Special needs

Grocery store must-have for kids with special needs

Anchel Krishna discovers a simple product that enables Syona to enjoy her weekly grocery store trip with her dad.

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Syona in her Kanga Boo at the grocery store. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

When you have a child with special needs you realize just how many things we take for granted. Yes, there is the big stuff (walking, talking, feeding, etc.) but there are also the smaller day-to-day tasks that occasionally serve up a big challenge.

When Syona was big enough to have outgrown her infant carseat but was unable to sit up independently I posed the first of many questions to the online communities I was part of: How do you grocery shop with a kid who can’t sit up in a grocery cart?

My new special needs parent friends weighed in with their tips:
• The push-pull method: Push the cart, pull the stroller/wheelchair (or vice versa) method that left me feeling exhausted at the thought — and I’m pretty sure that I’m not coordinated enough to carry that off.
• The sandwich method: Stick Syona in the seat and put two heavy objects on either side of her. This works well for our American and out-of-province friends who buy their milk in gallon jugs, but not much with our four-litre bags of milk.
• Leave the kid at home method: Selectively choose your time to go grocery shopping when there is someone else at home to take care of your kid.
Caroline’s Cart: An awesome grocery cart that has a built-in seat to allow kids who can’t sit up independently to go grocery shopping with their families. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it at any of our local grocery stores. It’s one of those “maybe one day” hopes that I have.

Fast-forward a few months later when a friend posted a picture of the Kanga Boo on Three to Be’s Parent Advocacy Link Facebook page. The seat allows kids to be properly supported while seated in the grocery cart and the designer is currently working on a design specifically geared toward children with special needs. The new design will feature a higher back to offer some head support for kids who need it. I ordered the original design for Syona and it has worked perfectly.

Syona could finally sit up in the grocery cart and was properly supported. It enabled her to feel secure enough to explore — she holds onto the cart handle, reaches over to grab items off shelves or unravels an entire roll of produce bags (don’t worry, we helped clean it up). I’ve also written a lot about building therapy into play and the grocery store is an awesome setting to practice speech skills. The busy environment lends itself really well to talking with your child. Describing the food you’re buying and showing how it all fits into different categories. Since she was properly supported Syona started talking more at the grocery store and would often add to our grocery list and request that red apples and pizza buns be added to the cart.

A weekly grocery shopping trip has become a bit of a tradition for Dilip and Syona. He often takes her on a Saturday morning (I usually use that time to write this blog). And the Kanga Boo made his weekly trips with Syona so much easier.

In my family, my youngest sister and dad always did weekly grocery trips together. It was a really sweet tradition and I wanted Syona to grow up with the same thing with her dad. A well-designed product made this tradition possible for my family. Sometimes the simplest solutions make the biggest difference.

Have you found any products that make your life easier and enable your kids to participate in little family traditions?