Lindsay, A. 2020, Shopping with Kids, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP
shopping with child


  • Park wisely. Choose a space near the cart corrals instead of looking for a spot closest to the entrance. Having easy access to the carts makes it easier to get your kids ready to go in, unload groceries to your car, and return your shopping cart.
  • Let your child make her own "shopping list" at home. Have her choose a recipe to help prepare or snacks she'll want for the week. Have her make a list by drawing the items she chose. At the store let her be responsible for "reading" items on her list.
  • Avoid going to the store when you and your child are hungry. Nothing will ruin your grocery trip more than a hungry toddler meltdown, and if you shop while you're famished you'll be more likely to make unplanned (and unhealthy) purchases. Eat a light snack before you head to the store or bring some easy to carry snacks along.
  • Set expectations. When you arrive at the store, make a plan with your child to choose GO foods instead of WHOA foods. If possible, allow her to choose one new and one familiar GO food.
  • Skip the samples If it's something you don't want your child to try, this will minimize begging, pleading, and crying. Some supermarkets offer GO foods for small kids to sample in the produce aisle!
  • Stick with the plan. You want to get in and out as efficiently as possible so organize a grocery list with the items grouped in similar areas of the store. This will keep you from running back and forth from one side of the store to the other. Remember: the healthiest foods are usually found on the perimeter of the store!


Playing games while in the store can be fun for everybody. For example, you and your children can play a game of:

  • "Guess the weight" Pick a certain produce item and then ask your child tell you how much they think it weighs; once you're both ready for the answer, just lay it on the scale and find out.
  • "Guess the price" Point to a certain product you're planning to purchase and then have your child guess how much it costs.
  • Play "I-Spy" See if your child can locate something green in the produce section. Encourage your kids to look around and be engaged with their surroundings.
  • "Guess the ingredients" Tell your child you're making spaghetti sauce, have them "guess" what you need to buy for spaghetti sauce. Then, have them help you make it!


Helwig, J. (2019, March 1). 6 Ways to Make Grocery Shopping with Kids Not Awful.

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Extension Director's Office | On the campus of University of Nevada, Reno