7 Ways to Build Your Baby’s Brain at the Grocery Store

Certainly, one of any mother's least favorite errands to ever run with small children is the trip to the grocery store. If it's not timed right, the result is cranky, fussy, whiny children (and mom) and possibly the glaring stares of other shoppers. Changing the focus during a shopping trip can be the ticket to salvaging the task and mom's sanity. As a bonus, it can be a time to grow your baby's brain using elements of "Touch, Talk, Read and Play". Win-win! Below are 7 simple things to do with baby during the standard grocery run.

1. Work on Colors

The produce section alone is a virtual rainbow. Take apples for instance (red, yellow, green). Point out the colors and engage her in seeing the differences. Spending a little time here is also better for your health, which in turn nourishes the brain. Pick up a few extra fruits and veggies as well and move on with your shopping.

2. Compare Shapes

When you hit the snack aisle, stop in front of the crackers. Squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, and ovals abound here. Point out just one shape per visit at first, and then see if you can find other examples of that shape in the other sections of the store. Repetition is key for little brains. So, your first visit might just be all about circles!

3. Expand Her Vocabulary

Talk to your baby while you're searching for your items. Tell her what you are looking for, using descriptive adjectives and nouns; then be sure to show her what you find. Listening to you and seeing your words reinforced with examples will grow her receptive language skills. Before too long, you'll be amazed at the precocious things she will say!

4. Put Him to Work

Grab one of the store's sales circulars and give him a crayon. One way to use the circular is for him to circle one thing he wants from it (bonus- it'll be on sale!) and the two of you "search" for it. Another activity would be for you to circle a few things that are truly on your list and have him be on the lookout for them.

5. Play "I Spy"

Remember that circular? Use it to play "I Spy." You can use shapes, colors, letters, numbers, or even the names of actual items that he might already know. Circulars aren't just for stretching your budget; use them to stretch your little guy's brain!

6. Play "Beat the Clock"

While you are shopping, you can encourage your baby to count with you. See if you can find an item and put it in the cart before you both get to "5." When she has mastered counting to 10, try counting backwards. You can also use the ABCs or simple nursery songs in this game. The concept stays the same; you are trying to "beat the clock!"

7. Include Her in Choices

Letting her pick the type of soup you buy, or the cereal for breakfast, or even how many apples to put in the bag gives her ownership in addition to allowing her brain to think through options. She is learning how to make decisions. If too much freedom concerns you, then let her pick between two options of your choosing.

Next time you must run to the grocery store with your little one in tow, remember to use the time with your "captive audience" to engage him in some "Touch, Talk, Read and Play" strategies. You might be surprised at how this makes the task run a little smoother, and keeps his focus a little longer. You might even avoid the dreaded melt-down that always seems to occur when you are the least prepared for it. Happy Shopping!