How to Make Car Boot Shopping With a Toddler Fun!

How to Survive Car Boot Shopping With a Toddler in 9 Simple Steps

Survive Car Boot Shopping with a Toddler – 9 Simple Steps!

Who doesn’t love a bargain? I love finding hidden gems at car boot sales. They are my absolute favourite summer time activity. In fact you can take a little nose at some of our Carboot finds here. And we saved a small fortune buying second hand when b came along.

The problem though, now that I’m a mum? Yep, I sometimes have to take little man with me. And if you read our write up on eating out with a toddler, you’ll know that’s why I’m not that fussed shopping with one!

Hands up who enjoys shopping with a toddler?

Yep, didn’t think so. Hands up who enjoys trying to grapple their said toddler from a box of ten pence crap?

How to Make Car Boot Shopping With a Toddler Fun in 9 Simple Steps

So today on the blog I share with you a few things that have really helped keep the little one inline when trying to enjoy a Sunday mooch round the local boot.

Carboot mooching is one of my guilty pleasures. But unless the hubby has b, I’m left bargaining with a three year old and not the sellers. Instead of bagging a bargain, I end up bringing back utter crap Just to keep the little guy quiet. The solution? Don’t take your toddler.

carboot shopping with a toddler kids

No seriously, if you can leave him at home, boom! My fave car boot outings are definiately without the little man. But sometimes this isnt always possible. Here are some of the things that work:


And by this I mean explain what a Carboot sale is. In toddler language of course. There are loads of people selling junk from their homes. Some of the junk is super cool and some not so. It’s our job to find the cool stuff.

Give him pocket money

I find it really helpful to give b some pennies and explain that this is all he has, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It took a few trips to the boot before he cottoned on but now he is quite the discerning buyer.

carboot shopping with a toddler kids

Buy some Junk

Yep that’s right, actually buy some junk. I find that often the bits b picks up are going for 10p and they actually keep him amused as we wander the next lot of stalls. If b latches on to something he wants and it’s only going to set me back a few pence, I don’t mind getting it. More often than not, the seller will say “oh just take it”. We’ve had a lot of free junk!

carboot shopping with a toddler kids cheddar car boot southwest vintage markets

Shoulder rides

Give your toddler a lift as you browse the stalls. Now personally I can’t because b weighs nearly 3 stone. But when mr d is walking, he often sits b on his shoulders. This keeps him happy for a while.

The bribe

One thing that does work well is the bribe. If you’re good, when we see a cool toy, we can get it. This also works really well when there is an ice cream van at the boot. If we have an enjoyable time mooching, we can treat ourselves to an ice cream after.

carboot shopping with a toddler kids cheddar car boot southwest vintage markets


Need I say more?! As long as I have a handbag loaded with apples, raisins, bananas and crisps, b is happy.

Treasure Hunt

What we find really helps is having an aim for the morning. Many times we’ve rocked up at the boot and asked b what he wants to find today. We’ve had space rockets, Woody, submarines, planes. And usually we find something which meets b’s approval.

carboot shopping with a toddler kids cheddar car boot southwest vintage markets

Learning opportunities

It sounds silly but going to the boot has definitely helped in trying to explain to b the value of items. We typically give him one pound and we reiterate as we go round that this is all he has. He should decide to spend his pound wisely. And for a four year old, I’m really impressed. Many times we walk to a stall, he takes a glance and moves on. A few months ago this wasn’t the case and it does take time.

Which leads me on to my final point…


It takes time for them to understand that they can’t go home with everyone’s junk! Persevere, go again the following weekend and see how you get on. There are so many awesome bargains to be had and we love to see what we can pick up most weekends.

Do you shop at Carboot sales? Or do you prefer to buy new? We’ve found so many bargains and you can check out some of our finds here.

How to Make Car Boot Shopping With a Toddler Fun in 9 Simple Steps



  1. We love carboot sales! My little girl is three and she loves hunting for barbies, Monster High dolls and ever after high dolls. She’s actually quite good at going and looking for just those and goes round each stall saying “no, no dolls” she does sometimes still get distracted by the junk though lol x

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