3 Quick Tips for Shopping with Toddlers in Tow 

Heather Curlee Novak

Do you dream of taking your toddlers into stores? How about nice stores, with breakable things and sample lotions and tiny stuff at their little kid eye level? Nice stores with things they can reach like jewelry racks, ceramic tea pots and lip balm samples. And in your dream your kids don’t break anything? I’m here to tell you it’s possible! Here are 3 quick tips for shopping with toddlers in tow and to help you enjoy having nice kids in nice stores. 

1) Outline Your Expectations Before You Go.

I got this priceless tip from my mother-in-love. My daughters, Portia and Libby, were 4 and 2 years old at the time. I would tell them before we went into a store or restaurant that I expected them to behave nicely, use their manners and be sweet to people. I treated them respectfully and included them in the conversation about behavior in advance. Kids included in the conversation are better about following the directions.   

2)  One Finger Touch. 

Kids want to touch things. Part of the joy of a store for anyone is touching new, sparkly, shiny, breakable things.  So I came up with and taught the girls “One Finger Touch,” and they are very good about it most of the time.  “One Finger Touch” means they get to touch the pretty stuff with one finger, because it is hard to pick up (and then drop) something with only one finger!  

3)  Wave a Reward for LATER.

I often tell my girls that if they behave well during our errand, I’ll take them to get a treat afterward. Some good old-fashioned bribery! If food or cost is an issue for you, make it TV time, doing a craft together or a small prize like a new coloring book.  

I want to have fun and enjoy life with my girls and my awesome husband, so good behavior is important. Don’t get me wrong, we have terrible days too. Days with everyone, including me, in timeouts every half hour. There is crying and time alone in rooms and lots of prayers for help from God, who is the ultimate parent. But I have found that these 3 quick tips for shopping with toddlers in tow helped Portia and Libby behave well most of the time.  And their Mama too!  


Heather Curlee Novak is a wild mama, encourager of women, motivational speaker, radio personality and author with a sprinkling of Bell’s palsy.  Find her online at www.HeatherNovakSpeaker.com. 

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