It is so important to socialize toddlers during quarantine.
Socialization is critical for toddlers’ cognitive and language development. Babies are social creatures. From the time they are born, infants are looking for their caregiver’s eyes. Within the first few weeks of life, they develop a social smile which forms the basis for future communication.
Socialization during a pandemic
With so much focus on the return to school buildings, not much has been said about our little people. Although the risk of infection and the need for hospitalization with COVID-19 is much lower in children, infants under 1-year-old are at particularly high risk. In addition, young children can become infected and can carry the illness to others in the community while they are asymptomatic.
As the transmission rates begin to decrease, many families are feeling ready to join “pods” (or a consistent group of familiar families) to help socialize toddlers during quarantine. Others aren’t quite ready to bring their children into social groups during quarantine. The quarantine has placed limitations on your baby’s ability to socialize in real life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t socialize your toddler during the quarantine. You can continue to help your child develop important social milestones virtually or IRL by following these 4 ways to socialize toddlers during quarantine.
1. Improve socialization with eye contact
Maybe you aren’t ready to bring your baby out into the world yet…and that’s okay! One of the best ways to improve your child’s social skills during quarantine is to provide lots of eye contact during tummy time. There are plenty of ways to continue developing social skills at home. You can set the baby up on a boppy pillow with a mirror in front. Then, sit behind the baby and make faces for your little one to imitate. Next, get on the other side of the mirror to play peek-a-boo. Encouraging eye contact with your little one is a great way to promote socialization during quarantine.
2. Socialize with other toddler friends on a park date
Some of you may be ready to get out of the house. Many local organizations are now having small classes outside, so take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and head to the park. When socializing with toddlers, aim for groups of 5 children or less so that you can let your child move freely while also socially distancing. Look for classes that will engage your child’s senses, such as music, gymnastics, or forest school/nature play. Allowing your toddler to be in a more naturalistic environment with other kids is a great way to encourage both socialization and language development.
3. Socialize with family using FaceTime
Technology provides a great way for your toddler to socialize with family members. Even though you may not be able to see family and friends in real life during the pandemic, FaceTime and other video messaging apps are a great way to socialize for children over 6 months of age. As a bonus, FaceTiming is not a part of the AAP guidelines for screentime. Set up a rotating schedule with family, but remember to keep expectations in check: babies under 18 months can focus for 2-3 minutes, while babies over 2 can focus for 4-5 minutes.
4. Improve socialization for toddlers (and parents!) by joining an online community
With the pandemic came a whole new vocabulary centered around Zooming and many services have brought themselves online, including me! I love being able to work with families in real life, but at this time, due to the closeness of interactions required for speech and language therapy, I have opted to continue to work virtually. This has been a great opportunity for me to focus on coaching services that teach parents to optimize language and learning in toddlers while everyone is quarantined together.
I am happy to provide targeted speech and language coaching combined with a supportive community of parents. To learn more, join my next live webinar!
For more support in helping to socialize your child during quarantine, set up a free 15-minute consult. Then, we can discuss your child’s current milestones and goals.
If you are looking for more support, join the waitlist for the Tiny Talker Toolkit–a 6-week coaching journey with a speech therapist in your pocket and a supportive community of parents like you. Follow me on Instagram for the latest updates.