Activities & Play
Kids love to play – and for good reason! Every time a child picks up a toy, plays pretend, or moves their body, they are learning more about themselves and the world around them. During play, they build brains and important life skills such as resiliency, creativity, confidence, and problem solving.
There are two forms of play: structured and unstructured. structured play is where a child follows directions guided by an adult, such as doing a puzzle or playing sports. Unstructured play is where children play however they want – on a jungle gym, playing make-believe, or simply running around outside. Kids should get a blend of structured and unstructured play everyday. As your child grows, so too does their stage of play. From infancy through kindergarten, your child will move through six stages of play that grows to involve objects and other people over time. Learn more about the how and why of play with these resources.
Find Austin resources for activities and play on ConnectATX.
Bright by Text
Bright by Text is there for families when you need them most. They share helpful tips, activities, and events based on your child’s age and your location.
Colorin Colorado: Learning To Read
There are lots of ways that you can help your children learn to read! This section is filled with tips for what you can do at home, fun activities, suggestions for choosing books to share together, and ideas on how you can prepare your child for a lifetime and love of reading.
Family Do512 Events
Do512 Family helps you stay in-the-know about all of the great opportunities for family fun in the Austin area! You’ll find them writing about special family-friendly events, Austin traditions, favorite places, parks, pools, playgrounds, daytrips, restaurants, camps, classes, and so much more.
Free Fun in Austin
Austin.com is a local media network that provides content on local happenings in Austin to make it a more welcoming, connected, and friendly community. It includes seasonal and free family events around Austin.
Games for Infants & Toddlers
Find games that provide support and developmental growth for children 0-24 months.
How and When to Play
Why does play matter? It helps children learn about themselves and the world while developing crucial life skills.
How To Share Books with Your Preschooler
Even children in preschool can enjoy books, and learn from sharing books with you. Sharing books with your children can help them learn to talk better, and get them ready to listen and learn in school.
Learn more about monitoring your child’s media use from infancy through adolescence.
Find ways to play for children ages 2-8! Activities can be filtered by age and type of skill you wish to learn.
Screen Time Limits for Kids
Screens are a part of everyday life. Learn how to set healthy boundaries for your little ones.
Behavior & Positive Parenting
Parenting young children can be challenging – even when doing everything right, kids can have difficulties working through their feelings. Positive parenting means taking an approach that is sensitive to your child’s needs and addressing challenges with empathy and respect. These skills don’t always come naturally – that’s where classes can help. Parenting classes often follow evidence-based models to equip parents and caregivers to help their child grow healthy, happy, and supported. Austin parenting classes follow these different models: Nurturing Parenting, AVANCE Parent Child Education Program, Play to Learn, Play and Learning Strategies, Triple P, Partners in Parenting, Centering Pregnancy/Parenting, IDADS, and 24/7 Dad.
Home Visiting programs can also help – these programs involve some amount of support at home, ranging from a one-time visit to weekly or monthly check-ins. Home visiting programs bring in a caring professional to check in on you and your family to provide tailored parenting support and resources. Like parenting classes, they are often evidence-based, meaning you get tried and tested care when you most need it. Some of these models in practice in Austin include: Parents as Teachers, Nurse-Family Partnership, Safe Care, Healthy Families America, and Parent Child Plus.
Find Austin resources for behavior and positive parenting on ConnectATX.
5 Steps To Deal with a Clingy Toddler
Understand clinginess and separation anxiety in toddlers.
Developing Social-Emotional Skills
Learn what you can do to support social-emotional development in your child from birth to age three.
Social-Emotional Learning Skills
Activities, tips, resource lists, discussion guides, and more to help you raise caring and ethical children who are concerned about others, and the common good.
Toddlers do not always have the communication skills to explain why they are upset, often leading to tantrums. Learn more about how to work with your little one into more productive behavior.
Toilet training involves working with your toddler to understand their body and how to verbalize needs. Check out articles aimed to help support this learning process.
What To Do When Your Child Bites
Biting is a normal developmental milestone for toddlers. Learn why they may bite and what to do next.
What To Do When Kids Talk Back
Kids learn how to express themselves as they grow up – sometimes leading to disrespectful behavior. Address this by teaching them to respond in a more positive manner.
From the perspective of a dad – Dad University provides videos and helpful resources on being a dad. Resources are sorted by topic, age, and behaviors.
National Center for Fathering
NCF strives to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. Find information on research, training, and resources for fathers.
