The Best Toddler Zoo Tips

A trip to the zoo can be a great outing with toddlers. First of all, it gets them out and about, and gives them some entertainment. Second, it can give mom and/or dad a break from having to keep them entertained. However, an outing like this can be stressful if you aren’t properly prepared. In fact, it can be an outright disaster. That’s why I have prepared a list of the best toddler zoo tips.

Toddler Zoo Tips –  #1 Dress Accordingly

Admittedly, I haven’t been to every zoo in the world. However, the ones I have been to have one thing in common: exposure. A zoo trip means you will be outside for a majority of your visit. Pay close attention to the weather. I recommend dressing in layers. A trip to the zoo will typically last a good portion of the day. Sometimes, it may be cooler in the morning and get warmer as the day goes on.

Toddler Zoo Tips

Toddler Zoo Tips – #2 Don’t Forget Sun Protection

Because a majority of your time will be spent outside, you will want to make sure you have protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Things you will want to make sure to bring are sunscreen, hats, and even sunglasses if your child will wear them. Also make sure to bring these items for yourself. I always recommend keeping sunscreen in your diaper bag or purse to reapply as needed.

Toddler Zoo Tips



Toddler Zoo Tips –  #3  Diapers, Pull-ups, and Extra Clothing

You will want to make sure you have plenty of diapers or pull-ups for your toddler. You will be out and about for a longer period of time and nobody wants to be caught with a “code brown” and no diapers. If your child is potty trained, or in the process, make sure to bring an extra change of clothing in case of accidents. Bathrooms may not always be nearby in an emergency. Also, an extra set of clothes never hurts to have on hand with toddlers. If there is a way to get messy, they will surely find it. Mud, puddles, dirt, food…if its there, they will get into it.

Toddler Zoo Tips

Toddler Zoo Tips – #4 Wet Wipes!

To go along with my last point about messy toddlers, you will definitely want supplies to clean them up. Wet wipes, or baby wipes, can be a super useful tool. You can wash dirty hands and faces in a pinch. They will allow you to make sure your child isn’t eating any unintended grime at meal and snack times. Wet wipes are great for cleaning up spills and messes as well. And obviously great for those “code brown” situations.

Toddler Zoo Tips


Toddler Zoo Tips – #5 Hydration

All the excitement, the fresh air, and the exercise tends to make for very thirsty toddlers. Its important to make sure you have drinks on hand for children. When the weather is especially warm, you will want to make sure you have plenty of water with you for you and your children. It can be useful to bring refillable bottles with you to lessen the weight of what you need to lug around. Most zoos will of course have a concession stand, or several, for you to purchase beverages. However, this route can become quickly expensive.

Toddler Zoo Tips

Toddler Zoo Tips – #6 Food and Eating

For frugal moms, the best tip I can give is to bring your own food with you on your zoo trip. Again, there will more than like be plenty of concession stands for you to purchase food, but that can end up costing a small fortune. I recommend packing a bag lunch for you and your children. There are usually plenty of picnic tables for you to have lunch with your family. You should also bring plenty of snacks. For whatever reason, being outside and walking around the zoo makes my toddler famished. He is constantly asking for a snack. I make sure to bring a variety of snacks for him to choose from.

If you do end up needing to purchase lunch from concessions, consider having toddlers split a meal. It can save money for you and cut down on food waste.

Toddler Zoo Tips

Toddler Zoo Tips – #7 Bring Some Cash

I always recommend bringing some cash along with you on zoo trips. You never know when you’ll need it. Sometimes, despite all your planning, you will need to purchase something from concessions. There may be a charge for parking. Maybe your child will fall in love with a certain souvenir. There are tons of scenarios where having a little bit of cash with you can be beneficial.

Toddler Zoo Tips

Toddler Zoo Tips – #8 Bring Wheels!

Zoos tend to be larger and spread out. That means a lot of walking for those little toddler legs. Kids can tire out quickly, and toddlers get heavy when you have to carry them for miles back to the car. Trust me, because this one I have learned from experience. I recommend always bringing a stroller or a wagon. It will be a life saver for when those little legs get worn out from walking. Also, they are super useful for carting around all the stuff you need to bring along. Diaper bags can get heavy. Strollers or wagons will give you a place to stash your stuff while you wander through and enjoy all the animals.

Toddler Zoo Tips

More Toddler Zoo Tips!

There are some other things to consider when you visit your local zoo. Plan around nap times when you can. If you don’t like crowds, you may want to plan on going during non-peak times, like when older children are in school. In my experience, animals are more active during the cooler months than they are in the dead heat of summer.

What are you best toddler zoo tips? Anything I missed? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

For more ideas on fun activities to do with your toddler or your whole family, click HERE.

Toddler Zoo Tips


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About Lisa Wingerter

I'm a 32 year old, married, stay-at-home-mom from the Metro Detroit area

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26 Comments on “The Best Toddler Zoo Tips”

  1. We are taking our 4 year old twin boys to the zoo for the first time this summer. Thanks for the tips and reminders! At four, we never know if we should bring a stroller or not but I think it is a must!

  2. I like to plan which animals were going to see. We have a membership, so I try to take the kid once a month with a plan: this visit, we’ll focus on Asia animal; next visit we’ll focus on the aviary; next monkey….
    That way we can focus, not run around like chickens with our heads cut off, and learn. Good post

  3. Planning a Zoo trip soon. Loved this list! You can NEVER be overprepared with a toddler or two or three in my case lol. Definetely emphasize the bring wheels tip! Little legs may want to run at first but they tire quickly!

    1. I relearned this the hard way last week. My son tired out at the back of the zoo and I had to carry a 40 lb toddler for MILES. I was exhausted and sweaty by the time we got to the car.

  4. Great tips if I ever take my nieces and nephew to the zoo, and even for when I have my own children! Very nicely laid out, too, easy to read and to the point.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, these are great tips for anyone lugging a toddler to the zoo. Long before I had my son, I took nieces and nephews. I always manage to forget something even to this day

  5. Great tips! It is almost too hot to go to teh zoo here but these tips are also great for our aquarium tips. One thing I have learned is taht an extra shirt is great to pack for me too, not just for the little one.

  6. Very good post, I will be visiting again the zoo with my daughter this year and we are excited. We had last year but she was too small then 18 months.

  7. Been there with the whole scheduling a nap at just the right time. This is a great reminder for moms and nannies of what is essential to bring.

    1. I had to write this post simply to remind MYSELF because I always forget something crucial. Last week it was the wheels and I ended up carrying a 40 lb tired toddler for MILES lol

  8. These are great tips! A lot of the time when we go to the zoo we see kids without hats on in the blazing sun. Just something as simple as a hat can really make the day more pleasant for everyone.

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