For a great New Year’s Eve for kids, think about your child’s age and needs. Babies and toddlers need minimal change. Preschoolers need concrete explanations about what a new year is. School-age children provide a great time to start family reflections.

Baby New Year

Infants and toddlers prefer a consistent routine. To celebrate with your littlest ones, change to their routine as little as possible.

Toddler asleep with cuddle toy

Little change to sleep for the littlest ones.

If you celebrate at a family member or friend’s home, remember to bring some familiar objects, or even used sheets. Keep bedtime the same. Remember that you may need to spend extra time getting your little one down on the last night of the year.

Regardless of your child’s age, consider staying home or sleeping over. An impaired driver presents the greatest danger to all New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Preschool Curiosity

Preschoolers are also too young to stay up yet ready for some excitement. Celebrate early, enjoy a home-grown dance party with noise makers. Limit significant changes in the types and amount of food they eat that night.

Keep in mind that a preschooler may want to know just what a new year is.

A Sixty Second Parent Writer offers the following for hungry minds at the new year:

It is often difficult for young children to understand that we will have a new MONTH and a NEW YEAR.  It helps to go over the names of the calendar months starting with January.

If you have a 2016 calendar, say the names of the months as you turn the old calendar pages.  Remind them that the calendar ends with December, and the names of the months begin January.

Explain that when December ends and then January begins. When that happens during the night the calendar YEAR goes up by one.

Some children may not be able to understand 2016 to 2017, but many young children know TEEN NUMBERS. Ask the children what number would come AFTER the number 16? Show the children a simple number line and count up with them:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15 16 17

The old year of 2016 will become the NEW YEAR of 2017 on January 1st!

Invite the preschool children to celebrate the coming of the New Year in some way. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, late-night party. You might celebrate New Year’s Eve for kids with a pancake breakfast in the new year.

School-age Children Can Reflect

School-age children remind us often that they are not babies and tell us how they used to do things. They can reflect on how they and things around them have changed.

This creates an opportunity to reflect on New Year’s Eve as a family about the ups and downs of the past year. You can make some choices about how elaborate to be. Consider talk over breakfast or by the fire, and mom or dad jot down a few notes about it to read next year. Or create a list in an app while traveling for the holidays.

One good, concrete idea for kids involves creating a family time capsule. Keep a discarded gift-box or buy a dollar-store storage box and mark it with the year that is passing.

Ask your children to share thoughts, pictures, drawing, school-projects, lists of favorites. Put the notes and objects in the box. You might tape it shut or wrap it.

As a family decide how often you want to open and look in your time capsule.

All ages need safety-minded parents. New homes, new foods, and careless drivers can threaten the happiness of a new year.

For New Year’s Eve with kids, gather with those you love and celebrate well.