posted in Parenting
Let’s face it, we all want our little ones to be happy, healthy, and socially confident. Before our kids start school and other activities, playdates are a great way to interact with others and learn what it’s like to share, make friends, and explore new environments.
While it’s never too early to start having playdates, the playdates themselves change as our kids grow. So if you’re not sure what to do at a playdate for little ones before they’re walking and talking, we’ve got you covered.
First, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: It really isn’t a baby playdate, it’s a parent playdate! Child development experts haven’t yet proven that early time with other babies makes a difference in development, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get younger babies together. It just means that since you’ll be doing more socializing than your baby, you should choose play groups or friends that you want to spend time with as well! And really, most weeks, it’s a much-needed break for adult conversation…so go ahead and get those playdates on the calendar.
Now that you’ve got a playdate or two scheduled, it’s time to get down to business…the business of having fun! The best advice is to keep it light, friendly, and social.
Just like in the Girl Scouts though, it’s best to be prepared when socializing with babies. Here are 5 things to have on hand for your next baby playdate — you can easily round them all up on your next Target run!
1. Baby-friendly toys
Clear out an area to make room for your mama and baby friends and have a few toys at the ready for the different age groups. I like to mix it up with one or two large items, like the Infantino Go GaGa Infant-to-Toddler Play Gym & Fun TeePee (all ages love this!) and a couple of smaller toys as well. This way it’s not overwhelming, but there are still enough items to choose from. Having everything laid out ahead of time creates a clear boundary for where the playdate will take place and if you have a child old enough to have toys they don’t want to share, those can be put away before the playdate begins.
2. Snacks for parents and babies
Everything goes better when hunger can be curbed. Be ready with snacks for your parent friends, like snack bars, trail mix, etc., as well as age-appropriate snacks for the babies. Everyone will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Brew a pot or have those K-cups ready to go! In my house, just the scent of coffee brewing is a mood-lifter, and having a warm sip ready for your guests is something they’ll look forward to. Plus, watching babies play means extra caffeine is in order, right?
4. Extra Wipes and dipes
I’m not saying you need to have every size diaper on hand, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared with some wipes and a couple of extra diapers nearby, along with a place to change a soiled diaper. Accidents will happen and diapers will fill, it’s just the nature of a baby playdate. Ease the discomfort of your friends by avoiding the need to ask for wipes or where they should change their crying babe by having an area ready ahead of time.
Most baby parents will have blankets with them, along with wipes and diapers… but I think we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve forgotten something, right? Having a few extra blankets ready for babies to lay on, play on, or for a mama to grab if she needs to nurse her little one undercover is a great way to make your guests feel welcome.
Blanket idea from Target that are good for all kinds of uses: Cloud Island Flannel Baby Blankets – Forest Frolic, Cloud Island Flannel Baby Blankets – Adventure Awaits, Muslin Swaddle Blankets – Floral
A few extra tips for a baby playdate:
Watch the Numbers
At most ages, the least risky move for a playdate is to have a one-on-one — it allows for a quieter environment and less chance for someone being left out. Though since babies don’t really play together, you can add in a couple more, since it’s really about the moms getting in some adult conversation. Just note that the more bodies you add, the more involved you’ll need to be in the play.
Keep the playdates short and leave ’em wanting more. An hour is plenty for babies and toddlers, but most preschoolers can easily handle two. Remember, there shouldn’t really be “dropoffs” in playdates for ages under 4, so set a clear timeframe upfront, since you’ll be entertaining both babies and parents.
Don’t forget, this is all about socialization and fun. It’s fine to have activities or ideas planned ahead of time, but really baby playdates are for the parents to get together and share their stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly, with each other for laughs. Keep it light and remember to enjoy the break from cleaning, laundry, and baby-only-talk.
What about you? Have you hosted a baby playdate before? What tips would you give?
This post is sponsored by Target. All opinions are truthful and my own.