Shopping with a Baby. Easy, right?

Today I went grocery shopping after I dropped the kids off at school. I was leisurely perusing the aisles when I heard that sound. That sound a wailing newborn makes when it cries, and it made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I remember that sound – that unmistakable cry. And it reminded me of the first time I took my older son grocery shopping when he was a newborn and the feelings came flooding back like some kind of warped post-traumatic stress syndrome.

My son was about six weeks old.

All the visitors had long gone, my husband was back at work and we were running low on our frozen food stash, so I felt it was time to go grocery shopping. After all, we were in the swing of things by now and had the makings of an okay routine. It was time I got back out there in the real world and got us some food, dammit!

So just after lunch I put on my clean yoga pants and t-shirt and made myself a list. “Look at me go! I was already killin’ it!”

I decided that I would nurse my son just before we left so he had a full tummy and the trip would fall right around his nap so he’d probably sleep through the whole thing. “Damn, I’ve got this mom shit down. Look at me plan!”

I got my reusable grocery bags because God knows I need to save the planet after all those desperate drives around the block to get him to sleep – I’m sure there’s a polar bear sitting on an ice cube saying, “Gee, thanks, Lady”. I pack the baby carrier, a diaper bag with clothes, diapers, etc. (just in case) and my list. My son is fed with a dry bum.

We are ready to roll!

It’s mid-March so it’s still cold here in Toronto. There’s snow on the ground but it’s a beautiful sunny day so I walk down the street to where our car is parked – today was meant to be! I snap him in the car seat and we’re off.

The baby falls asleep on the way and I feel a smug smile wash across my face. “Mwahaha! Just as I planned. Why was I so worried about this? This is easy!” I take one of those parking spaces for expectant & new mothers – as I’m quite certain I qualify – and I get out of the car.

Hmmm. Okay, now I have a decision. Do I leave him in his car seat and put him in a cart, or take him out and put him in the carrier? The cart return is really far from the parking spot. Damn. Okay, well that doesn’t really sound safe anyway. Carrier it is!

I decide to take off my winter coat and strap the carrier on then put my winter coat back on so I can cover up the baby, as it’s still pretty cold out. He’s sound asleep in his car seat so I gently lift him out trying not to wake him. No luck. He instantly gives me one of those “What the fuck?!” looks when you wake someone out of a dead sleep and starts fussing. Okay, okay. This isn’t a problem. He’s tired and loves the carrier so he’ll just fall back asleep. In he goes and I wrap my winter coat around him as tightly while making sure his hat is on okay and we set off for the store. I grab a cart at the door, dig through my purse to find the list and head for the produce. We’re in!

The baby is checking out all the sounds and lights and seems generally content with the new environment. Great! I get some bananas. Some bread. We get to somewhere around the canned soup aisle and my son decides, “Yeah, that’s enough” and starts fussing. I instantly do the mom-bounce-and-walk saying “shhhh, shhh Mommy’s almost done” and he calms down a bit.

A little old lady comes up to me and says, “Aw, how old is your baby?” “He’s six weeks.” I proudly say getting a little hot from the bounce-and-walk. “Is he a good baby?” she says gently taking his hand as I wince slightly at the thought of her touching him with the hands she’s been using to touch a dirty shopping cart, pick her nose, draining the anal glands of a dog…I don’t know, but I’m scanning her like the Terminator thinking of all the things she could be contaminated with. Old people get shingles! I bet she’s giving him shingles!!! She says something else which snaps me out of my scan, “These are the best days of your life. Cherish every moment” I assure that I will and move on to release my baby from this cyborg’s death grip without saying “Are you Sarah Connor?!”

We lost a little time but you mustn’t be rude to old people (no matter what you accuse them of in your head) so I pick up the pace to get everything I need. This is when my son decides it’s time to leave and starts that cry. That “I’ve had it” cry and the bounce-and-walk just ain’t cutting it. Okay, okay, let’s go. I abort the plan to get milk because it’s way at the other end and I know I won’t make it so I grab a few more random things off the shelf and head for the cash.

Bounce-and-walk! Bounce-and-walk!

I get to the front and there is ONE cashier and a line-up from here to Spain. My son’s cries are starting to ramp up from “Let’s go” to “Bitch, are you deaf?” and can be heard echoing throughout the store.

Stay cool. Stay cool. Don’t show you’re flustered. You can handle this. Freaking out isn’t going to help the problem, plus, this is grocery shopping. Who the hell can’t grocery shop?

