Grocery Shopping with my Babies


As a parent of two young toddlers, I’ve faced some struggles when it comes to grocery shopping. I’ll admit they weren’t as disastrous as some stories I’ve heard over the years. But with two kids the logistics of it got a little complicated for a while, and some days one or both kids drove me nuts, especially with the way my worried mind works.

Main Struggles

Here were some of the issues I’ve encountered shopping with two kids so far:

  1. How do I seat an infant (in a carseat) and a toddler into a shopping cart?
  2. Where do I put my groceries when my shopping cart is full of children?
  3. How do I get my two kids from the car to the shopping cart?
  4. How do I seat two toddlers in one shopping cart?
  5. What do I do when my child sees me get something they want right away?
  6. How do I keep my child from getting bored and having a fit?

1- How Do I Seat an Infant and Toddler in 1 Shopping Cart?

When my first child was born I had family coming to visit for several hours at a time to see the first grandchild on a regular basis so I would go out and get my groceries on my own. But when my second was born I sometimes I needed to get groceries when my family wasn’t visiting.

I had a hard time thinking about how to place both my kids in a shopping cart.

I’m kind of a paranoid parent when it comes to going out on my own with two kids and I worry about kidnapping situations.

There have been so many stories about strangers snatching kids out of shopping carts and running off, which is why I make sure to strap my kids and make sure the straps aren’t loose. I even worry about strangers passing by in the parking lot as I’m getting the kids out of the car and snatching one of my kids. 

I know the chances are probably slim but maybe not so much. These things happen all the time and I will do my best not to ever live that nightmare.

When I had just one child, this didn’t concern me as much because I drop whatever I’m doing to protect my son. But with two its much more difficult. I’m only one person with two hands and I have to keep them both safe.

So that’s why I had to come up with the safest method possible.

My kids are only 15 months apart and, although my oldest could walk, there was no way I would let him walk around the store while I pushed the shopping cart to did my rounds of grocery shopping. It would be very difficult to keep an eye on him and keep him safe. And he’d probably end up grabbing things off the isles and making a mess, as any curious toddler would.

Some people use their strollers to buy groceries, which I’ve rarely seen. Using my double stroller wasn’t an option though because I could barely fit the stroller and a week’s worth of groceries in the trunk of my car. Also, a stroller doesn’t have decent enough storage for larger grocery items.

My usual store has a couple of shopping carts that seat two toddlers but the carseat wouldn’t fit in the basket so I had to wait for my youngest to grow.

Using a regular shopping cart, I sat my oldest on the front of the shopping cart and put my infant, while in the carseat, in the main part of the shopping cart. Together, they took up all the storage space of the cart.

So then came my next problem, where do I put things?

2- Where do I Put My Groceries if My Cart is Full of Children?

So with my toddler taking up the front basket and my infant’s carseat taking up the main part of the cart, I was left with the bottom rack of the shopping cart, which doesn’t fit much. On days when I didn’t need to buy much this was enough. Sometimes I would grab a hand basket or two, which fit underneath the shopping cart with a little extra room. I could store more small items into these baskets. Once I hung my my reusable shopping bag from the cart handle to shop with. And certain things I could put on either side of my toddler in the front, which entertained him, or slide them next to the tiny crevice next to the carseat in the main area of the cart. On the way out the store I would often have an employee help me carry everything back, usually in a different cart they would push.

3- How Do I Get My 2 Kids From the Car To the Shopping Cart?

Another part of my paranoia kicks in here, probably even more than inside the store where there are more obstacles and witnesses to prevent a kidnapping. In a parking lot a kidnapper just has to take a few steps to get to their vehicle with my child.

So I had to plan how avoid any open opportunities and to always keep an eye out for my surroundings.

Getting two kids out of a car doesn’t seem too difficult. But when you think about the time it takes to unbuckle your child out of the car and safely into a shopping cart while the other one waits, a stranger can quickly pass by and snatch your child out of the car and you may not notice for up to a minute or two. Or even while you’re grabbing the second kid out of the car, someone could pass by and take your child from, or even with, the cart.

To make matters worse, I had to leave them in the car for less than a minute, with the car locked, just so I could bring a cart to the car! I died inside EVERY TIME.

That’s not something I would normally do when with one child. But  because I had an infant and a toddler, I couldn’t walk my very young toddler across the parking lot to the building while carrying my infant in her carseat (heavy stuff) and somehow manage to get them both in the shopping cart with only two hands.

If that wasn’t enough logistics to figure out, I also had to plan the quickest and best way to get them each out of the store and into the car. I thought this through over and over many times and at different growth stages to come up with the best solution.

When my daughter was still an infant and I had to carry her around in her carseat and I had to get her out of the car and into the cart first because it was easier to put the carseat in with the front basket, where my son would sit, closed. Getting back in the car was the reverse order, the same set of worries plus groceries to load.

At that time, the order was carseat then toddler but now that my infant is a toddler the order doesn’t matter.

I’m crazy right!? Well I feel like I’m keeping them safe so I’m okay with that.

4- How Do I Seat 2 Toddlers in a Shopping Cart?

Thanks to carts with two toddler seats and steering wheels, my toddlers can sit comfortably and entertained (for some time if they’re in a good mood) and I can fit a bunch of groceries! 

