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Great Places to take a Toddler

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo!

Zoos in many cities are now open all year round, so you aren’t always limited to going only in the spring and summer months. Animals are great attention-getters for toddlers, and you and your toddler can enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, and exercise in a day at the zoo.

Plan ahead for the outing. Pack essentials such as diapers, wipes, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, tissues. Healthy snacks such as bananas, apples and raisins along with water bottles or juice boxes are good for snack time. If you plan to have lunch at the zoo, bring a blanket to spread out on the grass and a larger lunch tote with freezer packs to keep food cold. Sandwiches can be packed in ziplock bags ~ anything from peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, turkey with lettuce and tomato ~ any sandwich you want. Children usually like baby carrots. Carrots are nutritious, don’t spoil easily, and can be nibbled on even while walking and enjoying the exhibits.

Get a map of the zoo so you can choose which animals you definitely don’t want to miss seeing. Don’t rush through the zoo. Your toddler may be curious about an animal you wouldn’t have pointed out. Sometimes, a squirrel skittering along the grass is more interesting than the giant elephant right in front of her/him. Let this be your toddler’s exploration time and whenever possible, allow your child to walk in the zoo. The stroller can be for cranky or nappy times.

Your zoo may have certain times when people can see zoo employees interacting with animals. There may be a specific feeding time when you can watch the seals lunching or trained birds putting on a show at a certain time. These activities make your visit most enjoyable.

Make a list of the animals you see at the zoo and you can make a post-outing activity. Your toddler may want to look at pictures of animals and name them; you can tell your toddler what the initial letter of the animal’s name is (such as ‘L’ is for lion), you can playact with your child ~ pretending to be each animal in movement and sound; you can draw and color animals seen at the zoo. Read books you have at home or get books from the library to reinforce your child’s zoo experience.