookie & the baby in a regular cart. Shopping usually takes over an hour + check-out... takes a while when you shop for 7 people only once a week. Daddy is usually there, too.

You just have to figure out what works best for you.... just don't understand why the store doesn't have some kinds of belts in the carts. It really isn't safe to have them in the carts without them!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Expect everything to occur in "toddler time" which is approx. 1.75 times the amount of your normal time allotted for the task.


answers from Norfolk on

When my son was little, my husband would come to the store with us and while one of us shopped the other would manage our son.
His very first time toddling in the super market (the store had almost no one shopping in it at the time) he went down the pet aisle and proceeded to load a 5 lb bag of cat food onto the bottom of the cart.
We put it back, and he put it back on the cart. Repeat about 5 times over.
He was SO determined to 'help' and we didn't even have any pets.
Most of the time he was pretty good.
There were only a few times when I had to take him to the car while Dad finished up shopping.
You might want to try 'practice' shopping.
Take him to the store for a visit when you have no plans to buy anything and just walk through the store with him in the cart seat for a bit, then leave.
Eventually he'll mind his manners.



answers from New York on

Get a harness and put him in the seat.

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