A beginner’s guide to kiddie playdates

New to the playdating scene? Here's how to navigate those first few playdates, whether you're hosting or a first-time guest.

Playdates are a rite of passage for any kid, and an important way for them to learn social skills, figure out how to share, embrace imaginative play, and form their first friendships.

As a parent new to the playdating world, here are a few pointers to help you navigate your little one’s social life with ease.


Are they ready?

Most children start forming friendships around the age of 3, so this is a good age to set up their first playdate.


Who do you ask?

Easy: Whomever your kid wants to play with, or any child who asks for a playdate. But before you accept, make sure it’s a friend that your child enjoys spending time with. Don’t force them to play with someone they don’t get on with… It won’t end well!


How long should the playdate be?

This depends on your child’s age. Toddlers can usually handle up to two hours before they become screaming banshees, but older children can go longer. If it’s a first playdate though, less is probably more. That way you can keep them keen for the next one!


Should I stay or should I go?

In the beginning, you’ll most likely want to attend playdates with your little one. Then, once you feel comfortable doing so, when you know the other parent well enough, and are certain your child will be fine on his or her own, you’ll be able to do a ‘drop and go’ (giving you a few blissful hours to yourself!).


Be the host with the most

For your child’s first playdate at home, here are a few pointers to consider:

  • To avoid potential fallouts or tantrums, pack away your child’s most precious toys.
  • Set out toys that encourage pretend play and plenty of interaction between the two ‘playdaters’. below are our recommendations for the best toys to set out.
  • Consider a themed afternoon, if, for example, a big holiday is coming up. Check out our Pinterest board, Arts and Crafts, for some really lovely, easy crafts suitable for all age groups.
  • Don’t supervise things too much – let the kids decide how they want to spend their time.


Our fave playdate toys:

If they love cars, trucks & trains

1 City Builders Construction Set, 3 years+ ($17.99)  2 Busy City Vehicles & Signs, 3 years+ ($17.99)  3 Pull-Back Derby Racers (3-Pack), 3 years+ ($13.99)  4 Stock Car Speedway Playset, 1 year+ ($34.99)  5 100-Piece Wooden Train Set, 3 years+ ($49.99).


If they love cooking in the play kitchen


1 Super Sandwich Set, 3 years+ ($21.99)  2 Grill ‘n Fill BBQ Barbecue Playset, 3 years+ ($19.99)  3 Traveling Pancake House, 3 years+ ($21.99)  4 Rise ‘n Shine Pod Coffeemaker Playset, 3 years+ ($24.99)  5 Slice and Share Picnic Basket, 3 years+ ($39.99)


If they love role play & using their imaginations

1 Saddle Up Barn & Stable, 3 years+ ($59.99)  2 Dr Maple’s Medical Kit, 3 years+ ($24.99)  3 Rinse & Repair Car Wash and Service Station, 3 years+ ($34.99)  4 Helping Hands Hospital, 3 years+ ($59.99)


And if you and your child are playdate guests:

  • Be punctual for both the start and end of the playdate.
  • Pack snacks if your child has food allergies or special dietary requirements.
  • Help to tidy up afterwards (roping the kids in too of course!).
  • Don’t expect the host family to have the same house rules as you do, and be okay with this, just as you’d want them to respect your house rules.
  • Offer to host the next one.


For more ideas on hosting great playdates, visit our Pinterest board, Perfect Playdates.


Guest post by Pippa Naude.