SIMPLY kc Magazine – June 2012 issue
PARENTING: by Stacey Hatton
Little kids are not wired for this mundane activity. You have them strapped into a shopping cart, facing you, and expect them to sit quietly and not whine when you aren’t entertaining them? I know there are a handful of über parents with their Photoshopped babies cooing and posing while allowing them to perform price comparisons, sorting of coupons and use their barcode scanner apps, but this is NOT the norm. Most parents need to consider how to improve their shopping trip by keeping their children safe, planning ahead, and building up the child’s self-esteem.
General Safety Stats According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “Every year, thousands of children are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for falls from shopping carts. Falls from shopping carts are among the leading causes of head injuries to young children and most often occur when children stand up in the child seat or the cart basket.” Usually, this is because the safety equipment on the cart is not being used correctly, or when parents are looking away, the kids are able to “Houdini” their way out of restraints. The CPSC continues, “Children can also fall from the shopping cart seat even when an infant seat, infant carrier or a car seat is placed in the cart seat.”
Preventing shopping cart falls: (Source: CPSC)
- Use seat belts to restrain your child in the cart seat.
- Stay with your child at all times.
- Don’t allow your child to ride in the cart basket.
- Don’t allow your child to ride or climb on the sides or front of the cart.
- Don’t allow a child to push the cart with another child in it.
Planning is Essential
The Nemours Foundation suggests “setting rules about (your child’s) behavior before you go.” Trying to establish rules at the market is not the best place to get your child to focus on your instructions. There are too many distractions for the child to participate in a successful errand.
Infants – A full tummy and dry diaper before the errand are necessary. If you can get a sleeping baby in her carrier placed into the large portion of the cart, you are as good as gold. Granted you don’t have much room for groceries, but there are too many accidents of carts and infant seats to chance it. Toys or a bottle can save you when her patience runs low.
Toddlers – If you have to bring your toddler, make sure you follow the tummy/diaper advice from above. (Actually, don’t we all do better at the store with a full stomach and empty bladder?) Make sure to have your child belted securely into the cart. One quick turn of your head and they will dive for the fruit snacks. If they are continually impatient or fussy, pull out the sippy cup and your prepared container of Cheddar bunnies or their vice of choice.
Preschoolers – This age is easier for public adventures. Most enjoy helping and playing games. You can have them locate certain fruits and vegetables to build their vocabulary. A game of “I Spy” works well in the inner aisles, and having them find colors and shapes, can keep them entertained. Educating your child instead of having to say “No!” the entire trip can be fun and stimulating.
Heidi Prentice, an Overland Park mom of two, makes grocery shopping time a festival of fun for her kids. “…each gets a balloon and that distracts them through the fruit and vegetable aisles. A cookie keeps them good through most of the store, until they get to the deli area where they have their cheese course.”
Follow-up Instructions When leaving the grocery store make sure to thank your children for their assistance and/or good behavior during the errand. Making them feel as if you couldn’t have done the job as successfully without their help or company will make the trip a positive experience for them, and odds are they will behave better the next trip. Or if you would rather bang your head against the meat freezer instead of take your child to the market; you can always opt for a sitter, your spouse, a family member, or trade with another struggling parent to watch your kids while you go alone!