Taking children to the market can be extremely challenging. So, I totally understand, and even appreciate to some degree, when I see a preschooler sitting in the shopping cart, eyes glued to a phone screen.
But did you know that with the one exception of video chat, The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 18 to 24 months? If you want to introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it's high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming. As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work as well. You'll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what types of media are appropriate.
In addition to too much screen time not being good for your child, just look around the market and see all that they can learn and experience at the grocery store.
First and foremost—NEVER TAKE THE TIKE TO THE STORE DURING WHAT I REFER TO AS THE WITCHING HOURS!! That’s the time period when the little one is fussy and you’re in a rush to do your errands. It’s better to ask your partner, relative or BFF to babysit. Allow yourself some time to have fun with your little one and enjoy the shopping experience together.
If you have a preschooler, try giving them a picture list of the things you need. Have your child look for the items as you walk through the aisles. You can even give them a crayon, so they can cross it off their list just like Mommy does.
It is never too early to start teaching your little one about colors and shapes. You can describe or ask about an apple or a cucumber. So, whether you’re shopping with a 3-month-old or 3-year-old, chat away as you cruise the fruits and vegetable section.
As parents, we also know that the market looks like one gigantic candy land to our child, full of a zillion yummy treats. My son just experienced this for the first time with his 9-month-old son. As soon as Daddy picked up the squishy tube to put in the cart, his little one got very excited and wanted it right then and there.
Here are a couple of ways to meet this challenge:
Try giving them something good to munch on while you are shopping, save the container and pay for it at check out.
Another suggestion is to let them pick one small treat to take for home after you’re all done. Most of the time, I would let them pick two things I could live with and offer them a choice. But, depending on their age and what their snack intake has been during the day, I have to admit I might say “yes” to a not-so-healthy treat.
Share with us how you meet the challenge of Tomatoes vs Screens and the “I want this!” scenario when at the market. You just might just solve a major problem in someone’s day to day life.