The man ahead of me turns around and says, “Aw, she must be hungry”. I don’t what about this wailing banshee in a blue sleeper said “girl” to this guy, but I didn’t want to go into a long explanation and simply said in the most chipper voice I could muster, “He’s just tired.”

Another lady in line tells me that the baby “is just precious” and how much she misses her kids at that age then decides to fish around for the exact change in her purse – “Did you say 67¢? Oh, I think I have that.” Really, Lady? C’mon.

It’s finally my turn. I start tossing stuff onto the belt. Bananas, bread, a bag of black beans (that are still in my cupboard – my son is seven now), some tuna packed in oil (crap, I grabbed the wrong one), a pound of hamburger, some fruit roll ups (WTF?) and a box of macaroni and cheese. Great, now not only do I look like I’m starving my screaming child, I look like I’m doing it in a dorm room with first year freshmen.

Thankfully the cashier sees the urgency of the situation and rings everything through quickly. She says something but I miss it over the screaming. “Bags?!” she says again. Shit, I forgot the bags in the car. “No, plastic is fine.” Sorry polar bears.

I pay, grab my cart and start running as calmly and competently as I can. I’m sweating profusely from my heavy coat, my running, and the heat my screaming son is generating, but I don’t care as my face hits the freedom and chill of the outside March air. Okay! The worst is over. We’re out of the store.

I get to the car and my son has actually calmed down a bit. Maybe he was hot and needed the fresh air. Maybe he was side tracked by the change of environment. Maybe he was done with his public humiliation of me to knock me off my smug pedestal in front of an elderly audience. I don’t know but I was just grateful for the break.

I decide to put him in his seat because I’m hot and he’s hot and the change seemed to calm him down even more. Whew. I put the groceries in the car and then realize I still have the cart. Crap. The stupid cart corral is half a football field away and the store is just as far. I don’t want to be one of those douches that leave the cart in the middle of the parking lot, no sir, I swore I would never do anything like that once I had kids. I must return it!

I don’t want to take him out again. That’s not an option. If I leave him in the car he’s safe and warm but what if I get run over and no one knows I have a baby and he’s left locked in the car?!? What if someone tries to steal him while I’m putting the cart back, like that old witch with shingles?!?!? Finally, I decide to leave the back hatch open to make it apparent that the vehicle’s occupant is coming back, plus, if anything happened to me, it would be open for people to hear my son’s cries. Then I proceed to lock the car so no one can steal him from the side doors, and wear the baby carrier so the paramedics would notice it strapped to my lifeless body in the event of a hit and run and go looking for a missing infant. Perfect plan!

I run to return the cart and run back. Wasn’t hit and killed. Yes! Success! My baby is safe.

Drive back home and my son actually falls asleep again. Good.

Park the car down the street because there was nothing closer. Hmm, okay same problem. Do I leave the baby in the car or take him first?

Take him first, I decide.

I’ll leave him on the covered porch out of the way and grab the groceries. I carefully unclick his car seat so as not to disturb him and place him on the porch.

I run back to get the groceries and start carrying them back. I’m hot, sweaty, tired and on the verge of tears but I did it. I did it, dammit!

My next-door neighbor is out sweeping her walkway when she sees me coming down the street. In her thick Portuguese accent she asks, “Where’s the baby?” I tell her that I put him on the porch while I got the groceries ­(pleased with myself that, despite the tricky outing, I still had the wherewithal to get the baby out of the car before the fruit roll ups.)

“Aren’t you afraid of BEES?!” she says.

“Bees?” I reply.

“Yes, the bees could get your baby! You just leave him in the open like that!”

I assure her that he’s fine but quicken my pace, “Jesus, why hadn’t I considered bees?!” All this shit about worrying about the carrier vs. car seat and I didn’t even think of what could get him on our front porch. I saw a documentary on Africanized bees killing Chihuahuas and here I left my baby out on the porch like some tender, perfect offering – tethered in a car seat no less! How the hell is this child going to survive with me as a mother?! I can’t even gather food and ward off bees!! Why aren’t there signs up about this? I knew I shouldn’t have gone out. This is what you get for being greedy and hungry and killing polar bears, a bee-attacked baby that probably has shingles!!

I sprint up the front steps to find him sleeping peacefully without an insect in sight.

I open the front door. Put the car seat in the bee-free living room, the hamburger in the fridge and collapse on the couch. When my husband comes home he climbs over the abandoned bags in the front hall and says, “Hey, you went grocery shopping. How did it go?”

