Friday, October 25, 2013

Baby's Day at the Zoo - Part I

Recently, my adult daughter and I had an opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo. It is an amazing place and we had a wonderful day. As you might expect, we were surrounded by families from all over the world, many with babies and toddlers. Zoos and large parks are great places to take children, especially when you've done your homework and made a plan well ahead of time. In today's post, we'll share some tips to help you plan your zoo-day. Next time, we'll share some of what we learned on the day of our trip that might help make your experience as safe and as fun as possible.

Before you go....
1. Consider the cost (including admission, shows, food, water, and souvenirs) given that your baby or toddler may not be able to stay through the entire day or enjoy all of the activities. Even a stroller can get hot and uncomfortable, so don't count on one to get you through to the next exhibit after the meltdowns begin.

2. Create a realistic schedule/plan for your day that allows for meals, breaks, and rest time (for you and your baby). Go during the part of the day when your baby is most likely to be happy and alert. Large zoos take a long time to get through. If your baby is very young, you might want to concentrate in one area or choose a smaller zoo.

3. Prioritize the animals/sites you want to see. Even if your toddler can stay awake through most of the day, he might get overwhelmed by all the new sites and sounds. By mid-afternoon, we saw more than a few miserable parents with fussy babies and cranky toddlers. Most zoos have maps you can see online. If your toddler is old enough to help, make a list of your favorite animals together!

4. Speaking of maps, make sure you know the layout including distances, hills, and bathrooms! Find the routes that work best for your situation and fitness level. We saw a lot of tired parents pushing double strollers up steep hills!

5. Bring a crowd, or at least a couple of helpful adults to help. Excited children can wiggle away in an instant. It's always best to have more than 2 eyes or arms in such an exciting and potentially dangerous place. We were happy to see a lot of extended family members, especially with toddlers. Just make sure that every one knows who is watching your child at all times.

Next time, we'll share what we observed and learned during our time in San Diego to help your day at the zoo be more fun for you and your child.

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