Teaching Toddlers at the Grocery Store

Okay, I should start by telling you I go to the grocery store alone, whenever I can get away with it. It is faster, easier and generally less expensive. However, if we want food in the house, I’ll be shopping with kids more often than not. So, I’ve come up with a few tricks to make it as painless as possible.

The biggest way to keep little ones under control at the store is to involve them in the process—give them a list of their own to cross off as you shop. At the toddler level, I would print pictures of 4-5 basic items we always buy. It was her job to remind Mommy to buy apples—then cross off the picture of apples on her shopping card.

I was excited to see the Shopping Cart Dash game on Pressman Games holiday gift guide—it is also played with a card listing 5 needed items. The object of the game is to collect everything on your list, then get back around the game board. My girls enjoy having their own shopping list & being in control of something that is normally a grownup job.

Teaching them the process—both through this fun game and by allowing them to help at a young age—will be beneficial as they get older. Now, when I take my almost-teen to the store, I can hand her a list and meet in the middle. Giving them a small measure of control avoids toddler tantrums through the aisles.

Allow them to make some decisions for themselves—they can choose the cart, select which color of apples you purchase & help count the items you need. It gives you an opportunity to teach numbers, sorting, colors and more. Shopping Cart Dash provides the same thing, with color-coded shopping lists, divided by category.

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Simply leave a comment here, and tell us how you entertain little ones at the grocery store. You can earn additional entries by:

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I was provided with a free Pressman game pack to facilitate this post, but the opinion is 100% real. Please note the Disney Mastermind Towers game included in this prize pack may not be the same version pictured by Amazon.


  1. says

    These look like great games! We entertain our little one at the grocery store with the iPhone – and now we take care to always have some wet wipes with us, to wipe off sticky fingers first. :)

  2. Denisines says

    My 2.5-yr-old is beginning to make shopping difficult so I use a few different tricks: letting him push his stroller or hold a non-breakable item, and though it’s not always possible of course, I try to avoid shopping when he’s especially tired & cranky.

  3. Julie L. says

    I usually bring a snack for my toddlers. Our store also has a penny horse ride so I tell them if they are good they can go for a ride at the end. Although with a 1 and 2 year old honestly most the time I just try to avoid shopping with both of them, it has become very difficult. I love the idea of giving my 2 year old a shopping list!

  4. Amanda says

    My 3-year-old likes to hold the coupons. One hand for those we’re redeeming and the other hand for the products we’re still looking for.

  5. AmandaSue says

    I usually just put her in the cart with a pad of paper and a pencil and she just draws and does ok with that.