What’s acceptable when shopping with a toddler?

Softdrinks in supermarket

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I don’t know about you, but when I go out shopping with my toddler, I’m focused on pacing ourselves through the experience rather than being super strict and facing the potential tantrum consequences. I try giving babe the freedom, and when the opportunity arises I attempt to make trawling round the isles and racks as much of a game as possible.

The thing is, I’m not sure what is deemed as acceptable, how much freedom should a child have to run around (obviously without causing a hazard)?

The weekly supermarket trip is one such occasion when I wonder if I’ve struck the right balance or simply bounded straight over it. These days, I usually go to the supermarket early one weekday evening and take babe along for the ride. She actually likes it, as long as I don’t confine her to the seat in the trolley for the full duration (she will tolerate for short bursts of time). But I am quite liberal about letting her toddle around after me and sometimes, admittedly she does go wandering off and I’m left thinking, oh crap where is she now?!

This displeases some shoppers who are zooming around at break neck speeds (sometimes me when I’m on my own I admit), who don’t want a little one stopping dead all of a sudden in front of their trolley. That happened to me last week, a woman shouted over to me “er excuse me” while indicating that my daughter was in her way. I was very tempted to say “er, why not move round the child woman”.  But another part of me felt guilty and questioned that perhaps I shouldn’t be letting babe walk along stopping and starting, peering and sniffing, scratching and scraping…

In all honesty,  there is no way I could get babe to sit in the trolley for over an hour while I consider all my weekly food purchases – working out the cheapest way to buy that bag of pasta for example. Could you get your little on to stay in the trolley without kicking up a fuss for this duration?  Or am I being too soft and not cracking down hard enough?

Admittedly, letting babe walk part of the time while in the shop does take extra time. But I’d rather that, than have her ball her head off – I’m sure people would be scorning upon me more for this.

And sometimes it does mean that I get to the counter with some rather random items in the trolley that need to be deposited next to the conveyor belt in a hope that some shop keeper will re-home it later (why do people do that, I always wondered to myself? I know now that it’s not necessarily because they are a totally indecisive dim wit, but because they have little fingered kiddies in tow).

I also break the rule of letting babe eat while we are in a shop. When she is a bit older and better able to plan ahead to overcome hunger issues, then I’ll crack down on it. But sometimes letting her munch on a mushroom – yes she loves raw mushrooms – is worth the random glances. I should add that I do always pay for what she has eaten en route.

Going to the supermarket is also a great opportunity for her to have some  fun. If the isles are quiet you might find us racing up and down them skidding on the floors, playing tag. Perhaps I should be setting a better example? I must stress, this is when no one is in them, so surely no harm is done? Children are children after all. I do appreciate the concept of ‘a time and a place’ but when its quiet surely there is no harm in making this an enjoyable rather than harassed experience?

So what’s your view/experience of shopping with a toddler?

Have you had snotty remarks from other shoppers? Do you have the same challenges, or do you have it all under control? If you do, then I’d love to hear how you do it.


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