Mom Confessions: I Let My Toddler Eat Food Before Paying For It


hushIt's time for a Mom Confession -- because, let's face it, we're real mothers and sometimes it doesn't work the way the parenting books say it should.

This Week's Confession:

I let my son eat or drink food from the grocery store before actually buying it. I see nothing wrong with it. It keeps him content and I plan to pay for it, so what's the big deal? I've gotten dirty looks for it several times and can't understand why. --anonymous

I do it all the time! We will even go get our son a new train or something like that, and if he's good, he can even open it and play with it while we shop. I'm going to pay for it anyway, so what difference does it make? --anonymous



Should toddlers eat or drink grocery store merchandise before mom pays at the checkout?

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Total Votes: 557

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What type of message, if any, does this practice send? Should grocery stores be considered restaurants? What does it teach our children about self-control and instant gratification?

We all have secrets -- so thanks to these brave moms for sharing their honest thoughts, and thank you for keeping this conversation non-judgemental!


Past Confessions:

I Scold Other People's Kids

I'm on Vacation, But My Kid Is Still Going to Day Care

I Favor My Older Child



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pinkc... pinkcalla721

I dont agree with doing this. I understand why some do it, but I just cant do this. I keep a snack in my dd's backpack at all times. i make sure I have her something to drink before we go anywhere or when I pick her up. If she gets hungry while shopping, thats kind of tough luck. Its happened to me and she got mad and cried loudly drawing everyones attention.  I really make sure we always have snacks and something to drink. It takes some planning, but its worth it. Personally I think it is a questionable behavior to allow your kid or yourself to do. People have to follow rules for a reason, its a perfect opportunity to show your kids what being patient for something involves. Paying for an item before you shop clearly shows the child expected behavior. I like that  much better.

laura... laura7485

I don't see the problem as long as it isn't something that needs weighed. other wise don't let your kid eat the upc code and all is well :D

toria... toriandgrace

I don't normally, I typically have gold fish or cheerios in my purse for her. However, I have issues with passing out if I'm too hungry. So on occasion I will open a bottle of water or granola bars, I always pay and I figure it's better than passing out on the floor.   : )

mylit... mylittleabby

I have never done that before since I usually have snacks in my diaper bag, but I don't see anything wrong with it if you are going to be buying it anyway.  I don't think I would let my daughter snack on something like fruit that needed to be weighed but a pack of crackers or something like that would be fine if I ran out of snacks or something.  I see other parents and even some people that don't have kids with them doing it all the time at Wal-Mart.  Luckily our grocery store gives a free cookie so I don't have to worry about it there.

indig... indigostone

I wish there had been an "other" option:

I wouldn't say all the time, but that is how I voted because I do feel it's ok...however I would never reward a child for misbehaving.

When my son was small I would open a box of crackers or granola bars for him to munch (if he got hungry).  The way I trained him to behave while shopping though was to go to the toy aisle first, let him choose a toy (that would be his reward for behaving) and he could hold onto it while I shopped.  If he started asking for things I would point to the toy and ask if he wanted to trade for the item he was now wanting.  If he misbehaved, I would give one warning before putting the toy on the nearest shelf and ending the shopping trip (I would still purchase what was in my cart).

He learned very quickly what I would (and would not) accept, and I gradually weaned him from getting something every time we shop.

Jazzdoll Jazzdoll

I also don't agree with doing this and never have; yes, it's illegal (even if store employees look the other way), but I also believe it's one of the reasons the need for "instant gratification" is such an issue in our society nowadays. I've always kept a small snack in my purse in the event I'm in a pinch, but to help myself to food and drink that hasn't been paid for (regardless of intent) sends the wrong message in my opinion. For the PP who compared it to trying on clothes, it's not; a more accurate analogy is to compare it to altering clothing that hasn't been paid for. I have always made it very clear to my child that food, toys, clothing, etc. - until it's paid for it's not ours.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with consuming a product prior to payment in my opinion. My three year old daughter loves probiotic juice boxes we call it bug-juice and whenever she patiently sits in the car-cart she is rewarded; although some would call it bribery. children need to be rewarded for disciplined behavior.

artis... artistapril

I don't see a problem with it. I do it with my daughter all the time. I always make sure I have cash on me before I do it tho. all i need is for the check card machine to be broken or something! The clerk at the counter always just smiles at my daughter when i hand her the empty wrapper or half empty wrapper of whatever my daughter was eating.

RanaA... RanaAurora

It's not illegal.  Popping open a drink for them or a box of goldfish isn't illegal, folks, as long as you still pay for it.

Now, food that you weigh, like if you give them a whole apple, is another story.  But a couple grapes?  No biggie.  If it REALLY bothers you, tell them to charge you an extra ten cents because your kid ate some.

I'd much rather someone open a chocolate milk for their kid then have them screaming the whole time.

ozark... ozarkgirl3

I see nothing wrong with doing that, especially for the kids. And even in restraunts, you eat first then pay afterwards. I see how some people might take advantage and not pay, but those kind of people will do that anywhere.

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