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
A national resource for dads who are looking for tips, hints. and deals to support their families.
Child Care & Education
Child care is a vital resource for parents. Often, caregivers are some of the most present figures in your child’s life apart from you and are crucial to supporting the growth and development of little ones. When looking for caregivers, there are several options available to you depending on your family’s needs and resources.
Licensed child care centers and homes are regulated by Texas Health and Human Services’ Child Care Regulation (CCR) and stipulates number and age of children, hours of care, and requires them to meet minimum standards of care. Child care centers have more children enrolled (at least 7 children) and are not located in the provider’s home; child care homes have fewer children (no more than 12 at any time) and are located within the provider’s home. Listed Family Homes are not licensed or regulated by CCR.
Depending on income and household size, your child might qualify for child care subsidies, Early Head Start, or Head Start. Early Head Start, for children 0-3 years old, and Head Start, for children 3-5 years old, are federal programs that promote the school readiness of children from families with low income by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Pre-Kindergarten, provided by your local school district, is for 3-4 year olds to help build the foundation of academic and social/emotional skills needed for school success. To find more information on how to look for quality child care, check out this list to guide your search.
Find Austin resources for child care & education on ConnectATX.
Office of Head Start
Head Start programs promote the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Learn more here.
Pre-K in Central Texas
More than ABCs and 1,2,3s. These early years are critical for a child to develop the foundational connections they need to be healthy, capable, social and successful. Learn more about Pre-K here.
Texas Child Care portal
Find available child care in Texas that meets your needs. Sort by zip code, method of transportation, and time of care needed. For each child care provider, learn more about the center history by viewing certificate and inspector reports.
Workforce Solutions: Child Care
Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions for a parent to make. Find Austin-specific resources for parents on applying, choosing a provider, and finding parenting classes.
Developmental milestones are behavioral or physical checkpoints in a child’s development. Monitoring your child’s milestones is crucial to know if they are on track with their developmental progress. If caught early, many delays in development can be addressed through specialized therapies aimed to support the growth of the child. Helpful tools like checklists can be used while coordinating with other caretakers in your child’s life to monitor your child’s progress. Over time, you can also help your little one develop though everyday activities like play, helping with basic tasks, and regular engagement.
Find Austin resources for child development on ConnectATX.
Brain Development Hub
Learn more about the crucial role you play in building your baby’s brain, get your questions answered, and find some fun “brain-building” activities to share with your little one.
Learn The Signs, Act Early
Watch your child’s amazing progress by tracking their developmental milestones , how they play, learn, speak, act, and move. Check out these free tools to help you track your child’s milestones, including an app and downloadable charts.
Navigate Life Texas
Find resources and support for families raising children with disabilities. Find information on diagnosis and health care, education and schools, insurance and financial help, family support, and transition to adulthood.
A guide for Texas parents and caregivers of children with diagnosed or suspected disabilities from birth through 5 years of age.
Pathways: Child Development
Free resources to help understand, track, and encourage your child’s milestones for the best possible outcomes. Find an overview of abilities, games, videos, and other helpful resources.
Serve and Return Brain-Building
When an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills. Learn more about how practicing Serve and Return with your little one can promote their development.
As little ones are growing, so too is their immune system. Getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy, taking care of their teeth, and moving their bodies can all help support a healthy immune system. When infants, toddlers, and young children get sick, their symptoms can range from mild to worrying. Knowing how and where your child is hurting can help provide some clarity on what may be going on in their bodies and what steps should be taken next. If you are ever concerned or unsure about your child’s health, please consult your pediatrician.
Find Austin resources for health on ConnectATX.
Common Health Issues
Find information on various health issues, including conditions, injuries & emergencies, and vaccine preventable diseases.
Find tips on teething, toothbrushes, and more to care for your little one’s teeth.
Is your child sick? Whether you’re on the go or at home, this interactive tool will help you know what to do next. The care guides help parents make smart decisions on what level of care (if any) is needed and how to provide speedy symptom relief for minor illnesses or injuries you can manage on your own.
Well-Visit Parent Education
Families make health decisions for their children every day. Ideally, families know the importance of immunizations and regular check-ups and understand that good health depends on family routines, including healthful meals, physical activity, and discipline. Find parent educational handouts for what to expect here.
A pre-visit planning tool to help you make the most of your child’s visit. Use your Well Visit Guide to partner with your child’s provider to meet your child and family’s priorities and needs.
