Top Tips for Introducing Your Toddler to the Library

Top Tips for Introducing Your Toddler to the Library
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Our local library has a wonderful storytime schedule that rotates through different seasonal themes. Storytime is 45 minutes, which includes a couple of stories, songs, finger plays, and a simple craft. The children's area at the library is beautifully decorated with bright colors and a puppet show theater. Yet, even with all these “we welcome children at the library” accommodations, my children still managed to get kicked out of the library. It was probably my fault. I had all three kids with me – ages 5, 3, and 18 months. We went to storytime and then wandered around the children's area, looking for books. They each picked out a book and a movie and were finally ready to go.

I was attempting to check out the books with the self-checkout computer. We had overdue fines that I was trying to pay with my credit card. All three of them were hanging all over me and chasing each other by the entrance. Before I knew it, the male librarian came up to me and said, “I think you need to be heading on your way now.” I was furious and frustrated. If it weren't for the stupid self-checkout, I could have paid my fine and checked out quickly. So, I grabbed all three, left my books at the checkout counter, and stormed out. The less-than-patient man could have asked me if I needed some assistance with checkout instead of running us out.

Not every trip to the library with your toddler will be without fail, but here are some tips to help you have a fun time with your little one in the land of books.

reading-baby
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Plan Your Trip Around Your Child's Schedule

In order to avoid naptime meltdowns or a hungry toddler that demands a snack in a no-eating-zone, plan your outing to the library around naps, snacks, and meals. Pack a few snacks just in case your child starts to ask for a snack. Then you can leave the library to have a snack and head back in when snack time is done.

{ MORE: How We Raised Kids Who Love Reading }

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Set a Time Limit

As a parent of a toddler, you very well know that little ones simply cannot sit in any one spot, let alone be fairly quiet. Prior to going into the library, set a time limit that you want to spend there and stick to it. Even if your toddler is acting like a sweet angel and you have reached the time you set, his or her behavior can go south at any time. Without warning, they may fall to the floor and start crying, so get out while things are going well.

{ MORE: 8 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child Colors }

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Talk About the Library Rules

While in the car and walking into the library, talk to your toddler about the rules of the library. Use kid-friendly language such as “soft voices” and “quiet hands.” Keep the terms you use consistent with each trip and soon they will be repeating them after you.

{ MORE: The Never Home Stay-at-Home Mom }

first trip to library
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Lower Your Expectations

Your first few trips to the library with your toddler may be a bit of a mess. If you set expectations low, you won't feel disappointed that it was time wasted. As your child becomes familiar with the library rules and routine, it will become easier. Don't expect to be able to leisurely browse for novels to read though.

If you plan to check out a book for yourself, do your research ahead of time and bring your list with you. Better yet, call the librarian and have him or her set aside a few books you are interested in. By planning ahead, you will be able to get the books you want without having to feel stressed that your toddler is running wild through the library.

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Image via flickr/ San Jose Library

Read Books About Going to the Library

Prior to your toddler's first trip to the library, purchase or borrow a few books about going to the library. Here are a few of my favorites:

Maisy Goes to the Library: A Maisy First Experience Book

Corduroy Goes to the Library

Tiny Goes to the Library

Library Lion

{ MORE: 8 Top Picks of Favorite Books for Toddlers }

Have you ventured out to the library with your little one yet?

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Top Tips for Introducing Your Toddler to the Library

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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