“Bees. I didn’t consider the bees, Andrew, and I nearly killed our son. If you’re hungry, there’s a can a tuna and a box of fruit roll ups on the floor but you’d better enjoy it because I’m never, ever, going shopping again.”

Emily Alamode tweeted this to me and I nearly died. 
Emily Alamode tweeted this to me and I nearly died.


For the record, you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles (if you have not had chickenpox before) but you cannot catch shingles from them – so don’t yell at old ladies in the supermarket that ask about your baby ; )

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  • One of my favorite articles! Shopping with a newborn as a first-time mom just sucks the life out of you! Now with an eight-month-old, I know that it gets a little easier and not to freak out over the setbacks. Just let it all roll off your backs, Mamas! Nothing is permanent!

  • Omg, this is hilarious! I was literally laughing out loud, trying to not wake my sleep deprived husband. We have a 4 month hold and this totally rings true. No one can understand how stressful one innocent outing can be. Thank you for the laugh. The whole thing was so funny, and then the bees part, I was dying.

  • I just had a really stressful day today – I brought my 12 week old daughter to a baby massage class which meant getting 2 buses each way…turns out she doesn’t like being massaged. Anyway, this post has me crying with laughter and relief that I’m not the only one who feels like this!

  • I literally just walked in the door from going out with my 6 week old for the first time alone to a doctors appt where he had a level 5 meltdown the entire time and read this article and cried laughing. I forgot to bring his pacifier! It was awful. Thank you so much haha. This made the stress go down for sure.

  • My first solo outing with baby #2 was the awful one. My girls are 3 yrs apart so I attempted to grocery shop with the infant and 3 yr old who insisted on walking next to the cart. She tripped over her own two feet and fell face first into the aisle busting her chin open. We had to go to the ER and get stitches! I didn’t go without back up again for YEARS!

  • As a new mom of an 8 week old, this post made me feel so much better! The first and only time I’ve taken my baby grocery shopping went something a little easier than your experience, but I was covered in sweat, scared shirtless and almost ran an employee in a motorized scooter over with my cart. Glad to know others also grocery shop in fear with children !

  • I loved this story, but it brought on a fit of ridiculousness on my part. I read, watched Oprah and the animation, and it just kept getting funnier until I was crying with laughter and tears were rolling down my face. Then … I actually started really crying for no other reason I can think of than the fact that I’d started and I’m full of extra hormones.

    I tried going into the bathroom to wait for it to stop, but it didn’t. I came out, still bawling, scaring the bejesus out of my husband until I could choke out, in response to him asking what on earth was going on, "I’m fine! It was a (sob) gif! … (sob) Bees!! … It was really funny and now I’m (sniff) … sad?" Keeping my fingers crossed that the next trimester has fewer crazytown episodes to go along with it 😉

  • If you’re nursing then your baby is getting your antibodies and has a healthy immune system, so no need to worry so much about people touching him.

  • omg so funny! this was exactly my experience too taking my son out for the first time … and a few times since then as well. he had colic and trouble sleeping and would often only sleep in the stroller (after doing some crying), so i heard that "he must be hungry!" comment all the time and it drove me nuts! why do strangers first always assume that and second think you’ll benefit somehow from them telling you?

  • so I ride the bus. I’m 35 and I’ve never gotten my license, We have a pretty ok transit system here, but I really have to plan every aspect of my trip down to balancing the weight in my canvas bags. I have a 13 year old minion, but she’s usually in school at prime grocery shopping time. And I can’t seem to ever align my schedule with my husband’s to make it easy in the van [once a month this might happen] ooookaaaay… so I think I can handle a bus trip with the 2 week old baby to the grocery store on my own.

    "oh, is this your first?"
    "how precious"
    "oh look" [at the profusely sweating crazy woman with with the bags so big under her eyes they could carry a gallon of milk each]

    But yep, just like you said, it started off right nice. That smug, peaceful smile creeping over my face… and then non stop grocery store shrieks, fumbling my boob out to keep him happy, then he’s the loudest nurser ever [like I was walking around with a piglet or baby raccoon in the sling] and super squirmy.

    then, then the bus trip home with the 3 bags of grocery I thought I could handle.

    At least on the bus I could leave my bags on the floor and stand and rock bounce the baby… only to make everyone around me enormously uncomfortable [and very polite- "do you want my seat??"] No thanks there are plenty, I just need to be moving for this baby to be happy.

    I shoulda remembered 13 years prior on my first major outing… where every perceived threat was preceded by my milk ejection reflex. Motherhood: a hot mess.