A healthy diet for little ones gives their minds and bodies the right ingredients to grow, develop, and play. Weight and height changes happen often and naturally with growth spurts. You can ensure they feel good in their bodies by helping them get a good variety of foods and plenty of exercise. Starting from infants with breastfeeding or nutrient-rich formulas, through fast-paced Kindergarteners, find plenty of information on what and how to feed your growing little ones.
Find Austin resources for food and nutrition on ConnectATX.
Healthy Eating Tips
It’s not easy coming up with healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for kids, day in and day out. Don’t worry. You’ve got this. You can raise kids with healthy eating habits and take the stress out of mealtime. Keep reading to get tips and ideas to make healthy, kid-friendly meals.
A healthy eating routine is important at every stage of life and can have positive effects that add up over time. It’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients. Make every bite count. Learn more here.
Your preschooler may seem to be in constant motion much of the time. This is because she uses her body to convey thoughts and emotions that she still can’t describe through language. Moving her body also helps her better understand many words and concepts that are new to her. In addition, your child should now have a healthy attitude toward eating and consume food to give her energy, not to demonstrate defiance.
Caring for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can be downright exhausting. As important as it is to manage a job and set healthy habits for family, caring for our own wellbeing is just as important. Doing things like building inner strength and resiliency, setting helpful boundaries, and practicing mindfulness can all be important actions to ensure you keep your cool and help your little ones in the process.
Find Austin resources for parent wellbeing on ConnectATX.
Building Inner Strength
Nurturing your own inner strength builds parental resilience. Parental resilience allows you to manage your feelings, solve problems with a clear head, take care of yourself, and shelter your children, even when things are difficult. Find tools on building resilience and hear from other parents.
Caregiver Mental Health
Parenting is an important and sometimes challenging job. Looking after yourself helps you do the job well so that your child can grow, develop, and thrive. This Australia-based website has a host of tips and tricks to support your wellbeing.
Making a Family Calendar with Toddlers & Young Kids
Even if you’re not able to stick to your plan all the time, having guidelines can help you get more done and feel less overwhelmed. Schedules and family rituals can help keep kids stay healthy, happy, and out of trouble as they grow up. Here are some tips for creating a family calendar that work for young children.
Mindfulness has been used with adults to reduce stress, bolster overall health and psychological functioning, and assist a return to wellness following adversity. It may also support healthy adult-child relationships. Find resources on mindfulness here.
We all want our children to be safe, healthy, and happy. With that in mind, we work to create an environment that provides safe boundaries for little ones. These boundaries include physical spaces – babyproofing, car safety, water safety, hazardous materials – as well as helping them set emotional boundaries to create lasting and healthy relationships. A helpful way to support children is to consider the environments they will be in and enact preventative efforts to keep them safe. A little information and planning can go a long way.
Find Austin resources for safety on ConnectATX.
Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. That’s why it’s so important to choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car. Follow these important steps to choose the right seat, install it correctly, and keep your child safe.
Keeping Kids Safe In and Around Cars
The best way to keep kids safe around cars is to create safe habits when they are young. Consider safety guidelines with car seats and seat belts, parking lot safety, and temperature regulation here.
If you think someone has been poisoned, call at 1-800-222-1222 right away. Do not wait for the victim to look or feel sick. Find other helpful safety information for prevention and education.
Safety Hub for Little Kids
On this site, you will find the top tips every parent needs to keep their little one safe. Find other resources like check-lists and videos that will give you the tools you need to ensure they stay safe.
Water Safety: Colin’s Hope
Drowning is fast, silent, and preventable. Colin’s Hope teaches parents, caregivers, and children about water safety to prevent drowning.
Getting enough sleep can be difficult to ensure for a growing child. Little ones grow and change so much over time, as do their sleep habits and needs. The amount and quality of sleep they get is just as important as their nutrition and exercise to their overall growth and development. Between naps and bedtime, infants need 12-16 hours, toddlers need 11-14 hours, preschoolers need 10-13 hours, and grade-schoolers need 9-12 hours. Establishing good sleep habits with your little ones will help them now and set them up for success as they grow older.
Healthy Children: Sleep
Sleep is just as important to your children’s development and well-being as nutrition and physical activity. The amount and quality of sleep we have can affect our safety, how alert we are, as well as our memories, moods, behavior, and learning abilities. Establishing good sleep practices while your children are young will not only benefit you, but it will help them for many years to come.