A lot of first time moms, and new parents in general, find themselves hampered in trying to deal with their chores and responsibilities when their child first comes along, especially when it comes to grocery shopping.
So they often ask themselves how to grocery shop with a baby?
Luckily, the answer to how to grocery shop with a baby is rather simple as your main concern is keeping your child safe and secure while keeping your hands free.
Well, that and keeping him calm and well-behaved so he doesn’t throw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.
Trust me, for a first time parent, it’s terrifying to be grocery shopping with a screaming baby.
You can also opt to not take your child with you on shopping trips, but sometimes that’s just not possible, especially if there’s no one else to babysit him and you’re running really low on food.
Many new moms have a lot of trouble with this because they haven’t quite managed to get everything organized yet. However, it’s not rocket science and I trust you’ll get the hang of it in no time!
I’ve already mentioned that child safety is one of the main concerns.
But it’s also about maximizing the space of a grocery cart as well as a few other tips and tricks that’ll make grocery shopping with babies stress free and no big deal whatsoever!
How To Grocery Shop With A Baby Easily
1. Keeping your little one safe without sacrificing too much space
This is the first, and easily the most important tip when it comes to parental shopping sprees because not only do you need to keep your child safe should you have to bring him along, but you also need to make sure you have enough space in your shopping cart.
After all, you’ll need to be able to fit everything you put on your shopping list without having to resort to dangerously stacking items on top of the cart or risking your kiddo’s safety.
This can be done in a multitude of ways, some less effective than others, but less expensive too, as they don’t require as much baby gear to accomplish. Here are some examples:
Having your child ride on top of a shopping cart
This is arguably one of the most cookie-cutter methods when it comes to taking your older child along for a shopping spree. It’s simple and doesn’t require any extra monetary investment on your part, but it is rather limiting.
For example, newborn babies can’t be placed in the space on a shopping cart intended for a child. Obviously, this is due to the lack of proper head and neck support.
It’s more suited for one year olds and older who can keep themselves steady for longer periods of time.
That said, do make sure to carry a blanket for your shopping trips or anything else that can serve as a makeshift shopping cart cover.
Those seats are usually pretty uncomfortable plus they’re likely to be covered in germs, so it’s an extra level of precaution to keep your baby safe.
Using a shopping cart hammock
A step up from simply using what’s provided to us by the supermarkets is to purchase something called a shopping cart hammock.
This is a piece of baby gear that does exactly as advertised. You hang it from each side of the cart and simply place your little one into the hammock.
He’ll have the time of his life gently rocking as you move the cart around and he’ll always be within eyesight while the space used for groceries is left uncompromised.
While it does require a bit of monetary investment, though only a few bucks really, it’s a better alternative as it’s infant friendly and you get to keep your hands free to fill the grocery cart.
Using an infant car seat
Speaking of infants, there’s another alternative for transporting them in your shopping cart and that’s through the use of a baby car seat.
It’ll certainly be a lot more comfortable for your child and it’s infant friendly too, plus you don’t have to worry about spending extra money as you already have a car seat.
The downside is that car seats use up a lot of space so it’s better for small shopping runs.
Using a baby carrier
A very effective solution for grocery shopping with a baby for the first time is to rely on babywearing by using a baby carrier.
This helps to keep your hands free as well as the space in the cart meaning you’ll be able to do your shopping almost as quickly as you’d have done it by going alone.
A carrier also keeps the baby secure and safe, and kids love the feeling of being snuggled up to mom.
The downside is that all of the child’s weight will be on you so your back might take strain. It’ll feel almost as if you were pregnant again, and you should be just as careful as you were back then.
Make sure to keep your child away from the cart handlebar so that he doesn’t get hit by it, though that rarely ever happens.
You can always get a carrier that allows you to carry your child in a different position than just directly in front, eliminating the problem entirely.
The other added benefit of choosing to go with a good quality child carrier is the potential ability for your child to nurse while you’re there and to even do so discreetly.
The proximity to his mamma will also make him a lot calmer and more likely to maybe even take a nap so you don’t have to deal with any child meltdowns if you walk past the cereal or candy aisle without batting an eye.
This method was my personal favorite and I strongly recommend it if you can afford to get a child carrier.
It’s well worth the investment, not just because it allows you to blast through the grocery list quickly, but as a quality of life product in general.
Using a stroller
Finally, if all other options seem unappealing, you can always use a stroller instead of a shopping cart.
