Baby’s First Trip to the Zoo

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I couldn’t wait for Little E’s first trip to the zoo!

I am absolutely animal-obsessed. In my youth, I was very torn between an animal-based career and a child-based one…but kids won out in the end. That being said, I still do as much as I can to feed my animal obsession. And I especially love it when I can combine the two. Teaching kids all about the animal world is one of my absolute favorite things.

So even during my pregnancy, I couldn’t stop dreaming about all the fun Little E and I would have at the zoo!

It also helps a bunch that we live by arguably the best zoo in the country (and a top world competitor, too), The San Diego Zoo. We live about halfway between the Zoo and their sister park, The Safari Park. A year membership pays itself off in just 2 visits, and kids under 3 are free…so we have amazing year-round access to these wonderful and high-quality zoos! (You can purchase tickets or memberships here.)

Planning baby's first trip to the zoo? What to bring with you, what to do when you're there, and more! |

When Should I Take Baby To the Zoo?

We took Little E on his first trip to the zoo when he was just three months old. He pretty much slept the entire time. Although he did get very excited when we stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, haha!

So in this post, I will actually be referring more to Little E’s second trip to the zoo, when he was about four months old.

It’s crazy how much of a difference one month (really even just a week!) makes for a baby’s development!

On our second trip to the zoo, Little E was interested in things that moved and made noise, and he really enjoyed looking at the different sights and sounds around him.

If you are wondering what a good age for baby to go to the zoo is, I would answer that any time after they have gotten their first set of shots is a good time.

Younger babies, around 2 and 3 months old, will not be able to enjoy the animals very much, but there are still good reasons to go the zoo at this age:

  • Mom and Dad can get out and have some fun
  • Baby’s development is enhanced when exposed to different environments
  • It’s healthy for baby to be in the fresh air and sunlight

If you would like baby to be a bit more involved in his first trip to the zoo, this seems to happen more around 4 months. 6 months seems to be the magical number for many things, and may also be a fantastic age for a trip to the zoo.

The bottom line, though, is that any age is a good age for a trip to the zoo with baby! Just know that different ages will involve different things.

I will be writing this post from the perspective of a trip with a 4-6 month old, but I will add in some tips for younger or older babies when relevant.

What Do I Need To Pack?

There are a couple things that are must-haves for a trip to the zoo:

  • A Stroller

Zoos often have strollers for rent, but these are for toddlers or older infants. When taking a young infant, you will need an appropriate stroller. We have loved our Graco Roadmaster travel system. It is small enough that it fits in the back of our Prius when folded up, and it’s narrow enough that I can maneuver it easily in tight places. It also has a nice big pocket on the bottom and two cup holders up top. The best thing about it is that it will grow with Little E! I also chose this stroller because it can be used as a jogging stroller once baby is 6 months or older.

  • A Fully Stocked Diaper Bag

Be sure to have a diaper bag that is fully stocked with your normal essentials – diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, etc. Curious what normal essentials should be in your diaper bag? Check out what we pack in our diaper bag.

  • Feeding Necessities

If you are breastfeeding, be sure to bring a nursing cover. Not quite comfortable breastfeeding in public, yet? Read about these tips and tricks for making public breastfeeding a breeze!

If you are using formula, be sure to bring all you need for a couple feedings. Gauge how much you will need on how long you will be there. The easiest way is to assemble 2-3 bottles with dry formula in them. Then, bring along some boiled water (bottled water is not usually sterile, so it is always safer to use boiled water) in a water bottle to add to the bottles when needed.

If baby is eating solids already, you may want to pack some baby food in a cooler or insulated lunch bag. I have loved the PackIt Freezable Lunch Sack! It has freezable gel built into it, so you don’t have to add an ice pack. It also folds up for easy storage in the freezer when not in use.

  • Sun Protection

Getting some sunshine (even without sunscreen or other protection) is actually healthy for your little one! Vitamin D and an emotional boost are just some of the benefits.

That being said, you don’t want your little one to get a sunburn during your trip to the zoo. So bring along some sun protection.

I have really liked using Babyganics sunscreen stick. It is easy to apply and has done a good job of protecting Little E’s skin. The best part is that it is free of chemicals or other ingredients that have been found to be carcinogens!

I also suggest bringing a carseat canopy. You can use the code FABULESS1 to get a FREE carseat canopy here! Canopies offer a bit more shade than the stroller’s shade structure, and they can also give baby a bit of escape from the world around if he is getting overwhelmed.

There are also some additional things that will make your trip to the zoo more enjoyable:

What to Bring on Baby's First Trip to the Zoo |

  • Soothing Items

Bring along with you those items that help soothe baby. Little E does best with his WubbaNub – a pacifier with a tiny stuffed animal attached to it. We were sure to bring 2 with us…you never know when one will fall on the ground or (please no!) get lost.

We also brought a few teething toys with us. Our favorite has been the Teething Egg (not an affiliate link). Little E loves to rub it on his gums.

  • Things for When It Gets Cold

If there is any possibility of cold weather, be sure to prepare. Bring a cozy blanket or two, a hat, and a jacket for your little one.

  • Things to Make Your Life Easier

My favorite product that I used on Little E’s first trip to the zoo was our stroller organizer. This handy tool easily snaps on to the stroller handle. It served as my purse on our trip. I had my phone, wallet, snacks, etc. all within quick reach. It was nice to not have to carry a purse around on my shoulder or to have to wrestle it out of the bottom of the stroller.

You can find a stroller organizer here.

I also highly suggest packing some snacks if you want to save some money. Waterbottles are also a must!

What To Do With Baby on Their First Trip To the Zoo

So what can you actually do with your baby on their first trip to the zoo?

There are lots of ways to include baby in your trip:

  • Take Them Out

Take them out of the stroller for periods of time, so they can actually see things too! Younger babies are most often in backward-facing strollers (which I personally think is best for safety and comfort reasons). This makes it almost impossible for them to look at the animals. When they are awake, take them out for short periods so they can look at stuff and be engaged.

Especially if your little one is toddling around already, let them run around for parts of it. You may want a safety harness, or you may decide to not set them down if it is especially crowded. Lots of zoos, however, have areas that are less crowded that you can let baby toddle around for a bit of time.

  • Talk To Them

It’s never too early to teach your baby! While they may not actually take in and understand the information that you are telling them, the sound of your voice and the words you are saying will help stimulate your baby’s language and mental development. Talking to them will make the trip more enjoyable for both them and you!

Be sure to allow for rest during baby's first trip to the zoo |

  • Take it Easy

A trip to the zoo with baby is going to be at a different pace than you might have done the zoo before. Take your time and simply stroll around. Don’t be afraid to take breaks in quiet places for feeding, changing, or just plain resting. Both you and baby will be more easily tired out than the last time you came (perhaps unless you visited the zoo while pregnant!).

  • Get a Keepsake

If you are able to, a keepsake to remember baby’s first trip to the zoo with is super fun. It can be something as simple as the map to the zoo, or something like a fun toy you buy at the shop. Little E’s grandpa got him an adorable rhino stuffed animal for his first zoo trip keepsake!

Little E's Keepsake From His First Trip to the Zoo |

Regardless of when baby’s first trip to the zoo is, you will have such a fun time! Be sure to pack what you need, give your baby a chance to engage in the activities, and get some rest while you’re there, too. I know you and baby will have a blast!

Have you taken baby to the zoo yet? How was your first trip? What helped make it amazing? Leave a comment below!

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