Playdates are more than just a fun social event, they are also very beneficial to your little one. Even a babies can reap the benefits that playing with others offers.
Their play may not be as complex and structured as the older kids’, but the benefits are still there, and it’s the perfect chance to gather and watch the interactions unfold. In this article I’ll go over some great playdate ideas for you baby as well as a few useful tips for a successful playdate.
A playdate for a baby is not only a social interaction -which plays a crucial role in how children develop- but it’s also a soul-satisfying activity for both parents and their little ones. Playdates provide babies with the opportunity to develop and grow in an environment that is conducive to learning through play and socialization with others in their own age group.
It’s also an opportunity for them to grow and further develop their motor, language, cognitive, and physical skills and abilities.
Why Playdates are Beneficial for Babies
Fun activities such as messy arts and crafts or clapping and playing with toys can stimulate their rapidly growing brain. Slowly they will learn to empathize, socialize, and build many important skills that will set the foundation for a successful life.
Infants and toddlers love to spend time and interact with each other. Thus, a playdate is an effective method of helping them slowly develop these important skills.
These arranged meetings will also help them to develop a strong immune system. By joining playdates and going to other homes or facilities, they are exposed to more microorganisms that their little bodies can learn to fight biologically at an early age.
Through playdates babies can let go of their bottled-up energy. They jump, scream and move so their bodies become physically fit but also ready for good sleep.
The babies look at the other babies and try to copy what they are doing. This is very different if the infant plays alone inside the crib where their behavior is guided by their cravings.
Babies discover the world around them by observing and doing. Exciting new things, people, and pieces of information are presented to a babies on playdates.
Playdate Ideas for Babies
Here are some fun and easy play date ideas for babies that enterprising moms and dads can adopt without any hassle and spending a lot of money.
Playdates locations could be your friend’s house, a backyard with a nice shade tree, or a local park- any safe location that offers a fresh atmosphere and new things to encounter.
If properly organized, a playdate promises to be a wholesome experience for you and your baby.
Yes, finger painting is quite messy but it has many benefits for babies, toddlers, and older children. The untidy art activity using non-toxic paint helps them learn about how colors work, especially the mixing of primary colors.
Finger painting supports sensory integration or the process by which babies receive and organize information through different senses.
It improves fine motor development by making finger and hand muscles stronger, which among many other benefits can help babies to express their feelings.
Obviously this is going to get quite messy, which makes it a great activity to do outside. But you can still get messy inside, just take the proper steps to ensure easy clean-up.
Here’s a totally non-toxic, easy to clean and washable finger paint set to get them started.
Fun With Playdough
Kid-safe or baby playdough is a perfect first-time playdough for infants, toddlers and beyond.
Playdough facilitates the little one’s learning and development and is adaptable for a variety of learning experiences. Due to its sensory nature, babies become curious and want to explore this dough using their senses, which sparks creativity.
Squeezing and molding the playdough enhances control and strength in the babies’ fingers, hands, and wrists which helps develop and strengthen fine motor skills.
Here is a baby-safe homemade playdough recipe that will provide much fun, creativity, and learning.
Baby-Safe Playdough Recipe
- 2½ Cups of Baking Soda
- 2 Cups of Water
- 1½ Cup of Cornstarch
- Food Coloring of Your Choice (optional)
- Measuring Cups
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- Medium Sauce Pan
- Wooden Spoon
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl (If using food coloring add to water before mixing with the other ingredients)
- Mix well with fork
- Place Mixture in a Sauce Pan
- Bring to a boil on Medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon
- Cook, stirring constantly until thick
- Let the Playdough cool
Note – Can be stored in an airtight container for reuse, no need to refrigerate
Cool Toy Ideas
Playdates minus creative toy ideas can sometimes be a little bland. See to it that you bring the right toys to this special occasion.
The toys don’t have to be expensive and fancy for babies to appreciate them. In fact, some of the most fun and appreciated toys are very inexpensive.
Below is a personal favorite, for 5 reasons:
- This toy is very durable
- Can also be played in the bath – they float
- They are fun to look at, textured, and “rattle” which stimulates their sight hearing and touch senses
- This toy is just plain fun. Babies love it.
Below is another excellent toy that more than one baby can enjoy. Put them side by side and watch as they explore and play with this multi-sensory toy. Isn’t it so cute!
Introduce your babies to melodies. This is a gratifying and easy way to relate with your little one. Music benefits the brain, brightens the mood, and promotes language skills.
Put on some friendly music and pass out rattlers or have some other “music-making” toys available.
Find the tones and rhythms they like and respond to- inspire them by playing along or clapping.
Here’s an interactive musical toy that will not only play classical music but also shows your baby visually, how the music is made.
Here’s another fun option. Combine this Spotify Instrumental Baby Playlist (opens in new window) with the rattlers below and your playdate will be so fun and exciting for the babies (parents too).
Structured activities are crucial in the development of babies. However, free play can be combined with structured play so to achieve more balance in their daily lives.
Parents should sometimes give the little one’s free rein to play however they want (with limitations of course). Let them roll around, mimic each other, explore their world and let their imaginations guide them.
You can always have a few rattlers and toys available, but sometimes babies will only be interested in what they’re interested in – and sometimes that’s just rolling and crawling around with each other.
Have fun, enjoy the moment take delight in watching your child interact.
Tips for a Successful Baby Playdate
The following pointers can help host-parents have a successful baby playdate.
Have Plenty of Wipes and Diapers
Prepare plenty of wipes and diapers and have them. You definitely don’t want to run out of these necessities during a baby playdate.
Playdates require snacks, but at this age, the other parents will probably bring their own bottles. It can be a good idea to have some different baby foods available but be sure to ask the other parents first.
One of the exciting things about a playdate is the opportunity for the youngsters to try and experience new things. Fruit juices can be a great idea, but it’s recommended to wait until the baby is 6 months old¹.
Set a Time Limit
Don’t make the playdate too long as the babies will start to get fussy and will need a nap after a while. Setting a time limit will leave the participants in a better mood, make them more manageable and have them excited when the next playdate comes along. They’ll have positive memories associated with the event. 1 – 2 hours is ideal for babies.
Set-up a Baby-Friendly Play Area
The play or activity area must be baby-friendly and clean. If possible, it should be carpeted or have some thick blankets or pads laid out.
Remove any sharp objects and appliances so the infants can crawl freely without any obstructions. As your baby and his or her playmates get older, it can be a good idea to set up different “stations” to help keep order.
For example, you could have one station for coloring, one for music, one for playdough and another for snacking. This helps to keep things organized in a sometimes chaotic environment.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
As parents, we all want our families and loved ones to be happy and in good physical shape. We want our children to be healthy with many friends and to engage in fun activities while growing up.
This is why many parents like the idea of playdates. Babies love playing with other babies but organizing and hosting a playdate does not always go as planned- things can get hectic.
To minimize this and to minimize stress just be prepared and try following these suggestions to make the next play date the best for your baby, for you, and for your guests. Remember to stay safe and have fun!
Over 14 years in special education with a BA in psychology. I work daily with children of all kinds, with a special focus on childhood development and play using music and play equipment among other tools.