Bringing your kids to the zoo? It’s a great bonding activity (and very educational, too) but like any trip with toddlers you can expect a few tantrums along the way. Young kids can tire and get overstimulated—especially when they’re very excited. (Which is one reason why you should wait until they’re older before planning a trip to Disneyworld.) Here are tips to keep them calm and minimize any meltdowns that can ruin the experience for everybody.
One of the scariest moments you’ll ever go through—letting go of your toddler’s hands for one minute, turning around and realizing that he’s wandered off on his own. Dress him up in something very colorful, and add a cap in a bright color (it will also keep out the sun and protect him from UV exposure). If you’re going in a big group, have everyone wear the same color so that you don’t accidentally forget who’s wearing what.
Ask relatives to join
It’s best if you have one adult for every child. If you’ve got a lot of kids with you, ask a relative or a neighbor to join the trip. That way, there’s always an extra pair of hands if a child has to go to the bathroom or dawdle at the monkey exhibit.
Find the restrooms right away
Don’t wait until the last minute to look for the restroom (especially since kids usually wait until they really, really have to go). Find out where they are, and go to the first one you see even if your kids say that they’re fine.
Despite all efforts to watch your kids, there’s always a chance that you will get separated. Tell older kids where they can go if that happens (‘if you get lost, just go to the tiger exhibit and I will come get you’). For toddlers, pin contact information in his pocket, including your mobile number (and bring that phone with you).
Keep it short
Toddlers get tired easily, so if you’re going to a big zoo, consider tackling it in several short trips. Or, retreat to a restaurant or a quiet corner for periodic ‘time outs’ where he can sit, eat, and just calm down after all that stimulation and excitement. And bring the umbrella stroller, even if your child likes to walk. He can rest there, and the rolling motion may help soothe him or even lull him into a much needed nap.
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