tips for enjoying grocery shopping with 2 under 2

My daughter is 2 now but I had 2 kids under 2 until very recently. I can honestly say that I enjoy grocery shopping with my kids… most of the time. We have had some horror stories I can assure you but over time I’ve “perfected” a little system that works for us. Here is what I have found.

Pick your timing

  • timing is crucial. Steer clear of nap times (although babies napping times are fine if they sleep in a trolley baby seat), times when the shops are very busy, and times when your children normally are the most energetic.
  • Personally I like to wave goodbye to hubby, put a load of washing on, have breakfast, dress the kids, then let Alexis play while I feed the baby, get some supplies together, do a quick tidy of the kitchen, swap the washing into dryer or hang it on the line and then go.
  • For us that means I usually leave here about 9:30. I do this deliberately so we miss the school traffic 
  • 10am is morning tea time for Alexis so I take it with us. This means she eats happily in the trolley for a while (I know, I have it easy).

Be prepared

  • have a shopping list in aisle order so you don’t have to spend more time there than you have to
  • take mess-free snacks that are sort of treats such as a packet of sultanas or tiny teddies
  • take a water bottle, dummies and a toy for each child
  • take something to line the baby seat with. Personally I find a flannelette bassinet sheet works the best
  • take the pram out of the boot. I don’t bother trying to juggle handbaskets over the pram. It doesn’t work. I find using a double trolley so much easier. So I leave the pram at home. The extra boot space makes loading the groceries into the car soooo much easier and faster.
  • I let Alexis wear something really cute and tell her she’s going to be mummy’s special helper. I fake being excited about going shopping so she sees it as being an adventure.

Choose your location

  • If possible choose a quieter shopping center with a big carpark and plenty of space to move in the store even if it means driving to a supermarket further away.
  • my shopping center has an undercover carpark which is so very handy


  • my kids are 19 months apart so I NEED a trolley that has a baby capsule seat and a toddler (normal) seat. I don’t attempt groceries without one. If I can’t find one I’ll use a baby seat trolley and let Alexis ride while I get a few basic things but I don’t get so many things that I have to take her out to fit the bagged groceries in at the end. This I learned the hard way.
  • instead of carrying baby William while dragging Alexis to the supermarket and hoping they have the trolley I need I drive around the shopping centre carpark until I find one then take the closest availale park to there. I then fetch the trolley and take it to the car before I unload it kids. (Undercover quiet safe car park.) It’s easiest to get Alexis into the trolley at the beginning of our trip because that way she can’t run off to a shopping center ride and cause a scene. 

this is an old photo but this is the kind of trolley I mean

Let the oldest child ‘help’

  • I pass Alexis things and let her throw them behind her into the trolley. Only things that won’t smash of course.
  • I also let her bag the fruit and vegetables. She loves it.

Relax. Have fun with the kids. 

  • if the kids get restless I start to make “brrm, brrrm” noises as we race around the store and “screech” when we stop to pick something off the shelves. Whatever it takes. I would rather passers by stare at me for that than for a screaming child or two.
  • I also am pretty shameless when it comes to talking to the checkout operator. I say things like “my little helper was so good today” and more often that not they’ll say something positive like “I love your shirt darling”, or “what a pretty dress”, or “what a good girl for mummy!” We always wave goodbye to. The checkout operators don’t mind, usually they are more than happy to help me out in that way. I used to work checkouts, it’s boring, I never minded having a quick chat to a child while I scanned things. 

Set the scene for next time

  • praise your children for being so well behaved. Tell them how proud you are. Tell them how helpful they were. You’d be amazed how well they respond to this.
  • If it didn’t go well, keep a mental note of what to change next time or just laugh it off as a bad experience but don’t give up. I have Alexis well trained now but it took a few embarrassing outings first.
  • I say to Alexis “thank you so much for helping mummy with the shopping. Now daddy doesn’t have to stop at the shops on his way home from work and we have more time to play with him tonight”. 

Unloading at home

  • this is where timing is important. If I’m really lucky William falls asleep on the way home (that’s why I make silly noises to keep him awake at the shops). I then put him in the cot before chucking some TV on for Alexis while I bring everything in and put it away as quickly as possible. Although I often give Alexis a bag or two to bring in so she feels especially helpful.
  • If I’m feeling very adventurous I let her pull things out of the bags and pass them to me to put away but usually by now she is over it and I’m just trying to get everything away before William wants a feed. 

If all else fails

  • when they’ve had a cold and haven’t been anywhere at all for a week, the first day they wake up snot-free take them grocery shopping. If they were getting cabin fever as bad as my two were then they will love it.;-)