6 Tips for Shopping with Baby
Shopping when you have a baby or toddler in tow is no easy task. Here are some tips to help make that once-loved activity more productive and less stressful when you are doing it with a baby.
The big day is almost here. And EEEK!! Suddenly, I find myself in that final, dreaded push of last-minute holiday shopping. Every year, my goal is to have that holiday gift list all checked off at least two weeks in advance, but somehow, every year, I still find myself shopping three days before Christmas. Ugh. And three days before Christmas means you can’t online shop from the comfort of home anymore. That “comfort of home” part is super important when you are a parent to a baby or toddler because, as any parent to a baby or toddler knows, shopping, especially at the busy holiday-time, can be a nightmare. Here are some tips I find helpful when braving the shopping crowds during the holidays or ANY DAY with a baby.
- Grab the Snap-and-Go.
If you have a baby under 6 months or one who has not yet reached that wiggly, curious, has-got-to-move phase, then the Snap-and-Go is a must. Baby’s sleeping? Great! Just move him and the car seat, snap it into the lightweight stroller and get your shopping on. Hopefully, he’ll stay asleep for a while. And if not, the motion combined with the white noise of the mall made up of hyper shoppers and competing music blaring from the stores should lull him back to sleep. Also, the stroller can work as a two-in-one baby mover and shopping cart. Store your purchases in the bin underneath.
- Time it right.
When you have an older baby or toddler, shopping becomes tricky. They want to move and wiggle and be all up in the mix. They will no longer just stare at the toy dangling from their car seat handle for hours. Nope, they get bored, get riled up, get hyper, get impatient… So you have to time your shopping as best you can and go at a time when your baby or toddler will be best up for the challenge. So when is that? Well, I’ve found that for younger babies, it’s best to shop during nap time because they’ll likely stay asleep for the bulk of your time out. But with a toddler—go when she’s rested. This cuts down on that tired, over-stimulated frustration that a high-strung holiday shopping atmosphere might bring and perhaps prevents a full-on tantrum.
- Go when they have a full belly.
A hungry baby or toddler is the worst shopping partner ever. Feed them right before you head into the shopping storm. This way, they will start off in a good mood and be able to tolerate being carted from store to store a little more easily. It will also prevent you from having to cut your shopping trip short or from the hassle of taking time to fight more busy crowds in search of a free table and chairs to feed your little one.
- Grab the big fitting room.
When trying on clothes, ask for the big fitting room. Or when you need a break from the shopping madness, pretend to try on clothes and ask for the big fitting room. This will give you a few moments of privacy where you can regroup and take a breather and even breastfeed baby. This also allows plenty of room for your toddler to run around while you try on those sparkly holiday outfits and curse the fluorescent lighting above you.
- Let your little one burn some energy at the play area in the mall.
If you are at a mall, break up the shopping and reset a grumpy toddler’s mood by giving her some time in the play area. You can rest your barking dogs and ponder the sensibility of your recent purchases while you watch your little peanut burn some energy. And you’ll smile and laugh at how much fun your baby is having, until you have to swoop in and save her from the flying much-too-old-to-be-there kid who just jumped off the elephant and is running around, creating havoc, pissing all the parents off.
- Be prepared!
Take plenty of snacks, a full bottle or sippy cup, toys, books, etc. You want your shopping trip to be productive and as smooth as possible. Sometimes just handing your little one a snack or sippy cup can make all the difference. And be sure to pack extra diapers and an extra outfit. You don’t want to be stuck in a store or the mall with a Poop-1-1 emergency. Believe me, I’ve had that happen, and it wasn’t pretty. Prepare for anything, but you’re used to that. You’re a parent.
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