Shopping Strategies with Small Children

Holiday shopping can be chaotic, tiring, and frustrating. It becomes even more so when you have a small child with you, both for you and your child. These tips will help you cope with the job of holiday shopping with a little one.

Respect Limits

Children have only a short amount of time before they become bored, hungry, tired, or overstimulated. Limit your excursion to one or two hours. Be sure to bring some snacks and remove your child’s coat once you are indoors to prevent overheating. If you expect to have to wait in line, bring a book or small toy to keep him or her occupied.

Remember That Children Are Curious

Children are naturally curious. Before entering the store, explain to your child that they are only to touch items with your assistance. Engage your child in conversation and questions as you shop to make it more fun for both of you. This natural curiosity can lead a child to wander, so keeping them within eyesight all the time is your best strategy.

Have an Escape Plan

If you’ve reached the limit of your patience, take a break. Plan on leaving the store if you or your child gets too impatient, cranky, hungry, or tired. Trying to complete your purchases with this stress is counterproductive and will probably result in your disappointment in the outcome. If your child begins to have a meltdown, go outside for a few minutes, visit the food court, or just leave the store with a plan to return at another time. Remember that shopping can wait; an exhausted, hungry, or overexcited child cannot.

Avoid the Crowds

Avoid shopping just before dinner, when the stores are crowded or the days right before Christmas. If possible, visit stores in the morning or early afternoon on weekdays or later in the evening between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.

Bring Some Help

Shop with another adult to help share the child care load. You can take turns browsing and spending time with the children. You will also probably enjoy the experience with a friend or family member shopping with you.