Here Comes Your Toddler's Birthday! Now Read This!
It’s time to amp up your creativity skills and make your toddler’s birthday work. You don’t have to pull out the stops — careful not to overwhelm — and remember, it’s not easy social distancing with 2 - 5 year olds. A successful birthday for toddlers is definitely possible though — in your backyard or at a local park.
If there’s ever been a time for thinking outside of the box, it is now. Bear in mind: toddlers want two things: fun learning and to stay busy.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
In my opinion as a mom, toddlers are the coolest part of the human population. They are in the intricate phase of soaking up information, grappling with fine motor skills, testing boundaries, becoming expressive and developing personality. Your primary focus should be on keeping your guests safe as they explore the party around them. Meanwhile, they are like free-spirited, fearless beings who will keep you on the edge of your seat.
So with planning your toddler’s birthday party, it’s important to remember that toddlers are experiencing just as much emotional development as they are cognitive growth. Take a deep breath before taking on any toddler-related project; it is very likely that one minute a toddler will appear delighted, and the next minute it may seem as if his entire world is crashing down. Mood swings are totally the norm.
According to Kidcentraltn.com (a site that helps Tennessee families connect with important information and resources for children) there are many reasons why toddlers will “act out.”
Emotional ups and downs are related to toddlers feeling confused and/or frustrated by a situation. When young children experience ‘big feelings,’ they often do not have the language needed to express their worries or fears. You will need to be extra observant of all the toddlers at your party to keep things steady.
Since toddlers react emotionally, keep your guest count small, and invite moms or dads to come, too. If there’s an emotional snafu, your toddler guest will need comforting. Plan on an hour-and-a-half party. That’s plenty for merriment without meltdown.
Remember that toddlers are like puppies: they don’t need much to get excited. And they don’t need a huge play space. Have a few assorted toddler snacks like goldfish and fresh fruit cut into pieces, juice boxes, and of course, a cake or cupcakes and some ice cream. Keep decorations simple, such as balloons and party blowers and provide a small party favor at the end for your toddler to hand out.
Knowing that toddlers can have swift mood swings and that they require lots of attention and exploration can help you as you plan.
Also, remember that the way you react to little children can make or break the toddler fun, so put your party hat on gently. Children under the age of 5 rely on trusted adults to co-regulate. Be present and close by, observe and respond with a calm tone of voice, and be ready to offer choices when possible.
Now you’re ready to host your toddler party!
TODDLER PARTY GAMES
TREASURE HUNT: Designate space for hiding “treasures,” like small toys, candy or anything age-appropriate and provide fun clues to “help” the little ones find the treasure. Promote fun and keep the tots happy.
MUSICAL CHAIRS: Music is great for toddlers’ sensory and it will liven up your party. Use fun songs for musical chairs. The number of chairs used is always one short of the total number of children participating and decreases as kids are bumped out of the game when the music stops.
PAINTING: Remember to ask guests to bring an old shirt to wear over their outfit. Cover the ground with old sheets and dropcloths. Provide paper, paints and easy templates.
BALLOON TOSS: An outside activity, kids love tossing jiggly balloons to each other, and it’s oh-so-fun to watch them pop!
JELL-O MASH: Prepare a bowl of Jell-O for each guest, and have them place assorted inanimate objects in their bowl. Ask kids what it feels like. Encourage them to compare how one object feels from another. Toddlers love to make a mess and use their hands.
PUPPET SHOW: It’s time to go old school and to bring imaginations to life. Draw faces on brand-new pairs of socks, or, find affordable hand puppets online. Perform a show with Q&As, and allow the toddlers to touch the puppets at the conclusion of the show.