How To Take A Toddler Shopping

If you want to take your little one on a shopping expedition, here are a few tried and true suggestions that may help.

Taking a toddler out in public can be a trying experience. While little ones are cute and fun, they can become cranky without notice, requiring the parent's constant attention and bringing the trip to an abrupt halt.

If you want to take your toddler shopping without losing time or your patience, the following suggestions, tried and proven by many a brave parent, may help.

1. Hype your child beforehand. With the promise of adventure, eager to explore new things, your child will appreciate a car or walking trip and plenty of displays to admire. Explain what you will be doing, where you will go, and how long it will take. Tell your child what you expect in terms of suitable and unsuitable behavior, but in easy to understand language. Keep in mind that at a young age, your words may sometimes be forgotten, so be prepared to overlook small infractions.

2. Give your child a nap first. A rested toddler is a happy toddler, except when ill or distracted. After a rest period, get dressed and be on your way before the little one settles into a play activity that will not bear interruption.

3. Take a treat or buy one. Fruit juice and a half sandwich may be just the thing to settle a very young tummy. Or you may want to rustle up some change and plan a fast food stop for fries or a salad. A picnic table and your own sliced apples might be the best way to cap a shopping expedition.

4. Explain the store's rules. Most stores do not mind parents bringing their children to shop. But they do not appreciate sticky fingers smudging new merchandise. Remind your child not to touch, taste, or trample anything on the counter, shelves, or floor. Explain that a "public" soft voice is needed rather than a bellowing cry when something is needed.

5. Take periodic bathroom breaks. Before, during, and after is a good rule of thumb. Small bladders hold small amounts of liquid, unlike most parents. Offer often so you're not called away in the middle of a hot negotiation over a sales item you desperately want.

6. Keep it short. An hour or two is plenty for a child that is just learning to walk. Even in a stroller, most kids do not like being confined for much longer than that. Let your little one stretch his or her legs occasionally if you must be out for several hours.

7. Bring a favorite toy. Make it something small, like a doll or stuffed animal, but not so small that it could get lost easily. A favorite blanket is not a particularly good choice unless you plan to keep it folded neatly in the back of the stroller or laying over a resting child.

Going shopping with your little ones can be fun and a good bonding experience. But remember to plan it with your child in mind and not just that sale sweater that you're in a hurry to get.

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