At NurturePA, our volunteer mentors support moms during the first three years of her baby’s life — all through an innovative text messaging program.
Volunteer mentors use our custom developed software to share parenting information, make referrals to community resources, and, perhaps most importantly, build relationships during a critical time in the life of a mom and her baby.
Here’s a peek at an activity a volunteer mentor may share with a mom.
Activity: Making Choices at the Grocery Store
Taking your toddler to the grocery store can be very educational! There are so many things to see and new words to learn! You can also use the time at the store to get your toddler involved with what foods you choose to buy. Choice making is a good developmental skill for your toddler to learn. Once he understands that he gets to pick one of the two options, you can use this strategy in many other situations throughout his day. Giving your toddler a “say” in what you buy at the grocery store may help you to know which foods he is really interested in and how to increase the chances of him eating the food you give him during mealtimes.
How should this be done?
- Go to the food item choices that you are giving to your child so that he can see what he is choosing from! He will not be able to only hear the words to make his choice at this stage of his development – he needs to see them, too!
- Hold the items in front of him but far enough away from each other so that when he points to what he wants, it is clear which food he is choosing over the other. (For example: Hold an apple in one hand with your arm extended to the left and bananas in your right hand with that arm extended to the right. After he sees both food items, watch him to see which one he reaches for.)
- Always use the names of the food items when you are asking your toddler which food he would like to buy. (Do not just ask “what do you want buy?” but rather, “do you want to buy apples or bananas?” This will help him label the foods that he wants/eats!)
- Once he makes his choice, praise him for being such a good helper! (“Oh you want bananas! That is a great choice. Let’s put the bananas in our cart.”)
- Only give food options that you are comfortable with him eating and that you are able to buy. This keeps you somewhat in control of what is going into your shopping cart!
- Give him options that are in the same category. For example: apples and bananas are both fruits and both very good for your toddler to eat. Do not give your child the choice of apples or cookies. You do not want to give the idea that your toddler can choose a sugary snack over a healthy fruit! Once you are in the cookie or snack isle, you can give your toddler the option of two different snacks that you do not mind your toddler having as a treat – but again, then he will be making a decision in the same category and fruit will still be a selection that he has already made!
- Carrying some food with you from home in your bag may be helpful to give to your toddler if he becomes too tempted with what he sees in the store! However, try not to take him grocery shopping when he is really hungry. That could be a recipe for disaster!
- When you are leaving the store, praise your toddler for being Mommy/Daddy’s big helper!