tips for grocery shopping with a toddler with a free printable!
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Tips for Grocery Shopping with a Toddler {FREE Toddler Grocery List Printable}

tips for grocery shopping with a toddler with a free printable!

Grocery shopping with a toddler can sometimes be challenging, but it can also be filled with wonderful learning opportunities. Taking the time to teach our children through the grocery store can transform a dreaded shopping trip into a fun memory making opportunity.

Slow down

If I’m in a hurry, my toddler is inevitably going to have a complete and total break down in the middle of the store.

I am a parent of an observer, and he will always identify most with the tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare. This is his personality and rushing him only upsets him.

Sometimes I must hurry through the store in order to finish the day’s errands, but if I have the choice and can plan for margin, then grocery shopping with my toddler is much more fun.

Let them help

I tend to let my toddler (31 months) choose whether he wants to walk or ride while we grocery shop. Then while we shop I allow him to help.

For example:

  • When it’s time to pick out the bananas, I allow him to choose which ones we put in the cart.
  • I let him pull the cans of tomatoes off the shelf and place them in the cart.
  • We work on being gentle and asking for help when something is too heavy.
  • He counts the potatoes as we put them in our bag.
  • He chooses which fruit we’ll take home – apples or pears this week?

Allowing him to help engages his curious mind and keeps him busy while we complete an important task for our family.

If you really want to make things fun, bring along a Toddler Grocery List!

My toddler loved the Nature Scavenger Hunt because he loved checking items off the list. So, I took this idea and created his very own grocery shopping list.

I put on it things we purchase each week and stuck it in a sheet protector. He uses a dry erase marker to mark items off the list as we put them in our basket.

In case you might like it too, you can Download Your Toddler Grocery List Printable Here.

Talk about what you see

As we walk through the store, we talk about what we see. I point out colors, shapes, and smells. The fresh produce section is loaded with learning opportunities. We do lots of counting and math, as well as talking about letters and words we see.

In addition, I keep my eye out for people who might need help and attempt to train my toddler to be on the lookout as well.

For example:

  • If an older lady drops a peach, I ask him to help her pick it up.
  • We work on waiting patiently when someone takes a bit longer than usual to choose which eggs they want.
  • We talk about what could be causing the baby to cry and what we can do to help.

We also work on common courtesy and manners in the checkout line. I help him ask the cashier and/or person helping bag our groceries how they are doing today? He’s a social butterfly so this took very little training and now he carries on conversations each week without any prompting from me. I love how he can make them smile and laugh!

The older he gets the more I become aware of the amazing opportunities found to serve others in the grocery store. It’s a goldmine of opportunity! Plus he is learning valuable skills as we complete an otherwise mundane chore of the week.


If you’re interested in other ways to teach your toddler or preschooler to serve, I highly recommend Teach Me to Serve. Kristen Summers walks you through 99 ways preschoolers can learn to serve and bless others. Teaching my son to serve others and to develop the heart of hospitality is a passion of mine. This book was helpful in giving me some ideas to guide my son in these early years! You can learn more about Teach Me to Serve here.

What about you? How do you engage your toddler in the grocery store?

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  1. Great ideas! I love the shopping list. 🙂 I can still remember playing “trash man” with my older brother at the grocery store. My mom would tell us what to take off the shelf and put into the “trash truck,” and then one of us would hop on the cart ride to the next “trash”. So fun!

  2. Wow, what a great idea to bring a toddler grocery list! Shopping with a two year old (and an infant, yikes) is challenging and I’m always trying to incorporate ways to make it less stressful. She loves to organize the groceries while we go and unload the cart at the register. I never thought of giving her her own list though. Can’t wait to try this out.
    Love your other tips and book suggestion as well. Thanks.

    1. I know the feeling of grocery shopping with an infant and 2 year old. I’m with you. Once I’m there I’m fine. But getting there is the problem for me right now. My baby does not like the carseat. I wish he’d be entertained by a list. haha! I’m glad this was helpful! It’s so fun!