Whole Parenting Family

Errands with a Year Old Boy

Today was an errand day. J was a trooper in his Ergo in this heat. We don’t usually do errands together as I try to save those up for when my mom or sister can watch him. Both of them haven’t been around lately, so little man and I went out today. A few tips for errand running with a squirmy toddler:

1) Wear the child if possible.

If he or she is even remotely carriable, it is way easier to peruse the aisles, pack the groceries, or make the detailed selections on fabric with a child strapped to you, versus scooting or toddling away from you. We live in our Ergo Baby Carrier, but once our Rockin’ Wrap arrives (thank you, Larissa!) with its beautiful horse head design, J will have two places to live while attached to me. J found the aisles of CVS particularly amusing and tried to lunge for the hair samples attached to the bottles of hair color in the shampoo aisle. Luckily he was attached to me!

2) Bring water or a snack.

We brought homemade biscotti (whole wheat! (recipe to follow)) and a sippy cup with water. Naturally J only wanted the water once I took the cap off as he likes to drink out of “big boy cups” instead of his cup, but he did get a little hydration which was key in this heat. The biscotti was a great hit in the car when he realized he couldn’t rip apart the envelope he had snagged from my hand before buckling up (ergo: ensuing tantrum).

3) Take advantage of offers to carry things out to your car.

The Coop is such an easy store to navigate and the staff is always helpful when you’re wearing a child and have two big bags for your groceries. And the plums and peaches that are on sale right now are J’s favorite. We just skin them and he devours them in minutes. Grateful to have such delicious food so close and so local.


4) If child is screaming, be prepared to purchase something extra.

We were in Creative Kidstuff buying a birthday gift for one of J’s buddies and he was pretty hysterical. I offered him toys from his own diaper bag but those were of little interest. He pointed to a toy and said “baaall.” Indeed it was a ball! The Original O-ball. We bought it. He then proceeded to hold it for the next 45 minutes of walking errands, and didn’t even drop it while crossing the busy intersection. I wasn’t planning on an extra purchase, but if something can hold your child off from the brink of despair (and it’s not sugar), then I say go for it.


5) Lots of love and floor time when home.

Although we were up against nap time, instead of immediately doing a diaper change and charging into nap routine, we just played on the floor for a while with our new ball, talked about what we had seen out and about, and settled back into home. He went down like a shot for nap time and hopefully will associate his busy out-in-the-world day with fun!


  1. ejones217 on July 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    What a good mama! And I totally second wearing your child- out and about or even at home. C is most content next to his mama, and I still get the use of both hands.

    So you like your Ergo? I am thinking of making the switch from the Bjorn, which I’ve been reading can strain baby’s back (especially as they become heavier) because all their weight is centered on their crotch rather than on their tail bone (as in an Ergo). Plus the sunshade is a must in this sunshine-y desert-y clime. And, rumor has it there’s even a little pocket on the Ergo for a wallet and phone. Huzzah for no pocketbook to look after!

    • Novice Natural Mama on July 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      Yes, the Ergo rocks. We bypassed the Bjorn because of the apparent weight stress on the crotch-oo-la. And having a boy, that just seems terrible unfair! The little sunshade is great for when they’re small, but is form-fitting now that he’s older. That’s okay though because he just wears a hat. And YES the pocket is great for pacifiers, small wallets (or just your cc and id) and definitely phone. And it snaps shut. Love that feature. But babies don’t face outward in the Ergo, so that’s where we turn to an actual wrap, wrap so that J can see the world.

      Ergo is for about 4 months+ (the infant insert would probably not be great in the desert heat) so we used the Moby until then. Have to say though, as one girlfriend’s husband says “it’s origami.” Hoping that when our new wrap from my girlfriend Larissa arrives (Rockin’ Wraps) that it will be easier to wrap around oneself for J’s outward visits.

