How can I take my baby to the store?

When you’re a new parent, leaving the house can seem impossible — forget about taking baby to the store. You might be worried about germs affecting your little one’s delicate immune system. Or, you might feel unprepared to deal with spit-up, diaper changes, and tantrums outside of the comfort of your home. The longer you’ve been hanging out at home, the more intimidating it can seem.

But don’t worry! Taking baby to the store doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. The trick? Preparation. By thinking through the trip and anticipating each aspect of this new type of outing, you can handle it like a pro. That way, you can keep baby happy and take care of your shopping list at the same time.

Before You Leave the House:

1. Stock the Diaper Bag

Before you go to the store, grab your diaper bag. Stock it with all of the things you need in case of a diaper change: diapers, wipes, and lotion are must-haves. It’s also a good idea to toss in some toys, an extra onesie, and an outer layer of clothing.

Just taking baby to the store for a few minutes? Resist the temptation to leave your supplies behind. If there’s a blowout, a well-stocked diaper bag can go a long way toward reducing your stress. Plus, you can feel more relaxed knowing that you have everything you need to keep your little one comfortable.

2. Pack Feeding Supplies

When there’s traffic or a flat tire, a short trip to the store can turn into a multi-hour adventure. Before you know it, it’s feeding time and your little one isn’t ready to wait. That’s why feeding supplies are a must; if you do stay out longer than expected, you can head off any hunger-inspired meltdowns.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to tuck a nursing cover into your bag when you’re taking baby to the store. Bottle feeding? Bring water and formula. If your child is older, you can toss in a kid-friendly drink and a bag of small snacks that you can feed by hand. Don’t forget a cloth to wipe up any messes that result.

3. Plan Trips Strategically

As a parent, you’re well-versed in your child’s schedule. When is your baby most relaxed and calm? It might be after a feeding, or just before nap time. Plan your trips for that period — when your little one starts out feeling calm, it’s easier to manage the process. Alternatively, you might try taking your baby to the store during nap time. That way, they’re more likely to sleep as you shop.

Of course, this method will vary based on your baby’s tendencies. Light sleepers might wake up and start crying the second you leave the house; in that case, try going to the store when baby is awake. It might take some trial and error, but by staying observant, you can pick the best time.

4. Choose the Right Outfit

When you’re taking baby to the store for the first time, it can be tempting to choose the most adorable outfit you have. While that might make other shoppers smile, a better option is to go simple. If you’ve ever tried wrestling a crying child out of an intricate outfit, you know that it’s not something you want to try in your car or a public bathroom.

Instead, choose clothing that makes your life easier. You can’t go wrong with a onesie with a snap-shut opening — if you have to do a quick diaper change, it will make the job much easier. When the weather’s cold, add a pair of leggings and an easy-zip snowsuit. The faster you can remove the clothing, the less stressful the diaper-change experience will be for both you and your baby.

5. Take Care of the Essentials Before You Walk Out the Door

You’re all packed, and you’re confident that your little one is in the best possible mood. Before you leave, it’s time to take care of the essentials. Do one last diaper change, and check your child’s clothes for cleanliness. If it’s getting close to meal time, prep a bottle or food for your child to eat in the car. That way, you can feel confident taking baby to the store.

6. Make a Shopping List

There is nothing more stressful than trying to remember your grocery list as your baby cries relentlessly. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to head off this situation — simply make a shopping list. While your baby is sleeping and you’re feeling refreshed enough to think clearly, write down everything you need to get. Want to take it a step further? Organize your shopping list based on the layout of the store. That way, you never need to backtrack, and you can get through the aisles in less time.

The tool you use to make the list depends. Do you tend to forget your phone? Write your items on a piece of paper and tuck it in your pocket. Otherwise, use the notes app or download a shopping list app to check off items as you go.

Keeping Baby Happy at the Store:

7. Choosing the Right Carrier

One of the biggest ways to take the hassle out of taking baby to the store is to choose the right carrier. Does your baby love the car seat? Great — pop it into the cart right out of the car, and you’re good to go. If your little one gets fussy, or if they’re a little emotional to start, consider using a sling or a front carrier. Your body heat will keep baby warm and comforted, and you’ll have both hands free to push a cart.

8. Get Creative with Distractions

As you’re taking baby to the store, don’t be surprised if your little one starts to cry or fuss. After all, all of the new stimuli can be stressful. First of all, take a few seconds to calm yourself. Other people understand that babies cry, so you don’t need to worry about the other shoppers. Then, reach for the toys in your diaper bag. A familiar object can have a calming effect on your baby; sometimes, the distraction is enough.

If that doesn’t work, don’t panic — you’re in a store, surrounded by thousands of potential distractions. Grab an item off the shelf to entertain your little one. Items that make noise, such as boxes of cereal, are great choices. They probably aren’t a long-term solution, but this strategy can calm the wailing long enough for you to get to the cash register.

Other items entertaining items when you’re taking baby to the store:

  • Jars of nuts or coffee
  • Crinkly plastic packages
  • Soft toys from the toy aisle
  • Brightly colored plastic cups
  • Music from your phone

9. Ask for Help Getting to the Car

If your baby is sitting in the car in a car seat, you can usually stack groceries around the base. Once they’re bagged, however, it’s harder to fit everything in. Don’t be a hero and try to carry everything when you’re taking baby to the store — instead, just ask for help carrying the bags to the car. Most stores are happy to send a bagger with you; others may even have curbside pickup services.

Going to a store that can’t spare staff? Keep your shopping to the bare minimum. Get only what you need and can carry; you can come back later for the rest. That way, you don’t feel like a burden, and you can return home with the essentials.

Conclusion

If you’re nervous about taking baby to the store, don’t worry — it’s completely natural. By taking your time to prepare, you can leave the house knowing that you are ready for every possibility. Plus, if you get into a sticky spot, there are almost always other parents around to ask for help. Before long, you’ll be visiting the store without a second thought.