Recorder Sophie Drake jailed Simon Porter, of West Road, Mexborough for 12 months for the 'cynical' and 'manipulative' toys scheme, that the 43-year-old used in three different shops between November and December last year.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how on December 8, Porter went into a Doncaster branch of B&M Bargains and picked up a selection of children's toys.
Bev Tait, prosecuting, said: "He approached the till and said he was very pleased with the way staff had dealt with his wife, who was bereaved, at an earlier visit and could he have a refund for the goods taken."
Despite him not offering a receipt, staff at the store gave him a refund for Â£31.98 for the goods he had picked up from the toys aisle a few moments later.
The court heard how Porter also used the same lie when he attempted to get refunds for toys he had not brought in two separate incidents at a Sainsbury's and Tesco store in Lincoln in November.
Ms Tait told the court that Porter attempted a similar rouse at a branch of B&Q in York on December 2, but instead of telling staff his child had died he said his brother had died and he needed to return a light fitting he had brought for him.
"He was offered a credit note and he left with that," said Ms Tait.
Ms Tait said Porter had previously committed over 100 criminal offences, including 99 for fraud and 30 for theft.
She said Porter had already been convicted of fraud by false representation, and that when he committed those offences he used the same lie of needing a refund for toys bought for a dead child.
Porter pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation at an earlier hearing.
Defending, Richard Haigh, said Porter had a 'long standing addiction to Class A drugs.'
"There are ways and ways of choosing to support his addiction, and he chooses this way," added Mr Haigh.
Recorder Drake said: "You pretended your child had died so there would be inevitable sympathy from the staff - that's what you were hoping for.
"That was cynical and manipulative."