Depending on the type that you have, there might be a very large storage basket underneath it to serve as a good replacement for a cart, but do keep the stroller’s weight limit in mind.
If you need a little bit of extra carrying space, you can always go for an extra large diaper bag.
You should also keep your grocery lists shorter and only fill them with smaller items while leaving the larger ones for solo excursions to the store or to online shopping sprees.
Organizing it this way makes it so much easier to use a stroller or travel system as your cart of choice. Plus, you get to prioritize your child’s comfort.
2. Choosing the right time to go
Now that the transportation is out of the way, it’s time to go through all of the other shopping tips.
They might not be as important as the first one, but they do help out in their own way to make shopping with a baby a lot easier to manage.
You see, the trick to learning how to grocery shop with a baby is to know when to actually go.
You don’t want to go too early or whenever there’s bound to be a lot of people because no one likes to shop when the store is crowded.
Weekends are usually the worst shopping periods, especially Saturday mornings, so you’ll want to avoid that.
The other factor that you should consider here is when your kiddo’s naptime is.
The ideal period for shopping would be right after he wakes up because he’ll still be a bit groggy and calmer than usual, meaning the potential of a tantrum in the middle of the store is a lot less likely.
Despite what I mentioned earlier about being able to discreetly feed your baby with the use of a baby carrier in the store, you should still try and feed your child before you go grocery shopping as this will have a similar effect as going after naptime would.
3. Grabbing the right parking space
It’s not just about the time either, finding the right parking spot in the parking lot will help make these trips a lot shorter and a lot less cumbersome than they need to be.
Learning how to grocery shop with a baby is knowing where you can cut corners.
The best parking spot is always going to be near the cart return area because you get to put your groceries in the car and immediately sort the shopping cart out without having to make a ton of return trips while still handling your little one.
4. Plan your list ahead of time
How to grocery shop with a baby successfully obviously depends on whether you’ll be using a standard shopping cart, the storage basket on a stroller, etc.
Prepare a grocery list before you go to the store as this will save you time browsing inside the store which is key when you have a baby with you.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to cut any big items from the list and leave those for online shopping or a specific day in the week where you’ll be able to go on a solo shopping mission.
When you’re with your child, it’s best to focus on getting food and drinks, and cleaning and hygiene supplies since space optimization is key.
Alternatively, you can make shopping trips more frequent and plan specific lists for each one – toilet paper on Thursdays if you’re running low and food on Mondays and Fridays for example.
An extra thing that you can do if you usually go to the same store every time is to plan your route so you don’t have to spend more time than necessary inside which will minimize the risk of your child getting cranky.
5. Pack only the important stuff
As your space is likely to be limited, the extra baby gear that you’ll be packing will reduce that space even further.
So, you’ll want a good number of these items (but not all your baby gear) to help you deal with your child in case he has an accident or blows up into a tantrum.
Have some of them on hand in case of an emergency, but remember – you can’t pack everything!
Take a diaper bag with you or use the stroller’s storage basket instead and pack only what you think you’ll need.
Here are a few good examples:
• Pacifier to help calm the baby down
• A baby bottle if the store doesn’t allow public breastfeeding (you may pack a breastfeeding cover too)
• A change of clothes
• A box of baby wipes to help with potential accidents and spills
• A baby carrier or a cart hammock if you decide to use them
Not much else is really needed and this should take up minimal space.
The Bottom Line
Learning how to grocery shop with a baby is a skill every new parent will pick up sooner or later and it’s an essential part of the dad and mom life.
Long gone are the days when you can just run to the store to pick up a thing or two and be back in a flash. Now you’ll need to plan ahead and manage your time well.
The key is to pick the right way to carry your child around the grocery store, one that fits best with both of you while still leaving enough room for everything on the list.
The rest is just fine-tuning the shopping route and making sure your kiddo is well-rested and fully fed before you set off.
This helps minimize the risk of any cranky outbursts in the middle of the store that’ll set all eyes on you and cause a whole load of eye-rolls and sighs from onlookers.
One final thing to note before I cap things off is to never cave to your child’s demands, especially when he enters his toddler years. If he’s trying to cause a scene just because he didn’t get a specific cereal, then don’t let him.
He’ll have to learn that you can’t always get what you want, that it has to be earned and crying isn’t the way to go about it.
Does it seem mean? A little bit, but you need to present yourself as a parental figure with a healthy mix of both authority and compassion. But for now, all you need to worry about is keeping your baby happy and safe while you do your shopping.
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