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

by Cynthia Dermody on January 9, 2009 at 7:43 AM

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


Question: Should toddlers eat or drink grocery store merchandise before mom pays at the checkout?
  1. Yes, it's fine anytime. 56%
  2. Yes, but only if the child is acting up. 17%
  3. No, it gives children the wrong message. 18%
  4. No, it's illegal. 7%
Total Votes: 557
Voting on polls is not available on The Stir Mobile.


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

Filed Under: confessions


  • mommy...


    January 9, 2009 at 8:10 AM

    As long as you pay for it at check out, I do not see a reason not to let them. They are kids, sometimes they get hungry in the store.

  • fawn321


    January 9, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    When my kids were little, we usually got a package of wienies first thing, paid out and I let them munch on wienies while we shopped.  I don't see anything wrong with not paying before you open it.  I would just to avoid any questions but no days its no big deal

  • JenB1983


    January 9, 2009 at 8:36 AM

    My kids LOVE going grocery shopping; because they know that as long as the behave I grab them each a string cheese from the deli to munch on.  I've done that for years....LOL

  • Ltmanmom


    January 9, 2009 at 8:37 AM

    I used to do this when my oldest was younger. We don't anymore since our store gives you a free cookie. I knew a mom thought that let her kid eat a piece of fruit...which always really confused me, because aren't they sold by weight?

  • Del672


    January 9, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    I voted no because once they hit the toddler years, they eventually might think they can help themselves to anything in the store   I used to bring along a little snack for mine.  Remember the bins of loose candy you could buy in bulk?  In time, the stores put a coin container there so people would stop sampling and not paying there is NO sampling.  JMO

  • roxy85


    January 9, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    We always eat before we go to the grocery store. If my son wants a snack I always have a small container of stuff in my purse for him. The only thing that would legally be right for you to pop open in the grocery store would be things sold at a flat rate (pack of crackers) VS by weight (bag of grapes).

  • 1swtm...


    January 9, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    I open packages of items that the barcode can be scanned but I would not give my son fruit because that is weighed.  I don't see a problem with it if you are going to pay for it.  I shop at a semi small store and I usually go through the same cashier so now she just knows he has something in the cart that he has snacked on.  None of the employees/management has ever asked me to stop. I have never really thought it was wrong... my intentions are not to steal it... I have money to pay for the item.

  • Lovep...


    January 9, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    I even do it for ME sometimes. If I go to the grocery store and I'm starving, the first stop I make is for small milk or soda in the refridgerated sections. Then, I drink that while I shop so I don't buy stuff that's not on my list. If I do it, why wouldn't I let my toddler?  I try not to do it every time, but sometimes is OK.

  • AnnieMcD


    January 9, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    I don't see anything wrong with it.  I often get a drink, especially in the summer time when it's 115 degrees outside and I just got out of a car with no AC.  You'd better believe I get something cold to drink while I'm wandering around the store!!!  And it's not illegal, not even really frowned upon as long as you pay for it, you don't take anything that needs to be weighed, and you don't leave a mess in the store.

  • frisc...


    January 9, 2009 at 8:59 AM

    Some grocery stores are actually totally fine with it.  When I shopped at Whole Foods and my daughter was really little I would open crackers or something like that for her if I had forgotten her snack.  A few times when I got to the register the cashier actually asked me if she liked them.  Once I said, "No, not really."  And he said, "Oh, then I won't charge you for them."  And he just kept them behind the counter and did not charge me.  I was surprised by that.  It was nice.

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