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Going to the mall with a toddler is fun, but complicated

By Stephanie G. Johnson

The Bulletin

Shopping with an almost 2-year-old toddler can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a nightmare.

We decided to try out a mall for the first time, and we ended up at the Katy Mills Mall. We haven’t been in years and figured it would be fun to take our toddler there.

We walked through a huge fishing and hunting store, and my toddler was amazed by the animals on the walls. They even had a fish tank, where he enjoyed watching the fish swim around.

So far so good. We left that store and started walking around the mall. He didn’t want to be in his stroller anymore. He wanted to walk around and do his own shopping.

As he was walking around on his own, I had him hold my hand. It was so sweet walking around the mall with him - until he saw the playground. He bolted off on his own to the Disney-themed space, which is one of the cooler indoor playgrounds I have seen.

As he was driving the Mickey Mouse car and laughing at the Puppy Dog Pals piano, I sat there wondering how did he get so independent? He used to want me to go everywhere with him, and now he is becoming his own little person.

When he had enough of the playground, we continued walking around the mall. I didn’t realize they still had a TILT video arcade. He decided that is where he wanted to go. It’s fun when you have a toddler who doesn’t fully understand games yet, because we just act like we are playing the games without actually paying for them. That’s a big money saver also. I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

We sat in TILT racing cars together for the demo, and he was having the time of his life while Dad was shopping for athletic shoes. It was a great way to pass some time. A little while later, he had enough of the cars, and we were on to the next place.

We continued to walk the mall and found a carousel, sitting right in the middle of the food court. You’ve got to be kidding me. What is this? Mall of America?

We successfully walked past it without him noticing it. Something else had caught his attention - a kiosk with those little annoying toy dogs and cats that meow and bark at you when you walk.

I remember those toys from when I was younger. I’m sorry, mom and dad; I know I had one and loved it then, but as an adult, they were some of the most annoying toys I’ve ever heard. I have dogs and cats, and they don’t sound like that. “He has the real thing at home; we don’t need one of those,” my husband said. He was right.

Next up, is the Rainforest Cafe. My toddler was amazed by all of the animals on the outside of the building - and the waterfall. We even walked under a huge giraffe. We were there early, so we didn’t walk in, or else he probably would have had even more fun there trying to buy the entire gift shop.

I wondered what could be next. I never noticed any of these things at the mall before. I only remember shopping. That’s my favorite activity in malls.

Well, Toddler started running, and I knew he saw something that he couldn’t resist. It was a choo choo train, sitting right there in the middle of the mall.

Malls have this all figured out - just place a kid magnet every 50 feet.

We were there early, so no one was driving the train yet, but he wanted in. We picked him up and put him in the yellow cart. He sat down and didn’t want to get out until the choo-choo was moving. That was a problem.

It wasn’t operating yet, so the only way to get him out was bribery with fruit snacks, which works in any situation.

I loved Build-A-Bear growing up and really wanted to take him there. We happened to walk right by the store. It was getting close to nap time, so it was a risk that we took. He picked out a baby Yoda and then changed his mind and decided to get a Dinosaur.

We had to wait in a fairly long line to get the dino stuffed, and Toddler lost his patience. He was ready for lunch and a nap. My toddler looked half asleep when his turn finally came.

We knew it was time to go. We enjoyed the mall, but we also learned another lesson. If you want to go to Build-A-Bear with a toddler, do it early instead of making it the last stop and past lunch and nap time. Now we know.

(Please send emails to Stephanie at, or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)


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