I love going grocery shopping. I’m a foodie at heart and love lingering in the baking aisle, browsing through all of the new ingredients. The grocery store is my learning laboratory and source of inspiration for my recipes.
Once I had my son, Liam, I knew I had to make sure he also enjoyed grocery shopping. Liam is almost two years old now, and we go grocery shopping together at least twice a week. The trips have evolved over time, as illustrated below.
Newborn: My goal was to plan shopping trips during his naps. That way, he was asleep, and I could enjoy my shopping.
Holding Head Up: I would carry him in a front-facing baby carrier, and he would happily walk with me for as long as we were at the supermarket. He loved taking in all the new sights and sounds at the grocery store.
Sitting Up: I always came prepared with all of his favorite toys and snacks. Sometimes, I’d even bring a bottle when we were shopping in Target. I’d go over to the home section, find the softest pillow money could buy, lay Liam in the cart and let him drink his bottle. Instant quiet shopping.
Speaking: Lights and wheels have always mesmerized Liam. The grocery store is full of lights and carts with wheels, so we were good to go. As long as I had snacks at the ready and had something to point out to him at all times, it was a great trip.
Walking: When he first learned to walk, and I could actually keep up with him, I’d let the little explorer roam the aisles. This was a fun way to show him different fruits and vegetables and even how cans roll when you put them on their sides.
Running: Shopping with a running toddler who occasionally throws temper tantrums is tricky — but manageable. Bypassing the tempting aisles with junk food, we go for the aisles with the learning opportunities. I like to show and say every food we put in our cart. That way, we can have a little vocabulary lesson on the go. Also, some of the grocery stores we go to have the carts that look like cars, with fake steering wheels and everything. It’s like he gets to play with a new toy when we go to the grocery store.
As Liam gets older, I’m looking forward to giving him secret grocery store missions, allowing him to be the spy who grabs the last bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and the most beautiful strawberries available. Then those items will mysteriously “appear” in our cart. We’ll make it a fun scavenger hunt and learning experience! It’s not exactly farm to table, but I also hope that learning about nutritious foods and how to turn them into delicious dishes will make him more inclined to eat healthy and enjoy the dishes we prepare together.