If you’re planning on bringing your toddler to the Zoo, here are a few ways to make sure they have a WILD time!
Get your toddler excited about their upcoming adventure to the zoo by talking and singing about all the creatures they’ll encounter. Some great books about zoo animals that kids will enjoy include 'Dear Zoo', 'Peppa Pig: At The Zoo' and 'Who’s At The Zoo?' by Julia Donaldson, the author of The Gruffalo (who you hopefully won’t meet wondering round).
If they love fancy dress and have any animal outfits, they’d really look the part if they’re in costume. Plus, if you go at a special time of year such as Easter, Halloween or Christmas, it’s an excuse to get dressed up in their best holiday outfits. We went to an Easter event over the school break and I was mortified that I was the only parent that had neglected to buy my children bunny ears!
It’s definitely a good idea to lower your expectations about how the day will go if it’s your first time bringing your little one. We all know toddlers are fascinated by funny things, so don’t presume they’ll be interested in the same things as adults or older kids. The last time we were in Dublin Zoo there was a group of toddlers (my son included) that all thought that climbing and dancing on a large rock by the giraffes was the best thing since sliced bread!
And talking of sliced bread, make sure you bring some in the form of sandwiches. Fillings that will survive the heat if it’s warm are a good idea, or if you’re super organised and want to keep everything fresh you could bring a cooler bag. Ice creams and coffees are always a lovely treat for the 3 o’clock slump, but when you have starving kids you don’t want to queue for ages and then find out they don’t like what’s on offer.
In fact, if you and your kids hate queues as much as me, then make sure you buy your tickets online before you go. You’ll often get a better rate, and you’ll fly through the entrance gates and get a head start on the crowds.
There’s always so much to see and do at a zoo (especially now all the playgrounds are open too) that it will undoubtedly be a tiring day for everyone. If you have a toddler that you think will get worn out, make sure you bring the buggy with you. It’s frustrating pushing it around when they initially want to sprint everywhere, but they will run out of energy eventually and you don’t want to have to carry them all the way back to the car. On the positive side, buggies are great for carrying things - you can throw in raincoats, bottles of water and even your picnic. I actually think we’re going to struggle to hold everything once we stop bringing one on our day trips!