Family Grocery Shopping: 7 Tips for a Smooth Shopping Experience with Babies and Toddlers in Tow

When I lived in China, I could never go to the supermarket to shop by myself. Our building didn’t have an elevator, and to climb all those stairs with my eldest as a baby, the diaper bag, and whatever I’d need to buy at the store, it was impossible.

Fortunately, my husband and I would go together along with our baby. Once we moved back to the states, though, I couldn’t wait to run errands (yes, even grocery shopping!) with my eldest (who was in preschool at the time) and my youngest (who had just turned 1).

For me, grocery shopping with kids felt like old hat. Perhaps because despite being clingy, my youngest was a really easy baby. She loved going places, and unlike her older sister, she never once threw a fit in a store.

Shopping with a toddler is tough stuff, and while I didn’t go grocery shopping with a newborn all on my own, I have many helpful tips that will make this experience a whole lot easier for you all.

How soon can I take a newborn out in public?

According to Johns Hopkins, taking your baby out in public is perfectly fine. Fresh air and stimulation of new experiences do everyone good. However, newborns are still developing their immune systems, so it’s not the best idea to take them to crowded places.

For this reason, many parents wait a few months until the baby gets his first vaccines. But if you’re not willing to wait (and for many, are unable), then you’ll just have to be proactive when you go places and encounter others.

Remember, your baby is just as likely to catch something from a treasured loved one coming into your home with germs as they are from going somewhere else. Use proper hygienic methods at home and on the go to keep your baby healthy.

Honestly, during these times with the pandemic around, it’s probably best to leave your baby and kids with your spouse while you do the shopping. If your other kids are in school, it should be fine since they’re already around everyone anyway.

However, I do realize, though that not every mama has the option to leave her kids with someone every time she needs to run to the store. And while mine are bigger now, I’ve absolutely taken them along with me to the supermarket during coronavirus. I’ll have tips on all that below so keep reading.

How to go grocery shopping with a newborn

First, let’s talk about how to do grocery shopping with an infant under normal circumstances. Because all those things STILL apply even with COVID-19 around.

Pack your diaper bag

I know you’re just running in there for milk, butter, eggs, and a few other things, but can I just tell you something? When you leave your diaper bag without the essentials, that is exactly when one of those diaper blowouts I recently wrote about will happen. Trust!

So, make sure you have:

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disposable changing pad
  • Lightweight blanket
  • Plastic bag (for diaper mess)
  • Pacifiers if you use them (bring extras!)
  • Formula bottle or your nursing cover if you use it (just in case!)
  • Extra outfits (again, see my post on diaper blowouts)

Find a place for baby

baby grocery shop with mom

Some stores have a handy shopping cart stroller that you can use. Pandemic or not, wipe it down religiously every single time. If your supermarket doesn’t have those, you have a few options when you have an infant.

Option #1:

You can simply do what I did, which was to wear my baby. I brought along a baby carrier because it was lightweight and easy to take.

Option #2:

You can set the car seat inside the shopping cart. I want to warn you that you should never put that infant car seat on the top part of the shopping cart because it unbalances it, which means it could tip over, and your baby could fall.

You can put that car seat inside the cart though you won’t have much room for groceries. If you don’t have much to buy on this trip to the store, though, that should be fine.

Option #3:

You can use a baby hammock. They’re great for newborns, so you can safely lay them in the cart, keep germs away, and you can use those when the baby can sit up on her own too.

I’ll list some great options for these at the end of this post so read onward!

Feed baby first

Now, one of the things I listed you should bring is a bottle with formula or your breastfeeding cover. Ideally, though, you should FEED BABY FIRST. This will keep her from getting cranky and hungry.

Mom eye-contacts with her baby while breastfeeding

I always say to bring these things because you honestly never know if you will get stuck in traffic, run into a friend, have car trouble, or anything else that could possibly come up that would turn a quick trip to the store into something longer.

Prepare by feeding the baby before leaving and bringing future sustenance, so you don’t have any unexpected trouble.

Oh, and if you’re grocery shopping with a toddler, too, bring snacks. You’ve been warned!

Go when it’s less crowded

Next to feeding the baby first, going when stores aren’t as busy is a much more pleasant experience. Either go well before or after the baby’s nap. This will ensure you don’t get a grocery store outburst that has everyone turning to stare. Plus, if this is your first trip anywhere with your baby, it might be overwhelming if it’s too busy.

Make a list

Winging it at the supermarket is fine when you’ve left your husband, parents, or another caretaker with your newborn and other kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wafted down the aisles, tasted samples (the best was when they had wine samples!), and chatted up everyone I came across.

