What words come to mind when you think about grocery shopping with your children?
Chaos? Distraction? Battles, Exhausting?
If you answered “yes!” to any of these, you are not alone! Most parents would agree that any and all of these words may be applicable at times. But did you know that taking your children grocery shopping can be a wonderful learning experience for them? It is also one of the best things that you can do to discourage picky eating and encourage a more adventurous attitude towards food! So, since it is so beneficial to have them along, here are a few tips to make the experience more enjoyable, and less frazzling, for everyone.
- Enter Prepared. Before leaving for the store look through your fridge and cupboards and come up with a list of the things you will need. This will reduce the chance of you forgetting something if you are distracted by your child and also reduces the temptation to purchase un-needed items just because they are on sale or look appetizing as you walk by them.
- Involve your children in planning. Involve your child in making the list by allowing for them to plan ahead for ONE item they wish to buy. This will teach them the importance of planning ahead and takes away the grocery aisle battle of them constantly asking to add things to the cart. And if they do ask for an additional item while you are in the store, you have a calm and easy answer of “You already chose your item for today. Perhaps you would like to keep the new item in mind for next week when we come back.” A wonderful life lesson on many levels!
- Set ground rules. Remind your children before you enter the grocery store of the item they have added to the list and that there will not be any additional items to that for them to choose. Also let them know if you wish for them to sit in the cart or walk near you.
- Create teaching moments. When age appropriate, ask your child to choose 5 apples and 4 oranges, etc. This exercise helps with food recognition and counting skills and also gives them a sense of autonomy and purpose. Children love to feel able and needed!
- Offer new food exposure. In addition to your child’s chosen item, you may wish to let them choose one new fruit or vegetable they wish to try in the coming week. This is a great activity to increase their interest in trying a new food or “re-trying” a food they didn’t care for in the past.
- Take snacks. Aim to shop after early in the day or after nap time if possible. And no matter what time of day it is, it is best to have a snack along with you. Children tend to act out more when they are tired or hungry. In fact, that is true for most of us!
- Stay Focussed. Remember that your main attention needs to be on your children and your grocery list. If you start looking at your phone or chatting with a neighbor you happen to run into, your child is more likely to act out. We can set children up for success with our behaviour cues as adults.
Although there may still be moments of chaos in any grocery trip with children in tow, I hope that these tips help keep your upcoming outings more manageable and enjoyable for everyone! Happy shopping!
Noelle is a mom of 6 year old twin boys and a 3 year old son. She is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for nutrition, fitness, and all things related to motherhood. Almost three years ago Noelle started her Instagram feed to give moms ideas of ways to make healthy choices for themselves and their little ones. Now in addition to sharing delicious and healthy recipes she talks about aspects of motherhood. From the early days of breastfeeding to grocery shopping with toddlers to making school lunches and everything in between! motherhoodandmeals.com
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