Baby is an individual, and that means you may already have some individual strategies specifically suited to him to keep grocery trips running smoothly. It can’t hurt to have a few ideas for more general strategies, though, so here are many (well, at least five) tips for doing it right.
Baby will need to be safe and comfortable, and a shopping cart seat cover can help with that, although in a pinch, a blanket can work just as well. Seat covers also prevent teething babies from putting their mouths directly on shopping carts, which may not be very clean. Most seat covers are easy to use, but be sure that Baby is properly strapped in (and will remain so, even when leaning over to try to grab that bag of Oreos). If Baby is not sitting up on his own yet, a baby carrier might be a better bet than even the most nicely covered seat, though, and keeping Baby close to your chest may also help to keep him calm.
While baby will enjoy looking around for a while, he may want some toys to play with as you make your way up and down the aisles, once the wonder of the supermarket starts to lose some of its shine. There’s a good chance that Baby will drop his toys before too long, though, and you may not feel like constantly reaching down to pick them back up. Find toys that feature loops (think toys that are made to dangle from car seat handles or stroller trays) and string a few of these toys onto the straps of the cart protector before buckling baby in to save those toys from being lost in the produce aisle.
If the trip to the grocery store is a long one, Baby might get restless after his toys have lost their charm. At this point, it can be helpful to bring along a small snack that Baby is fond of if he has started eating solids. Teething crackers or biscuits – which dissolve easily and are expressly meant for little ones who are just starting to eat solids – are great options because they travel easily, are often very popular with babies, and don’t make too much of a mess.
Baby will likely be very popular in the grocery store, so don’t be afraid to use this errand as a great opportunity for socializing. If Baby has started to engage with strangers by waving, smiling, or clapping, chances are he could have quite a bit of fun while you shop. Allowing Baby to engage with others if he is interested can be a great way to help him to develop social skills. On the other hand, Baby isn’t the only one who might get chatty at the store – there’s something about having a baby with you that makes complete strangers act like you and Baby are their best friends. This can slow down your shopping trip, and can lead to a lot of people you don’t know wanting to get all up-close and personal with your little one, so it can help to have a line ready about how fast you need to get out of the store, or Baby being a little shy around strangers just now.
While it can be a challenge if you’re already stressed, remembering to relax can really help. Baby will sense your stress if you’re rushing around the aisles. Smiling and talking to Baby in a soothing voice will reassure him. If Baby does happen to make a little fuss, or even have a tantrum, remember, it’s okay. Others in the store are probably not bothered by crying half as much as you are. You may need to take Baby to a quiet section of the store while he calms down, but it doesn’t need to spoil anyone’s day, including yours.
You may be nervous the first few times you bring Baby to the grocery store, and that’s totally normal. Arrive as organized, calm, and prepared as you can – don’t forget your shopping list – and you’ll be a pro before you know it!