From day one, you and baby both benefit from having friends. When your child is an enfant playdates are more about mothers bonding. Babies may sleep through most of the first playdates, but they benefit from being exposed to new toys, a new environment and other babies being nearby. Babies are born fascinated with other children and they learn from watching them.
Choose fun Mom friends. If your friends don't have children yet, join a play group through Mothers of Preschoolers or take a mommy and me class at a community center. Seek out women who bring you up and not down. Find moms with similar parenting philosophies. If you are not clicking with your group, it's okay to split off with one or tow other mothers or move on to another group completely.
Be a happy host. Map your get togethers around naptime to ensure babies won't be cranky. Set the scene by laying out toys in a babyproofed room. If you're prepping snacks, ask ahead if anyone has food allergies. Keep an eye on your child and manage expectations. If you sense a meltdown coming, start packing up toys. The playdate is winding down.
Learning to share for children can be a difficult process, so it's up to you to keep the peace. Children really don't understand that playing nicely until age two, but you should start modeling sharing. If a fight breaks out over a toy, distraction can be the key to restoring the peace. If your child or another child pushes, bites or hits, take action promptly.
For more tips on being a playdate-pro and other parenting tips, click here.
Laura Kalehoff & Erika Wortham