When you’re grocery shopping with kids, though, do not leave without a list. It’s a good habit to teach them anyway. My eldest now makes a list for me. The younger one helps, but her spelling sometimes makes us wonder what we told her to put on the list.

Go for short and sweet

The first time you take a baby to the supermarket, keep it a short trip. The shopping you do before Thanksgiving dinner is definitely not the best time. Ditto for Christmas dinner. This should be practice for a bigger shopping trip, so keep your list short, keep your trip short, and build your confidence.

Park in the right places

young mom keeping shopping bags in the car

Depending on where you’re located and the supermarkets available to you, you could find yourself with reserved parking for moms with newborns. Several grocery and wholesale clubs offer this special parking section, making it easier to get in and out of the store without a fuss.

If your store doesn’t have that, my next suggestion is to park by the shopping cart return area. It’s something I still do, even when I’m grocery shopping all by my lonesome. It makes it so much easier to return the cart and get on with my life.

But if you have a shopping cart hammock and groceries and that baby and everything, you will want to be close to jettison the cart while easily loading up your car. The first time you do this, it WILL feel awkward, but I promise after a couple of trips to the store with your baby, you’ll feel confident.

How to do grocery shopping with your baby during COVID-19

And now, I’d like to address what new mamas who’ve had their babies during this wild ride of the year should do with grocery shopping amid the pandemic. I’d also like to mention that smart hygiene practices are essential whether there is a pandemic or not and will help keep your whole family healthy.

That being said, these tips are for those of you that are particularly worried about coronavirus, especially with infants who don’t have all their other vaccinations just yet. I remember being concerned about my youngest in China when there was a measles outbreak, and we were just another month off from her scheduled measles shot. It all worked out, but I know that feeling of relief once your child gets important vaccines.

  • Choose contactless pickup or delivery

My top option for you if you are worried about taking a newborn grocery shopping during COVID-19 is to order your groceries online. Some stores offer delivery, though, from what friends of mine have told me; you could be paying quite a bit more in charges, plus tipping those that do the shopping for you.

wear a mask

But you don’t have to go broke. Plenty of other retailers are offering contactless pickup at no additional charge. It varies by store and location, so check into it in your area.

  • Shop early in the morning if possible

If you can, go first thing in the morning when you go grocery shopping with your infant. The store will have recently been disinfected, and there are very few people in the store at that hour anyway.

  • Always clean your cart

Unless the store has a devoted person scrubbing every little crevice on the carts when you walk in, use your disinfecting wipes to clean your shopping cart.

  • Wear your mask

Children under the age of 2 can’t wear a face mask, but you can. I’ve seen some enterprising parents put those face shields on their babies. I can’t find anything for or against it online, but it’s probably what I’d do if my daughters were too young to wear masks now.

  • Don’t touch your face

I said this at the beginning of the pandemic. This rule still applies. If you can train yourself to avoid touching your face from now on, you will significantly reduce your risk of illness from COVID-19 as well as any other illness.

  • Keep your distance

We’re all tired of this whole thing, believe me, but keep that distance between you and other people, especially when you are grocery shopping with kids.

Products to Help You with Grocery Shopping with a Newborn

Before I go, I want to show you all some helpful products that make grocery shopping with an infant a lot easier, so check them out!

  1. Boba Baby Wrap Carrier

For a newborn, you can’t go wrong with this easy-to-wrap carrier that adjusts to any size. Tie it on and breastfeed discretely. My friend Cathy said she loved this because she could tie it over her coat or under it too without her or the baby feeling uncomfortable. On the downside, it is only for use for up to 3 months, but it really is a no-fuss way to carry a baby when you need to be hands-free.

  1. Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock

This is such a brilliant idea! This cottony-soft yet sturdy hammock goes across the bed of the cart, clamping to the side. It features a belt to secure the baby in, and off you go! You can shop while still having room in the cart for your essentials. Even that big diaper box will fit just fine. If you have a newborn or a baby that hasn’t yet mastered sitting up, this will make grocery shopping with a newborn way easier!

  1. Boppy Shopping Cart Cover

And finally, if you have a baby or toddler that can sit up, you’ll want a shopping cart cover. It goes over that seating area in the cart, giving your little one a soft, safe, and clean place to sit. As a side bonus, it can also be used in most restaurant high chairs too. There’s an attached toy that should keep the baby busy while keeping you from having to scoop it off the floor.

And yes, you COULD use your stroller here, too, but I do not recommend that at the grocery store unless you have someone to help you. Happy grocery shopping with your baby!

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