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 – #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 – #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 – #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 – #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 – #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 – #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 – #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.
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.