Hitting everyone’s favorite Swedish retailer with kids in tow is some parents’ idea of a nightmare. But it shouldn’t be. With a few key tips, you’ll be breezing through the aisles in ninja-mom style {and possibly with a little shopping time to yourself!}. Here’s how to shop IKEA with kids…

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

IKEA’s arrival to theCityMoms’ HQ city of Indianapolis has been more anticipated than headlines that Ryan Gosling is back on the market. The year-long buildup to its construction and official opening have peppered headlines for eons. Its slow emergence off I-69 had our members whispering ‘DID YOU SEE?’ at an increased rate. Needless to say, we’re excited to welcome IKEA.

Here are theCityMoms’ best tips for shopping IKEA with kids:

1. Use the family-friendly or expectant mother parking.

No need to park miles away and lug the kiddos through the lot. Family parking spaces are reserved near the front entrance for expectant mothers and/or families at most IKEA locations. Look for signs and park guilt-free.

2. Get to know Smaland, the in-house child care.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

“My kids love the in store childcare. They’re obsessed. They literally beg to go to IKEA.” says CityMom Kristi who recently moved to the Chicagoland area and is now an avid IKEA Schaumburg shopper. So let us break it down on your-new-favorite-thing-that-will-allow-you-some-solo-shopping-time: The Smaland Playroom is a fun, safe and supervised space for kiddos to play while parents shop solo for up to 60 minutes.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

Kids must be within 37″ to 54″ tall, potty-trained and wearing socks. Parents will be handed a pager to carry with them throughout the store. If a problem arises, parents will be paged to return but otherwise, you’re free. For 60 minutes. And for the germaphobes in all of us, rest assured that toys {including the pit balls} are cleaned regularly and religiously. No germs here.

CityMoms note: Smaland CAN reach capacity so go early to ensure a spot for your kiddo.

3. Formulate your plan of attack.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

IKEA has cornered the market in indoor traffic flow. Let us explain and throw in some IKEA verbiage to get familiar with: Nearly every IKEA layout is the same, regardless if it’s a single or multi-level store. So once you’ve figured out one, you’ve figured out them all.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

Shoppers enter through a designated entrance and are directed to the Showroom {a series of modular rooms and galleries divided by room concentration: Living, Dining, Kitchen, etc}. The Showroom is where you’ll draw most of your design inspiration from –  rooms are fully furnished, open for browsing/sitting/opening cabinets and outfitted to resemble something straight out of Apartment Therapy.

Arrows are beamed onto the floors to draw shoppers through each section – IKEA calls this ‘the natural path.’ This is IKEA’s way of ensuring visitors experience every square foot of the store. CityMoms tip: Drop the kids off at Smaland so you can enjoy the Showroom in peace. Otherwise this area can be a major challenge with kids. It’s easy for them to wander off into a modular room and frankly, wheeling a stroller or cart through them is only for the bravest of parents.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

Next up is the Restaurant – more on that below. It divides the Showroom from what’s known as the Marketplace.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

The Marketplace is your ‘grab and go’ section which is broken into areas like Kitchen, Lighting, Textiles, Furniture and more. You’ll be loading the cart here and things are set out to easily snag. This is the time we typically make sure kids are loaded up and strapped in to a stroller or cart so they’re not adding things too.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

Before you hit the registers though, shoppers will be directed through the Self-Serve Warehouse. CityMoms tip: If your kiddos have a limited attention span, the Warehouse is sometimes the longest stretch of your life as it divides your final path to Checkout. It’s vast and all concrete so noise reverberates. If you cross paths with another parent whose kids are at the end of their rope and giving hell, offer them a high five. You’re almost done.

Checkout: It’s self-serve for the most part and this is a great spot to put kids in charge of scanning items or clearing the cart. Survive this using Tip #7 below.

What might have been a 30-minute stop could easily transition into 2 hours. So have a plan of attack: Know what areas you want to shop, grab the handy store maps and make good use of directional signs.

4. Take advantage of the ‘short cuts.’

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

Probably one of our fave trade secrets: Each Showroom and Marketplace section contains a special cut-thru – consider them an Alice In Wonderland-type door that will sneak you thru one step closer to your final destination. Perfect when kids are losing their cool and you need to make a smooth getaway somewhere else.

To find them, look UP at the directional signs. They’re indicated by a smaller arrow where available.


MORE GREAT READING: Our guide to unique kid menus in Indianapolis


5. Everyone eats on the cheap at the in-house IKEA Restaurant.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

“If I know we are going to be a while, I make sure I pack a snack for halfway though the first floor and then we stop for lunch.” says CityMom Hannah. Hannah isn’t alone: Many of our CityMoms quoted the Restaurant as a fave stop.

The Restaurant is set up cafeteria-style and usually contains lots of little pocket areas to sit, play, etc. so it’s the perfect halfway point for your shopping trip.

Other bonuses: Children’s meals are dirt cheap. Baby food is FREE for dine-in guests. The area is stocked with high chairs, close to the restrooms and usually has a small Smaland-inspired playarea.

6. Sign up for the IKEA Family member program.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

This is IKEA’s loyalty program which offers discounts on specific products, special deals, Restaurant discounts {parents – this includes free coffee!}, a dedicated shopping section and design inspo emails all for one of our favorite words: FREE.

What else? IKEA Family cardholders also receive an additional 30 minutes of time in Smaland and store officials tell us a monthly Kids Academy craft hour is in the works.

Kiosks are located throughout the store for sign-up – it only takes a couple minutes to get yours and again, it’s FREE. #YesPlease

7. Bribe with the Bistro.

The Bistro is the final counter you’ll encounter at IKEA. It’s located post-checkout, next to the Exits and it has $1 ICE CREAM CONES. It’s the perfect, wallet-friendly way to bribe kids for good behavior. Oh and pickup a tray of special IKEA cinnamon rolls for the road. Breakfast = done.

8. Use the bathroom. No, seriously.

We know. This sounds odd. Let us explain: The bathrooms at IKEA have it going on. Both mens and womens rooms have stalls designed just for kiddos, at-their-height sinks, and dedicated diaper changing stations {with dedicated diaper pail}. Or, take advantage of the Family Restrooms also sprinkled throughout the store.

9. Let the kids run loose in the Children’s Showroom.

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

How to shop IKEA with kids - theCityMoms

“We use the childcare but have gone a few times when it was full…” says CityMom Abby. “So in those cases we quickly detour to the kids section and grab a few stuffed animals they can play with while we shop! I will say that the best way to do IKEA is without kids in tow so you can enjoy it.”

And we couldn’t agree more. This is another area where the genius of IKEA strikes again. Play is encouraged in the Children’s Section and parents take note, no toy sold by IKEA requires batteries.

So there you have it: 9 tips for how to shop IKEA with kids. Did we miss any of your favorite ninja-mom moves for surviving IKEA with kids in tow? Let us know in the comments. Also: A special thanks to IKEA USA for providing some of the photography for this post! 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jeanine Bobenmoyer headshot - theCityMomsJeanine Bobenmoyer – like many moms – wears numerous hats including wife, mother of 2, trail runner, yoga-addict, Michigan native, die-hard Wolverines fan, Thai food enthusiast and avid reader. After years spent in the world of advertising agencies, she now curbs her Mad Men tendencies as a Communications Manager for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Jeanine is also the Chief Mom Officer and Founder of theCityMoms. Find Jeanine on TwitterInstagram and in the sale section at Anthropologie.

2017-10-05T23:14:47+00:00October 5th, 2017|
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