playdate toddlerToddlers are ready for their first play date around age 2. Playing with other children at play dates and toddler care programs offers toddlers well-supervised opportunities to practice their communication and social skills. Don’t be surprised if your child and his friends don’t actually interact with each other. At this age toddlers engage primarily in parallel play where children play next to each other rather than together.

Play Date Tips

Use our toddler tips to make sure your toddler’s first play date is a success:

1. Schedule play dates for when your toddler is well rested and well fed. Successful play dates are short and sweet. An hour is enough for most toddlers, but be prepared to end the play date sooner if children become cranky.

2. Include the other child’s parent or caregiver in your play date invitation. Toddlers feel more secure and are more willing to explore when their usual caregiver is present. Use the opportunity to chat and expand your own circle of friends while you both watch the kids.

3. Prepare your home for success. Limit play to one room and place an assortment of toys in easy reach. Toddlers are still learning to share so avoid tears by removing from the room any favorite toys your child has trouble sharing.

4. If you plan to serve a snack, prepare it ahead of time. Remember to check with your guest’s parent about food allergies or restrictions.

5. Step back and give toddlers a chance to explore and work things out on their own before making suggestions or intervening to settle disputes.

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