  2. Nicole Jenks May on July 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I was just out today listening to what happens with some moms with the older kids (more of a challenge). Great tips for the littlest shopper! To pass on some tips for when they can walk and are too big for the cart, I’d add the following:

    1) Ensure you go over the expectations BEFORE entering the store. Explain what you’re there to do, and review behavior expectations. When you leave, review. What went well? (Mommy was really happy that you waited patiently in the checkout line…that’s hard to do, isn’t it?)

    2) Do not be afraid to leave (or act like you will). Turn around and leave the cart behind. Suddenly, your crazy pre-schooler will remember that if you leave, he gets nothing. If this fails after the “bluff” actually leave. You will have to shop latter. Lesson learned, they don’t try it again.

    3) Shopping is a teachable moment. If you think you can shop with your mom or your girlfriends and ignore your little one, prepare for naughty behavior. If you talk with your little one the whole time and involve him or her in the process, you will be on top of troubles before they start (We can’t afford that today. Can you put it back? (No) Okay, before we came in, we talked about getting JUST the things on the list. Is that on our list?). This is a good way to prevent crazy behavior since you see it coming and can plan how to calmly respond.

    4) Know when it’s time to leave (or better to stay home). I know you forgot the milk. You don’t live in Siberia. You (or someone else) can get it later. Do not try to go across the store again!

    5) Do NOT avoid shopping. If you do this, they won’t know shopping manners for when you HAVE to take them out. Better to do lots of short trips when you can do it (even stopping at a convenience store is a lesson).

    Bonus: One hand on the cart at all times! (I’ve loosened up on this one as he’s gotten more trustworthy, but parents of multiple kids swear by this rule!)

    Hope some of this helps!

    • Novice Natural Mama on July 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Wow! Yes, this is awesome Nicole!! Everyone take a long look at this one. She’s a mama who knows what is going on with the older kiddos. My fav line “Do not try to go across the store again.” This blog provides so much opportunity for me to learn, and today I now know what shopping in the future will entail.

  3. Shena on July 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Great tips, ladies! Having snacks and hydration is so very wise. I’ve found it’s really almost the key. And babywearing is a must for the little ones who can’t be distracted and just want Mama; otherwise you’ll be spending half your time soothing baby in some dusty store corner.

    Nicole – SUCH a great idea to give out clear expectations before arrival (it also helps make any punishment more fair; see my #4 below), and review afterward so that they can feel encouraged for being good too.

    Here are a few of my own:

    1) Go right after a nap, and get back before the next one is due.

    2) Distract, distract, distract. When you’re out and about, there are lots of new things you can point out to keep them happy and defuse tantrum-building frustrations.

    You can even apply it to toys when you can’t help avoiding them. “Who can find a blue toy?” etc. so that their focus is on something other than playing with or taking the toy. Then switch to “who can find X?” as you’re leaving the toys so that they forget all the cheap plastic crap – I mean, toys.

    3) I’m going to be difficult and qualify NM’s advice about purchases: don’t ever buy anything for a kid old enough to remember the correlation between his bad behavior and your purchase. They will remember, and they will expect it every future time, and will be sure to build up plenty of currency (i.e., bad behavior) to purchase future wanted items.

    Of course, the most dangerous section is the candy/junk food in the check out line. It’s where everyone is most tired and you’re most stuck, so the temptation can be great to pick up a pack of M&Ms and put everyone out of their misery. Unless you’re planning to feed your kids M&Ms in the checkout line on every future grocery visit, don’t do it!

    4) To add to Nicole’s 2nd tip – if you can’t leave the store permanently (you just arrived, and your fridge is bare), be ready to dole out a punishment in the store.

    I recently brought both of my kids out of the grocery store and put them in time out on the curb next to the front door. We live in a small town, and who knows how many people walked by to see my children’s shame (as my husband said, “it was like an public hanging in a medieval square”). But boy did it do the trick. Apologies and kisses were doled out to Mama, and back inside the little penitents and I went to finish our shopping.

    ps Don’t forget the recipe for ww biscotti!

