A family trip to the zoo can be a memorable experience even if there are toddlers in the group. It simply takes a little additional planning and preparation. Planning the day’s activities, scheduling some nap time and packing stroller-friendly snacks are just a few of the tips that can make a trip to the zoo with toddlers a day to remember.
As a rule, toddlers are more alert and better behaved first thing in the morning. Plan to hit the zoo as soon as it opens so that you can see what you want before tempers start waning. It’s not likely that toddlers will last the whole day but getting a good start in the morning will make things go smoother for longer.
Pack Stroller-friendly Snacks
Toddlers need to eat frequently. If you don’t want to have to stop repeatedly to feed them, pack some snacks that your child can feed himself while cruising through the zoo. Finger foods can not only stave off hunger but occupy the toddler’s attention and keep them from getting bored.
Check Out Hands-on Attractions
It isn’t much fun for toddlers to just sit in the stroller and watch the world around them. They need a little activity too. Many zoos have hands-on attractions like petting zoos and feeding opportunities where toddlers can touch and feel some of the animals in settings that are safe and supervised.
Prepare Your Toddler for the Trip
Before the trip, talk to your child about the zoo. Let them know what they will see and what to expect. Visit the library and read stories about the animals you plan to visit. Rent some videos about the animals so your toddler will know what to expect.
Include Some Quiet Time
A trip to the zoo is going to extend beyond nap time. If your child is going to need a nap, plan some quiet time for this period of the day. This can be a good time to take a tram ride or for seeing a show where you can all sit down for a while. Tired toddlers are more likely to nod off while the zoo train chugs rhythmically along or while they can cuddle in your arms.
It is not realistic to think you will be able to take in the whole zoo in one trip. If the zoo is large, pre-pick the attractions you want to take in and plan your route carefully. This will help prevent overtaxing your toddler’s limitations and make for a more pleasant trip for everyone.