These days I don’t always go to the store with them because I often take advantage of the time one of the grandmas comes to visit to run errands, but they love going to the store now just so they can “drive.”

Grocery Shopping with my Babies -- Thanks Mommy Blog

5- What Do I Do When My Child Sees Me Get Something They Want Right Away?

This one is a bit tricky and I have recently struggled with it with my food hungry daughter a couple of times. I think this happens most when she is actually hungry. 

Sometimes I try to grab these items without her noticing or I make sure she’s distracted and doesn’t see me grab it and hide it in the cart.

If I ever get to a point where I can’t calm her down I will probably have to give her a snack to distract her, which I don’t love doing while shopping but its not a bad option.

Toys and snacking are always decent solutions. Everyone does it! 

Some stores, like our favorite, Publix, offers free cookies to kids. You could also stop by the deli and get something sliced and have them try it (mom hack!), make sure you get enough for the whole shopping trip just in case. Fruits are also great options. If you need to, you can even open a bag of pretzels off the snacks isle as long as you pay for it.

The best solution though, is to make sure your child has a full tummy before going to the store, which was my mistake on our last trip down the baby food isle last week just before lunchtime.

6- How Do I Keep My Child From Getting Bored and Having A Fit?

Every mom wants the answer to this question! 

Now I’ll admit that since I don’t take them all the time, and the fact that they have each other for entertainment, I currently have this “resolved” on good days. 

I can’t tell you that I have your solution but I do have some tips. 

As you can tell by now I’m an over-thinker and pre-planner so I plan how and what I need. 

I find that keeping a list of what I need to get at the store makes things quicker and smoother. Better yet I rearrange my list in order of my store’s isles. I start from one end of the store and make my way to the other end, getting everything I need on the way to avoid wasting time going back and forth between isles. 

I can be in an out of a store in 30 minutes when I do this and then they don’t have much time to get bored. It takes a little memorizing of where things are and doesn’t always work when you’re getting something you’re not familiar with.

Another thing I will occasionally do, either at the beginning or the end of our grocery trip, is to get a free cookie for the kids. I don’t like to do this often because I don’t want to spoil their appetite, but primarily, I don’t want them to expect a cookie and only behave if they get one every time we come to the store. I want them to understand it is a reward. 

Sometimes when I notice my kids getting bored I try to move the cart down the isle, pretending we’re racing and swerving. Other times I have my oldest (who talks more) tell me what he sees around the store or maybe “help” me find things. I’ll even let them hold and shake boxes of pasta or cereal to make music, as long as they don’t rip them open.

Sometimes kids get bored because they feel uninvolved, a little conversation or game-play can easily liven up their mood and get you out the store quicker.

Disclosure: I have included some affiliate links throughout this post. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Pick-Up and Delivery Alternatives

I have had a few days where the weather was unbearable and I couldn’t go out shopping with two kids, or my kid may have been too sick and I needed groceries right away. 

Some of these days my husband was able to stop by the store and grab a few things but other times I used Instacart to get my groceries delivered to me by my local stores. There are other companies that do the same as well. 

I was skeptical about it at first, especially about the selection of meats and produce but I was happily surprised. Granted, I did have to pay approximately $6 in delivery fees, taxes, and add a tip (which I could apply after receiving my delivery). 

On some days it was definitely worth it, but I can manage going to the store on a regular basis and we enjoy it now.

I have not tried the pick-up options, as my usual store does not offer it at the time. I have heard very little so far about it, but a few friends had positive outcomes. 

I do see this growing though, Target just added parking spaces specifically for pick-ups so you don’t even have to leave your car- that would be amazing!

Solution Options

Here are some methods that may work for you for seating and entertaining your children. Some of these I have tried for a while and some I found more recently and would’ve loved to have tried while my daughter was still a baby.

  • Baby Wearing
  • Bumbo Seat inside shopping cart
  • Buggy Bench
  • Shopping Cart Baby Hammock
  • Use your Stroller
  • Use Hooks & Reusable Shopping Bags for Storage
  • Toy or Bottle Tether Straps for entertainment or snacking
  • Order something at the Deli (they give you slices to try)

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Readers:

What struggles do you face shopping with your kids?

What solutions work for you?


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amateurtwinmom
amateurtwinmom

Great tips! I can relate to some of your shopping experiences. I have two of my own.

crystalr819

shopping with 2 is hard! I used to have a backpack with a “leach” when I had to go to a store with only a one seater cart. You do what you have too. I once had a 5yr, 2yr (runner) and a newborn. I just didn’t want my kid… Read more »

becomingschultz
becomingschultz

Oh I love your car carts way more than ours!!! It can be so hard with two littles, I had 2 under 2 and man was it tough! Awesome tips!

thecuriousfrugal
thecuriousfrugal

I love how you thought this through! I am a planner for this kind of thing as well :-). Before having a kid I never thought about the logistics of grocery shopping with them. For sure you can wing it, but why wouldn’t you want things to go more smoothly?… Read more »

Amy Carr

There really is not much room for groceries after us mommas load the kids into the cart. The toy car carts are so hard to manage as well. It’s a struggle for sure. I have had some crazy experiences myself LOL. Great Read!

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