The zoo is a great place to visit with your toddler. The animals that they have only previously seen in books, magazines and on the TV suddenly right in front of them!

If you’re a parent of a toddler and are planning a trip to the zoo, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Being prepared by planning ahead will keep everyone happy and without the meltdowns that come by midmorning.

Check out these tips to make your zoo experience a happy one.

toddlers top tips for visiting the zoo with your tots and enjoying it

Top Tips for Visiting the Zoo with Your Little Ones

From about the age of 1 through to when they started school the zoo was a regularly trip for our family.

wolves in the snow at colchester zoo

We visited in snow, sun, and rain. With friends and on our own!

Here are some of the things that we have learned along the way that makes these trips much easier.

Purchase a Zoo Membership

Toddlers love the zoo, and if you ask them every other week if they’d love to go to the zoo, we can almost guarantee they’ll say yes.

toddler loving the zoo

Consider purchasing a zoo membership that pays for itself in just a few visits, and you can be sure that no trip to the zoo is the same.

Many zoos consider under 3’s free so check your local as the pass can really save you money.

Get There Early 

Toddlers tend to get fussy later on midday, or around their naptime.

Plan your visit earlier in the morning and before it starts getting hot. 

dad and toddlers at the zoo - no one else around

Our visits used to start as the zoo opened and we would virtually have it to ourselves till lunchtime.

Then we would leave just after a picnic lunch and they would nap in the car on the way home.

Don’t Forget the Push Chair 

Even if your toddlers prefer running around and getting as close to the animals as they can, within an hour or two, they’ll be complaining that their feet hurt.

Bring a buggy to avoid having to carry them, and it’s also a convenience to store other necessities underneath it.

don't forget the stroller at the zoo it comes in extra handy for little legs as well as carrying all your stuff

Extra clothes, picnic, and waterproofs as you never know when it will rain makes having the pushchair with you so much easier.

Wear the Right Shoes 

One of the last mistakes that you want to make with your kids, is dressing them in the wrong type of shoes.

Make sure that they are wearing comfortable play shoes along with socks to avoid any blisters or any discomfort.

toddlers watching the animals at the zoo

If it’s raining don’t do what I did and leave the wellington boots at home and go to the zoo with just a pair of canvas shoes.

One little tot with very wet feet, but they still kept walking and walking.

Bring Extra Clothing for Kids

You never know when there is a possibility your child might get wet, whether from an accident or a water exhibit.

Kids that have to sit in wet clothing will not go well for anyone. 

Pack a Lunch and Snacks

Most zoos allow you to bring your own lunch and snacks, and they have a few locations where you can sit down and enjoy a picnic.

Packing your own lunch and snacks will save you a ton of money, and you can easily store them under your stroller.

One of our favourite things to pack for a snack or picnic was some homemade pizza wheels. Perfect for a zoo trip with our kids.

Make It Educational 

Although a trip to the zoo is mostly to see animals, you should still include some teaching moments for your little ones.

mum pointing out animal facts and animals at the zoo to the toddlers

You don’t need to sit there and read each exhibit sign to them, but maybe pointing out a cool fact about each animal.

If you have a tot like mine then they can probably tell you facts you didn’t even know about them too!

toddler in awe of the animals in the zoo

Find Hands-on Exhibits 

While kids certainly love looking at their favorite zoo animals, after a while they may become bored or restless, especially if it’s a hot day.

Most zoos have a farm animals petting area and other hands-on exhibits that kids can get a close-up experience.

Break up your visit by visiting these locations.

Yes this may mean that you find yourself holding a giant cockroach or being followed by a goat but it is all fun.

Have a Plan for the Gift Shop 

If you aren’t planning on purchasing anything at the zoo’s gift shop, it will certainly be in your best interest to avoid walking anywhere near there.

Some zoo locations are clever and make the gift shop the only exit! They do at our local one!

Tell your kids ahead of time that you don’t plan on buying anything and move through the gift shop quickly.

If you are planning on buying your kiddos a little something but don’t want to spend a lot of money, steer them towards toys and souvenirs that you’re willing to pay for. 

toddler trips - top tips for visiting the zoo

Activities for After a Zoo Visit

Why not continue the fun with some activities and crafts to do with your toddlers once you return from the zoo.

Easy Toddler Paper Plate Lion Craft to Make
diy monkey puppets for play and rhymes with toddlers
feed the lion counting game for toddlers and preschoolers

More Tips for Visiting Places with Toddlers

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10 Top tips for you and your toddlers at the beach. Plus bonus activities to do with them whilst you are there and then even more when you return
parenting tips visiting the zoo with your toddlers
Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

11 Comments

  1. We went to the zoo today too. You are so right that its good for language and counting – counted the giraffes today. Its also amazing for gross motor and stamina – Goblin managed to walk around the zoo for 5 hours (I don’t think he’s ever walked for that long before).

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