Parenting Resource

10 Ways to Share (Virtual) Traditions With Babies and Toddlers

Nov 18, 2020

Stay merry and bright -- here are ten fantastic ways to share holiday traditions with your baby or toddler using video chat!

Many families are re-thinking holiday traditions this year. Concerns about coronavirus and safe travel with young children have meant changes to how we gather, connect, and celebrate. The upside is that we have video chat, and we know that children can strengthen relationships with the people they see, talk to, and play with on screen. So stay merry and bright – here are ten fantastic ways to share holiday traditions with your baby or toddler using video chat!

  1. Share holiday songs. Starting with the “5 little turkeys” song, the holiday season is filled with music. Use video chat with grandparents or other important family members to share favorite holiday songs. Turn up the fun by having screen partners use instruments like a bell, shaker or drum as they sing along. Or, pause during a familiar song and let toddlers fill in a key word or phrase.

  2. Share a bite. Let’s face it: Holidays are about food. Video chat with a favorite family member as you sit down for a special meal and taste the different foods “together.” Do your child and the person on screen both have sweet potatoes on their plates? Taste them together and talk about whether you like them or not. Your child may even want to “feed” their video chat partner through the screen. They can play along and pretend to take a big bite of that delicious turkey leg.

  3. Share a baking project. Family members on both sides of the screen can decorate cookies, roll dough, or measure ingredients “together.”

  4. Share a craft project. Whether it’s creating handprint turkeys, painting a popsicle stick menorah, or placing stickers on a construction paper tree, video chat partners can talk and show one another their creations through the screen.

  5. Share your thanks. Now is a great time to begin—or continue—a tradition where each family member shares what they are thankful for. This is a great activity for your toddler (aged 2-2 ½ years and up). Prior to the call, talk about what it means to be thankful and use this word so your child hears and understands it. I’m so thankful you helped me put your shoes in the basket. I’m thankful we were on time to catch the bus! On the call, go first and give your child a model for their response.

  6. Share a story. Many families have favorite holiday stories that have been shared from generation to generation. Settle your little one on your lap and connect with a loved one on video chat. Give them the chance to bring these stories alive for your child. Look for ways you can help, perhaps by bouncing your knees like the sleigh on its way, or wiggling your finger like the flame of a candle.

  7. Share your holiday decorations. Let your toddler lead the way as they carry the phone through the house to show their video chat partner how your home has been transformed for the holidays.

  8. Share a special holiday activity. You might give your child a special job to do while on the chat, like placing a favorite family ornament (unbreakable, please!) on the tree. Or, children can play the dreidel game with their grandparent watching on the other side of the screen.

  9. Share a toy. If toys or gifts are part of your holiday celebrations, this is a no-brainer of an activity. Toddlers love to show others their treasures. Suggest they hold one of their gifts in front of the camera for their video chat partner to see and talk about.

  10. Share a blessing. For many families, a shared blessing or prayer is an important part of the holiday season. Children can “hold hands” with their grandparent through the screen during the blessing. Or, they can be in charge of saying a word or phrase during the prayer on video chat. Creating meaningful ways for young children to be a part of this family tradition builds connections that last generations.

About Baby Steps

This article was featured in Baby Steps, a ZERO TO THREE newsletter for parents and caregivers. Each issue offers science-based information on a topic of interest to parents and caregivers of young children—from sleep to challenging behaviors, and everything in between.

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  • Author

    Rebecca Parlakian

    Senior Director of Programs

    2028572976