Babies and toddlers can certainly develop lasting friendships! Keep reading for 6 sweet ideas for creating a circle of friends for your toddler.
Set Up a Playdate in the Park
Grab your stroller and a good pal and head for the park. Parents can walk, talk and push Baby in the fresh air. Let the babies play on the grass together. Even though they aren’t communicating with each other right now, they’ll soon be able to recognize the face of their new best buddy and reciprocate a smile!
Expect Some “Parallel Play”
You might wonder and worry, when watching babies play in a group setting, that they aren’t playing together. At this age, it’s totally normal for babies to “parallel play” — i.e., play individually side-by-side. This just means the babies are moving around the room, doing their own thing, but very rarely interacting (except maybe to grab toys away from each other!)
Don’t fret about lack of interaction. Instead, encourage the babies to bond by introducing the children to each other and by frequently repeating their names.
Snuggle Up with a Book
Start reading to one child, and you can be sure that within a few minutes other children will be drawn in and wanting to see the pictures too! Choose books with familiar characters, limited text and bright colors like Disney’s Pooh Loves You. This version is personalized but you can amend while reading aloud to include all the children in the group.
Encourage Group Activities
Don’t expect your toddler to willingly share toys! That kind of understanding comes in time. For now, encourage group activities with toddlers like bouncing balls, chasing each other on the grass, or popping bubbles together. Physical activities that include large motor skills are most appropriate for this age. Older toddlers may enjoy messy finger painting or dancing to music with their friends.
Help Them Bond Over Snacks
Babies and toddlers are usually in their best moods when they have a yummy snack to share and food in their belly! Make sure everyone has their own sipper cup and a favorite snack to enjoy together.
Appreciate Personality Differences
What do you do when personalities between toddlers doesn’t mesh? Consider paring down the play date group to just two children. This will allow the toddlers to connect more closely to each other and possibly squabble less when there’s less chaos. And don’t worry if there’s an occasional meltdown or tantrum – those things happen, even between friends!