The interaction between child and parent while shopping helps young people develop social skills and promotes happiness - even if a bawling toddler shows few signs of it at the time.
According to the joint study by Oxford University and the Open University, shopping trips are just as beneficial for the child's development as painting or drawing activities.
The two universities made these conclusions after studying the results of an economic survey in Germany.
This survey looked into the daily routines and habits of 800 parents with two and three-year-olds.
It recorded higher perceived levels of happiness among the children who had taken part in activities such as arts and crafts, and shopping.
Researchers Professor Paul Anand and Dr Laurence Roope added that the more retail therapy the toddlers were exposed to, the happier they seemed to be, and the more developed their everyday skills became.
Shopping may be beneficial because it involves changes of scenery from shop to shop, which improves the child's motor and social skills more than a sedentary activity, the report continued.
Image: Toddler shopping with father, via Shutterstock