Bring toddlers’ toy shopping carts on actual shopping excursions

Ah, Target with a toddler. Those were the days. If only I had had Jennifer’s ingenuity back when my kids were that age:

In order to keep my 2 1/2 yr old and 4 yr old occupied at the grocery store or at Target/Walmart, I will bring along their toy shopping carts, so that they can "shop" with me.  I let them carry a few items and then have them put the items on the checkout counter.  They love it!

Related: Let your kid "drive" the shopping cart


  1. Carrie says

    Our grocery store actually keeps about 10 little metal carts that look just like the big carts. My 4you LOVES going to the grocery store. We go in off-peak hours (about 6AM on Saturdays), so I don’t have to worry about her if her driving is a bit reckless.

  2. says

    Wow, last night we went to our local natural grocery store and they had those little shopping carts. My three year old did all the pulling off the shelf (we were only buying three things) and putting in the cart. I held the baby. It was the best time we’ve had in the store in a LONG time. He was incredibly proud. I NEVER would have thought of bringing our cart from home. Brilliant!

  3. says

    My kids love the little shopping carts too. A related idea that takes up slightly less trunk space– bring along one of those doll umbrella strollers (or even a regular size one if your kid’s tal enough to handle it). It has the same effect of giving kids something to do and, if they’re pretending to be a parent, hopefully they’ll behave reasonably well in the store.

  4. indigobabs says

    We have taken the “toy” shopping cart to the farmer’s market. It is fun for the kids to push the cart and less for the parents to carry!

  5. says

    I can see this turning around and biting me if my 2yo doesn’t feel like pushing his little cart anymore. I’ll be pushing my real cart with my right hand, and his cart with the left hand (3 ft lower). Not a a pretty picture.

  6. Jill says

    The times I’ve brought our plastic cart from her, my daughter has enjoyed it, but every other person who passed by us in the store would stop and make a comment about it. Although almost all were delightful comments, it slowed us done and got annoying after a while…

  7. Chaya says

    I do this to make it possible to shop with my 3, if the baby is asleep in her car seat (otherwise she can go in the baby bjorn).The car seat doesn’t fit in the front of the cart, so my two year old goes in front, the baby in her carseat in the wagon, and then the groceries go around the baby and in the mini-cart that my 5 yr old (as of tomorrow!) pushes. The 2yr old is a bolter, so he must be IN the cart. It takes longer, and gets us a little too much attention, but it’s the only way I can do it with all 3!

  8. says

    We love shopping at Trader Joe’s with our toddler. They provide just the right sized cart and he loves helping out.

    I only wish they had some sort of flag or pole (for any Trader Joe’s executives that I know read this blog) that extended up from the cart at an adult height. That would give me an easier to use way of steering the enthusiastically pushed cart away from the ankles, shins, and calves of our fellow unsuspecting shoppers. As it is, my back gets a bit of a workout when I have to bend over to gently steer him out of one potential accident after another.

    We have found that he can (and loves) pushing an adult sized cart as well. When it gets full we can help as well. So this works in stores that don’t have kid sized carts. The only draw back is that he can’t see ahead of him at all (but it is easier to steer him out of trouble).

    Has anyone found a toy cart that folds down into a more compact form?