    • Nicole Jenks May on July 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      I did the time-out at my kid’s pre-school on the way out when he persisted in opening doors for himself which breaks the school rule. Talk about mortifying! He just wanted to leave, but he had been warned. I’m all for public time-outs, too!

      • Novice Natural Mama on July 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

        My mother never feared disciplining us in public–usually it just took the evil eye and maybe a tweak on the upper arm (my triceps are still bruised from those days, I’m sure). A little humiliation and establishment of alpha-femaling is good.

    • Novice Natural Mama on July 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      I totally agree with everything you say! Such great mama insights. Especially the non-reinforcing bad behavior with treats/toys. I should have been more clear in my original post: this was more like an “I’m scared and upset and still a baby” thing (and I need a new ball!), but NO to encouraging accumulation of unnecessary plastics (sigh. yucko) in correlation with acting badly in public! You are tooootally correct in my opinion.

      I love the medieval square analogy. That is simply outstanding!

  4. Shena on July 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Nice, Nicole!

    I was just thinking – none of my advice applies to infants (before the age when they can understand your directives).

    First time mamas often feel really badly about having their newborn scream in stores, but later you realize nobody really cares, and you just get done what you need to get done. Don’t waste time feeling embarrassed for what is truly just a reflection of your child’s stage in life! Don’t stay home because you feel badly about the public screaming – you’ll go crazy being cooped up, and it’s pointless when no one else really minds a little crying babe (a tantrum throwing toddler is another matter, but you can do something about those).

    • Novice Natural Mama on July 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      J is just at the precipice of ability to be disciplined (a little). He understands No, Please Sit Down on Your Bottom (kiddie pool and bath tub), and the idea that throwing himself backwards on a granite floor is painful and therefore tantruming in the kitchen is pointless.

      When does discipline actually sink in/work/be worthwhile?

      • Nicole Jenks May on July 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

        Hard to say BUT you will suddenly notice him “testing” cause and effect. If I do x, will mom say something? Hmm…let me try it in five minutes. Let’s see what happens if I do it when dad’s around. That’s a good sign, it’s time to put in the foundation with consistency…he’s probably already started your test. Right now, you’re doing what you do: scheduling and planning. When kids know what to expect, they don’t act up as much (first we have lunch, then we watch Sesame Street together, then it’s nap time, for example). I think I probably started modified time outs at 2 (modified because I don’t know if I could keep my little guy in it until closer to 2.5 years, and even then…I’d stand near him and not look at him until at least a minute by the TV clock). Now that he’s four and “gets it” he has a timer and I move away. I’ve added a “count” for warnings (he knows counting backward and forward). I ask him once. The next time I ask, I start counting. I started with ten, then shortened to 3. Now he does not want me to get to three! Four minutes is a long time in time-out. But I was blessed with a generally good guy…he’s only naughty when he specifically wants my attention or is overtired, and those are more of a “parent management” issue than a behavior one. Let’s hope you have the same luck!

        • Novice Natural Mama on July 25, 2011 at 10:31 pm

          Excellent advice!! Thank you so very much for sharing your motherly wisdom.

  5. Shena on July 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I agree with Nicole – it’s more about your child’s stage (and that does make it tricky). First, they have to be able to understand cause and effect. Second, they have to learn the meaning of “no” (which means, you have to literally show them by removing the object). Only then can they be truly “guilty” and in need of punishment.

    As to how long it takes for discipline to sink in…Final Judgment? It never really works, I suspect, but hopefully it stems the tide of our naughty ways!

    I’d love to hear someone’s advice on how it’s effective to appeal to a kid’s conscience rather than fear of punishment (i.e., “don’t you want to treat your sister kindly?” rather than “if you hit your sister one more time you’re in the closet for the next 30 minutes”

    • Novice Natural Mama on July 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      This is fabulous! We need to do a post on just discipline and have you two ladies be the guest writers. Conscience appeals: no clue as of yet, but I remember feeling very guilty as a child for making Baby Jesus feel badly when I was mean to my little brother. Catholic guilt at a young age = better behaved children at mass?

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