‘Tis the season for crowded malls and busy parking lots, which are not top of the fun list at the best of times but even less so when you’re shopping with a baby.

More and more of us are shopping online but some gifts really need to be seen before they’re bought, so here are a few tips to help you get through your holiday shopping with your baby. The goal is no tears, for you or them!

Plan ahead

Time is of the essence when shopping with a baby, so a little advance planning will help you get through it all, quickly and easily!

First, make a list of what you need to buy and then figure out where you are going to go to find these items. There are plenty of shopping apps available that will let you price compare before you’ve even left the house.

Second, determine if your shopping is best split up over several trips. Tempting as it might be to get it all done in one trip, you will likely find that baby won’t agree with you after their third trip in and out of the car in a single afternoon. By planning your route, you can minimize the number of stops or rounds of the mall you need to take in order to get all your shopping done.

Plan the timing

Day of the week and time of day both matter when you’re shopping with your baby. Nap time? Not a good time. Lunch time? Nope. Saturday afternoon in the middle of the full swing holiday shopping season? Skip it.

Your best bet is to aim for a morning, earlier in the week than later, and if possible, avoiding nap time. The odds of baby sleeping in the muzak infested mall, with all the sights and sounds around them, aren’t great so don’t count on that. Instead, if your baby tends to fall asleep in the car or in the stroller while walking home, try and time your shopping so you’ll be done right around nap time and let nature take its course. Make sure they’re fed and changed before you leave, to minimize the need to have to do either of these en route. With any luck, you’ll find a great parking space and be on your way.

Also, check the mall website where you plan to shop to see if there are any playrooms or other family friendly spaces where you and baby, or your older child, can take a break.

Plan your baby supplies

Keep it to emergency essentials for this trip, so that you’re not overloaded before you’ve even started to shop: diaper bag with diapers, wipes, a burp cloth and possibly a change of onesie, just in case. Even better if your diaper bag can double as your purse for this trip, to avoid carrying too much.

For an older baby who is eating solid foods, don’t forget to pack some snacks. Keeping their hands busy with some puffs, cereal pieces or fruit will help you get through the trip, tantrum free.

As for what to wear, layers are the best bet. Stores get hot and your baby will fuss if they get too warm from all the winter gear. Make sure you can take a layer or two off of them, quickly and easily.

Plan your baby transportation

If your baby is very small, a babywearing carrier is an option, so you can keep them close to you. They might be more at ease this way too. If not, a stroller is essential as you won’t be able to carry your baby in your arms for long, and it’s not a safe option anyway.

If you’re shopping in bigger stores that have carts, make sure baby stays safe in the cart. Don’t place the car seat in the cart seat: it’s unstable. The cart could easily tip over, sending baby down with it! Instead, opt for a Binxy Baby shopping cart hammock. Baby can rest easy and safely while you shop.

Plan your baby distractions

For babies, their favorite rattle or other toy that can be clipped to their seat or stroller is a good option. Baby is most often looking to you for your reaction to things so even if you’re getting a little stressed out during the trip, keep your tone light and happy.

Older children can have a book or other toy but just remember, if they send it flying while you’re not looking, you could end up with a meltdown of epic proportions, right in the middle of the mall!

And if the meltdown happens anyway…

Despite your best of intentions and planning, there’s no telling when a baby might get upset, so don’t stress and instead take a shopping break and cuddle your little one. That might be all they need to see the rest of the trip through without another peep.

Shopping with baby doesn’t have to be stressful or unpleasant: you just have to be prepared. Keep the above tips in mind and you’ll find yourself breezing through your shopping list in no time.

Lisa Pinnell is the founder of the Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock, an easy, convenient, and most importantly, safe way to hold a baby plus a basket full of goodies while shopping. Binxy Baby’s patented design quickly and easily clips onto most carts, the seat hangs elevated so you have plenty of room underneath for groceries, then it rolls up to fit in your purse or diaper bag when finished. https://binxybaby.com/.