1. Remember that children have limits.
If you are shopping with children, be alert to their needs: are they tired, hungry, overexcited by the noise and confusion, or simply in need of fresh air and exercise, or a reassuring hug?
2. Remember that children are naturally curious.
Children are naturally curious; this is how they learn about the world around them. If they want to examine an attractive item, please don’t scold them. Instead, help them to hold the item safely, or let them know that it can be viewed but not touched. You might say “This is breakable, so let’s just look at it together.” Even if an item cannot be purchased, it can be helpful to share the child’s enthusiasm and interest in it.
3. Shopping with infants…
Shopping with an infant will be far easier if the trip is made after they are rested and have been fed. Babies and small children can become dehydrated in the dry air of shopping malls, so be sure to take frequent nursing or juice breaks.
Babies are almost always happier when carried. A sling or carrier worn by the parent provides far more comfort and emotional security than a stroller or grocery cart. A small child-proof toy can help a baby to cope with the inevitably lessened attention from the parent, but remember to stop as often as possible and take a moment for gentle words, eye contact, and hugs.
4. Shopping with toddlers…
Toddlers can begin to be included in shopping decisions. Involving the child with questions such as “which of these peaches looks better to you?” can turn a boring, frustrating experience into a more pleasurable one, for both parent and child. Children of all ages enjoy and appreciate being able to make some of the product choices themselves. Bringing along juice, a favorite snack, and a well-loved picture book, or a newly-borrowed one from the library, can also be very helpful.
Being surrounded by a crowd of adults can be intimidating to small children, especially when stores are busy. Using a backpack can be one way of bringing toddlers up to a height where they are more contented. It can also prevent the common, frightening experience of losing a toddler in a crowd.
5. Shopping with older children…
An older child can be a great help in shopping, if approached in a spirit of fun and appreciation. If the parent brings along clipped-out pictures of food from the newspaper grocery ads, the child can help to locate the item. Children mature enough to shop by themselves can help shorten the trip by finding items alone, returning periodically to put items into the cart.