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Isla and Max hang out.

You’re going stir crazy and need to get out of the house, but you’ve already been to Target one too many times this week. It’s time to schedule a play date.

Does the thought of another child spitting up on your carpet, pulling your cat’s tail and teething on your furniture terrify you? After all, it’s bad enough your own kid does this stuff! No need to panic. Follow these basic rules for hosting a baby play date and you may even feel like inviting more than one child over next time!

1. Timing, Timing, Timing: If your children are all under a year old, they’re still taking two naps a day. Scheduling a play date that conflicts with these naps is a recipe for disaster. Check with the mom of the other child to find out when nap time is, consider your own child’s nap time and plan accordingly. This may mean a quick hour-and-a-half play date at 3pm, but at least everyone will be well rested and happy!

2. Provide a Clean, Safe Environment: Every baby is different in their methods of exploration. Assume the worst of your child’s potential play mate. Plan on this kid bumping into and climbing up on everything you own, and then baby proof accordingly. I recommend clearing out a large area (remove coffee tables, lamps, etc.) and making it baby zone. Lay down a padded play mat or carpet and plenty of toys. Here is a short checklist to stick to:

  • Cover all outlets
  • Put up gates at all staircases
  • Provide a large variety of toys—small hand-held items, push toys, balls, noisy toys, etc.
  • If you have hardwood floors, invest in a cushioned play mat.Remove or secure any items that can be pulled down such as a floor lamp or wine rack.

3. Make the Mommies Comfortable, Too: Remember who this play date is really for—you and your friends! Have a pitcher of lemonade and some homemade brownies ready for the adults (any snack will do). Create a play list on your iPod to have streaming in the background and pull up a couple comfy chairs. You’ll be spending the majority of your time chasing your kid, but when things are relatively calm, it will be nice to relax and chat.

4.  Be Prepared for Anything: The adults aren’t the only ones who need a snack. Be sure to have a variety of baby-friendly snacks around for hungry kids (rice cakes, puffs, yogurt, mum mums, bananas, etc.). This is the best way to avoid a baby meltdown.

You should also be prepared for any accidents. Even though you’ve baby proofed, kids still tumble down. Keep your first aid kit stocked with band-aids, Neosporin and baby Tylenol. It’s not a bad idea to have some frozen waffles in your freezer for the cranky, teething baby, either.

Keep your changing table clutter-free, clean and ready to go as well. It’s not just your baby who will be using it.

5. Chill Out: Kids are rough on each other. And when they’re only nine or 10 months old, they tend to climb on top of one another, pull each other’s hair, grab toys out of each other’s hands and even steal food. Don’t panic if it’s YOUR kid who is doing these things. At this age, they don’t know it’s wrong. They are exploring their world and are going to go for whatever they can get their grubby little paws on! The other parent will understand. And if they don’t, just wait five minutes and it will be their child who is stealing toys and pulling hair!