Driving the car

What toddlers like in a shopping centre

Toddlers and a shopping centre. You’d think they’d not mix, and it could be a boring trip. But it doesn’t need to be for a toddler.

When N was younger, I was hoping that we’d have taken a trip to Oxford for some shopping and a mooch, but as the weather was rubbish, and pushing a buggy with a child who wanted to be walking round in and out of shops, I decided we’d go to Milton Keynes instead.  Ok not as lovely to shop in, but lots of indoor undercover space for N to be let loose in (and easily accessible baby changing facilities).

I was astounded at how far N can walk now.  He’s 15 months old, but he managed to walk most of the way round the main shopping centre.  Ok, so it took us about 2 hours longer than it would usually take me to zoom round (I’m quite an efficient shopper when I’m on my own), but it was great to see him exploring and checking out everything unusual that caught his interest.

His top finds which probably wouldn’t seem that strange to adults included:

  • Huge oversize mobility vehicle parked outside Poundland.  Mmm, well I suppose I’ll allow him that, as it’s not something he’d ever have come across before.  I was a tad concerned that he’d find a button and start it up somehow, as he does like to press buttons on machines.
  • Plants.  Of course plants inside are a bit on the odd side, but he loved looking at the different palm like leaves when he could get close enough.
  • Metal ‘bench/seats’.  He would walk along until he got to the next set and tap with his hand along them.  Presumably he liked the coldness and the sound.  All was fine until he walked along two and right up to a couple of older women sitting talking.  Thankfully I grabbed him just before he started patting the nearest lady’s leg!
  • Glass fronted shop windows.  Most were fine especially when there were interesting window displays, but he did bash his forehead on a empty shop front.  Oops.

It was great to have somewhere that we could let him wander round without getting wet. He didn’t g in people’s way (generally, but it was emptier than it can often be at MK). Plus the baby changing in the centre is great for kids (and parents).  Shame I forgot my vouchers I needed to use (and the main reason for going shopping), and I didn’t really find much inspiring in terms of things to buy.

Driving the car

The only thing I now have to worry about is that he now knows what the children’s ride on pay things are (see picture), as I made the mistake of letting him investigate and then sat him in a car.  Even though he didn’t get to experience the actual movement of it, he then wanted to go and check out every one we saw.  Oops, mistake by mummy!

My tips for keeping a toddler going when shopping

1, Snacks – for when they get bored. Just make sure you wipe their hands before letting them touch material and items on sale.

2. Always taking a buggy if it’s a long trip. Even if it’s not, they’re helpful for putting shopping in.

3. Point things out to them. You might think you look silly talking to toddlers about inane things, but it’s great for their development and noone will actually notice. If they do, they’ll probably smile as they’ll remember doing the same.

4. Allow plenty of time. If toddlers prefer to walk, it will take forever.

5. Teach them when they have to go in the pushchair, or the behaviour you expect like not running away or listening to you.

In what could be a boring day out, there’s always something for toddlers to find interesting in a shopping centre.

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