January Playdate Ideas by Age

 In Featured, Lifestyle, Resources

Play dates are like gold to both parents and children alike.  At every age & stage your child goes through, a play date can help them (and you!) navigate the adventures of childhood and parenting.

Each month, we’ll bring you the best seasonal playdate ideas for bringing infants, babies, toddlers & their families together to play, learn, and grow. Here are our top picks for January:

Infant (0-6 months):

Infant playdates with other mothers and their babies are mostly about mom building the tribe that she’ll need to lean on over the coming years. A network of girlfriends that “get you” is the goal: ladies with shared motherhood experiences that you can confide in & depend on as we all navigate motherhood. Get together with neighborhood moms and share stories, time, and coffee while the babies nap.

Coffee date – Try your best to schedule a coffee date at around the time your infant usually snoozes. If you live within walking distance, pop your babe into the stroller or carrier, and take a leisurely stroll to meet your tribe for some much-needed coffee and adult conversation.

Tummy time play date – Floor time is one of the Tummy time for infants is so important for muscle development and fine and gross motor skill building, but most babies doesn’t tolerate it well, at least not at first. The friendly support of other mothers and their babies can help you get through even the fussiest of times.

Story time – It’s never too early for babies to hear stories, explore the vivid imagery in books, and discover the covers and pages of books – even if it means mouthing them! Infants explore, discover, and learn in a variety of ways, and books with sturdy pages and geometrical black & white illustrations are perfect for this age. Some infant-worthy books that we love are Indestructibles, a line of baby books that will stand up to both drool and curious hands, and Baby Talk, a board book with black & white geometrical images and families from many cultures that are perfect for stimulating and engaging infants.

Baby (6-18 months):

While babies are still playing and discovering independently or side-by-side, they will benefit from being exposed to other babies, families, toys, and experiences.

Obstacle courses – Babies who are just starting to crawl or walk can exercise their new skills in their very own obstacle course. Lay down crawl tunnels (or pop-up hampers with the bottom cut out as a cheap and easy tunnel hack), empty boxes that have been opened on both ends, and pillows of different sizes. Babies of all ages can crawl, walk, climb and jump to their heart’s content!

Tissue paper fun – Save the tissue paper from your holiday gift giving, and let babies go at it! Work on baby’s fine motor skills by tearing up paper. This activity will help them build strength in their hands, gearing them up for success with holding writing utensils, manipulating objects, and taking care of their own buttons and zippers later on. Adhere torn paper to cardboard letter cut outs, make abstract art, create a collage… the possibilities with torn tissue paper are endless.

Fill and dump Filling and dumping containers is captivating for babies.  Gather up a variety of cups, buckets, containers, shovels and spoons, and set up stations with pourable (and baby friendly) items.  Pompoms, water, cheerios, or small sized figurines or toys (anything that doesn’t pose a choking hazard) will do. Invite some friends over, model for the children how to play at each station, and let them fill and dump to their hearts’ content.

Toddler (18 months – 3 years):

Toddlers begin to enjoy each other’s company, and this is the perfect time to introduce interactive activities and games. Toddlers are learning how to act and react, and play dates are the perfect way to hone these skills.

Silk ScarvesSilk Scarves are a ton of fun for babies and toddlers alike. The ways they float through the air, feel on the skin, and travel across surfaces are mesmerizing, to say the least. There are so many ways to explore with silk scarves that are fun and beneficial for toddlers’ development, like working on hand-eye coordination by throwing and catching, stretching imaginations in dramatic play, and exercising engineering in fort building.

Edible Necklace Making –What would a play date be without snack time?  Your little and their tiny friends can make edible necklaces and practice their fine motor skills by stringing their snacks. Don loopy cereal, pretzels, gummy circles, cookies or other round snacks with a hole in the middle and make a delicious and fun accessory for play time!

Have a “Block Party” – We recently shared the Benefits of Block Play for Toddlers, and being cooped up inside during the winter makes for a fantastic time to gather some friends for a “block party”. One of the most important things children will learn through block play is cooperation and working together towards a common goal, so blocks are perfect for play dates.

Alison DuBois-Eker
Alison is a mother to a young girl and a teacher of English as a New Language to young children from around the world living in New York City. She has studied Linguistics, Multicultural Education, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and is currently studying Early Childhood Education at New York University. She loves bringing the world into the lives of children through exposure to language and culture.   In her spare time, Alison enjoys traveling, being outdoors, cooking, crafting, and exploring New York City with her family.  She also writes for her own blog at www.peaceloveandliteracy.com
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