How important are play dates for toddlers?

Play dates provide children with opportunities to practice important social and emotional skills. Children learn to share, take turns, and cooperate as they interact with each other. Play dates are also a great place for children to practice manners and learn how to communicate with one another. At this age, it is usually best to keep play dates relatively short (90 minutes to 2 hours) so children do not get overtired. It is also important to note that children will likely play side-by-side with their peers (a type of play called parallel play) rather than interact with their playmates, and that this is a developmentally appropriate type of play at this age. 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.