  • Omg! Just found your blog and have been reading it to my husband. You are hilarious! So glad I found this. Needed to belly laugh. Can’t wait to read more. Thanks!

    • ME TOO! He laughed along with me, but then said, "I can see you panicking like that." I’d be offended, except I thought it to myself first: I’m totally going to be that way.

      Right down to the bees. And the polar bears.

  • I’m 33 weeks, and I gotta say, this is the kind of thing that flat-out terrifies me.

    Going to go cry in the office bathroom for the second time today now.

  • I haven’t really had such issues while shopping, but I’ve had such issues doing everything else in the entire world, so I can relate oh so well.

    I think I love you.

    And that bee gif? Holy crap that is hilarious.

  • So funny and so true!!!! Really, all the new/expectant parent parking at the front and the carts are always So far away! I now have learned to park beside the cart corral and just pop the car seat in the cart. Also self checkouts are the best. Shorter lineups and less cheap for my three year old to get into.

  • Rarely do I read posts and find myself laughing OUT LOUD like a crazy person. This was awesome. And with our first baby due any day now, I’m gonna tuck this story in my pocket for times just like that. Thank you:)

  • WELP. Thank you for the forewarning. I’ll be careful not to take my future newborn shopping. I’ve worked retail for over a year and I’ve seen TONS of babies. Despite that, my stupid ass would probably still try to go shopping with a baby. Just. Thank you so much for the reminder.

  • Oh goodness this is fantastic. I was laughing the whole way through (sorry for laughing at your pain?). Also, honestly, how many bees are there in March!? Crazy neighbor.

  • I really appreciate how well you’ve recalled and captured the sentiments of new moms at grocery stores. That sounds terrible AND I know it because I’ve totally been there too!

  • I was so lucky shopping with my son. We went at week three and he slept the whole time! In the zillion times we have gone since then (he’s 11 weeks) he has only freaked out once

  • Ahhh! The mom in the pic doesn’t have her baby in the seatbelt….from a mom whose baby did a flip from a basket onto a concrete floor, never forget to buckle up!

  • Luckily we lived walking distance to a Trader Joe’s when my daughter was a newborn so I always took her in the carrier and it worked well. I got shingles when she was 3 months old and didn’t realize it for almost a week after the first part of the rash broke out! I was so glad she didn’t get chicken pox, apparently it isn’t that easy to pass on.

  • OMG! This describes my first grocery shopping trip with my daughter to the tee! The baby or cart issue, the old lady, the lineup, all but the neighbour. Also, bees in Toronto in March? … Yeah, at 6 weeks I’d have fallen for that too 😛

  • Hahaha! I totally get this! I just had my second son 4 months ago, and the first shopping trip out with my mother, my toddler and my infant was soooo stressful. My oldest son, who always got to walk with me when shopping, never really road in the cart and was pulling everything off the selves and running down the aisles with a wild caged animal that escaped. My mother looked at me and said as calmly as she could muster, "you are going to have to teach your son how to shop riding in the cart." Needless to say, I was horrified and monstrously tired by the end of that trip. Then the next shopping trip for groceries I was all alone with my two sons and it took me 4 hours to get everything I needed, shopping between taking my toddler to the bathroom and feeding my infant son every hour. It has gotten easier, thankfully. =)

  • omg. thank you for this (and for the rest of your blog that got me through my much hated pregnancy). mine is 7 months now. our version is pushing her and the stroller through the store, and buying only what can fit under the stroller / in the mesh part of the stroller / or around her little baby self. most of the time she gets fussy, so i end up carrying her with one arm and pushing a stroller full of groceries through the store. soooo glad she’s able to sit up now.

  • As a momma to a 4 week old, this is SO perfect. From the crazy strategies you try to come up with, to looking in the grocery bags after you get home going "what the heck was I thinking?" Yes, to all of it, yes.

  • I love this. So, so much. Baby number two is on the way, and I’m already dreading the first trip with a toddler and a newborn.

  • I’m cryghing! My first solo grocery trip was a disaster too. He fell asleep on the way so I left him in his car seat, and he slept until I was almost. I smugly thought it was going great. Then he starting fussing in the looooonnnngggg checkout line. By the time it was my turn he was full on wailing. The checker was training and it took forever, and everything went wrong and took extra time. Then the bagger asked, "don’t you have a pacifier?" We finally got out of there and be wailed all the way home. That was 2 months ago and we haven’t attempted it again since!

  • i have to say this is just perfect, i’ve had 4 kids in the last 10 years and the first time out with my oldest was the worst time i’ve ever had in my entire life.

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