Great Daddy and Baby Dates
Dads do things differently—there's no doubt about it! From grocery stores to poker games, dads can make anything fun! Here are 10 ideas for daddy dates your little one is sure to love.
Let the Games Begin
Soccer games, Little League® baseball, and college football are all baby-friendly, make-dad-happy ways to share a day with Baby. Scott Mactavish, author of The New Dad’s Survival Guide, looks for events in stadiums with open space. “I can lay out a blanket and let the boys go nuts without disturbing the other soccer fans in the area,” he says. “Even the littlest ones love this idea because they can role play without being stuck in a stroller or backpack.”
P-P-P Poker Face
Show Lady Gaga what a poker face really looks like, Dad. As a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, Gary Greenberg used his comic talent to captivate his daughter when she was still in diapers. In Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads, Greenberg suggests a deck of cards as a great way stimulate a newborn’s vision. Spread several cards out and hold them to your baby’s face and fan her with them. Babies will enjoy looking at the contrasting colors. (Just don’t let the other players see your hand.)
Who doesn’t love the zoo? But dads can make it more exciting by putting their own spin on it. Where else can you marvel at a camel’s ability to spit long distances? Your own drooler may be jealous. “It’s fun to hold the baby at eye-level and watch your baby’s reaction to the baboons throwing poo at each other,” says Mactavish. And you can be happy it’s one mess you won’t have to clean up. For a cheap, convenient alternative to the zoo, Greenberg suggests you take your little one to your local pet store. With many stores allowing owners to bring their own dogs, pet stores can be an exciting place on the weekends.
Rock the Carrier
Look for local concerts in your area for a casual (baby) date. “This is a great place to let your toddler burn off sugar and dance with other 2-feet-tall people,” says Mactavish, who rocks his children back and forth in the stroller to the music or dances with them while they’re carried in a baby backpack or carrier.
Day at the Museum
Skip the fine art museum and head to a local museum instead. Local museums are often inexpensive or even free, and you probably won’t get the same sideways glares you would at the art museum when your toddler gives an occasional scream (you can hear it right now, can’t ya, Dad?). For example, try your local children’s museum or nature center. Both often have hands-on areas geared toward children—and curious dads.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish...
We’re not talking Dr. Seuss here. A baby backpack, fishing rods, a chair, and some nightcrawlers (aka worms) can make for a relaxing morning for Dad and Junior. Demonstrate how to put the wiggly worm on the hook (definitely a job most moms want to leave to Dad).
(Little) Man Stores
Sporting goods stores and home improvement superstores—dads could probably spend hours here even without a baby in tow. Give dads the excuse to check out the latest riding lawnmower, and we’re sure your little one will enjoy the trip, too. “The bright lights and the high ceilings are hypnotizing,” says Mactavish. Plus, some stores have special carts for children—some with race car fronts and steering wheels. Just remember, no speeding in the paint section!
Talkin' About the Car Wash
Babies love sounds and movement—so why not a date to the car wash? “Before you enter, give her cues that this is going to be a safe, fun experience for the both of you,” says Greenberg. Explain that the car has to take a bath. Better yet, bring some cereal and go to a drive-up oil change place. You can have your oil changed while you and your charge enjoy the healthy snack, then watch the sprayers and brushes in the car wash. Now that’s multitasking to make a mother proud.
Food for Thought
Daddy dates don’t have to be dramatic—even the grocery store can hold excitement. Like the home improvement center, look for race car carts and let your toddler have fun pretending to drive you around. Greenberg adds that you shouldn’t miss shower time in the produce section—whether your store has automated misters or the producer workers spray the vegetables by hand, it’s fun for kids of all ages.
On a (Slightly) Serious Note
Remember that the date should be enjoyable for both of you. If your child seems squeamish or downright miserable, “Be prepared to bail,” advises Mactavish. Not every event that’s fun for Dad will translate into a hit with your baby or toddler. “Do what you like to do and the baby will sense your enthusiasm. Be judicious, however. If you enjoy mud wrestling or cockfights, you may want to leave Junior at home with Mommy.”
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