Babies come with a lot of decisions that need to be made fairly quickly. For example, when you were pregnant with Baby, some time between coming up with a birth plan and jotting down baby names, there’s a good chance you also took some time to decide the best choice for childcare. Would Baby stay at home, or go to daycare?
While daycare has its drawbacks (hello, germs!), it also comes with many positives – and one of the biggest ones is socialization. This may leave parents of children who stay home during the day wondering if their children will have the same social skills as other children their age who attend daycare.
What it means to be socialized
Toddlers in their first few years of life often don’t understand the concepts of sharing or taking turns quite yet, so what exactly should you strive for in terms of socialization around this age? Basically, you’ll want Baby to start to get used to playing with and around other children, and to learning from new situations. Another goal of socialization at this age is to encourage communication.
How to do this without daycare
- Get-togethers: Whether it’s a family party or a playdate, the most important element of getting Baby socialized is for her to be around other people. At family functions, there are often people of a range of different ages, which is a great way for Baby to see how adults and children behave. When watching an adult, Baby may try to imitate the actions she sees, which encourages creative play. With children closer to her own age, she will not fully be prepared to “socialize,” so don’t be surprised if Baby gets upset or even lashes out over something like a toy being snatched away. Instead, use the opportunity to redirect Baby, and gently remind her of the appropriate reaction.
- Playgrounds: If you’re new to an area and don’t yet have friends or family nearby, you can always try to venture out to the local playground. The park offers a great opportunity to meet other parents with children around the same age to set up future playdates. Playing at the park also gives you the opportunity to remind Baby of appropriate social skills, like waiting her turn for the swing – even if she isn’t quite happy to wait her turn quite yet.
- Classes: Even if Baby isn’t in daycare, that doesn’t mean she can’t be in the classroom! Storytime at the library or even music classes are great for helping
Baby learn with other children. Most programs offered at this age are for parents and children, and your presence will help Baby feel more comfortable in a new environment. Another advantage to classroom settings is that Baby will learn to the take instructions from another adult – the instructor.
A toddler who goes to daycare may spend more time with other children than many children who are not enrolled in daycare, but that doesn’t mean she necessarily going to be more well-socialized than a toddler who spends her days at home. The key to keeping Baby’s socialization growing is to get out, explore new environments, and meet new people of all ages. If you continue broadening her horizons, soon you’ll see Baby break out of her cocoon and transform into a true social butterfly.