Bleh, winter: You are overrated. And that feeling goes double if you happen to have an infant or young baby. I think we all can agree that in those moments when it’s too cold to go for a walk with the stroller, and when little stands between you and a wild-eyed, Jack Nicholson-esque level of cabin fever, it’s a really good to have a standby list of easy, accessible stuff you can do and places you can go just to get out of the house.
So. While we just updated our giant (bookmarkable!) list of indoor play spaces, a lot (not all, but many) of those things are geared toward toddlers and young kids. So we we ALSO thought it was a good idea to update our old go-tos of places you can take newborns, infants and young babies: a well-edited little list of low-pressure, baby-friendly activities that don’t pose the risk of infant frostbite. Without further ado …
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We’ve written before about our love for all the classes and playgroups that require no more commitment than the hour you’re there. And they’re not just for toddlers; even tiny infants are welcome at some of them. Just visit the site first to check out ages and times. (Start here, with our guide to some favorites in the city!)
You have a couple choices here: The Bryn Mawr Film Institute hosts Going Gaga on Wednesdays — a real, non-Disney film for grown-ups, but in a kid-friendly matinee environment: The lights are dimmed but not off; the volume is turned lower than usual so as not to hurt baby’s eardrums; and there’s even a changing table in the lobby. (And no, nobody cares if the baby cries or if you nurse during the film.) Tickets are sold 30 minutes before the show starts, and babies are free! Likewise, the Philly Film Society (at the revamped Roxy theater on Chestnut) hosts Baby on Board movies on Wednesdays, as well — same general set-up, with matinee times and prices. In both cases, check the sites for movies, times and ticket prices for the grown-ups!
Baby Story time at the Library and at Little Theater
Story times at the Free Library and its various branches abound, but there are special ones geared toward babies and toddlers, with songs and rhymes and enough other babies crying that you won’t feel like you stand out. Check the calendar; you’ll see they pop up regularly at various branches. (And they’re free!) There’s also the awesome Baby Wordplay’s Little Theater in Grad Ho, which welcomes infants for story play time — a mix of stories, puppets, games, song and more. There are lots of drop-in options, most of them in the morning hours (with a few exceptions): Check the calendar for the best class for your tiny one. Drop-ins are just $10.
This category is in the same vein as the drop-in classes, but with the added bonus of helping you combat winter sloth. So many yoga studios offer some parent/baby classes on a rotating basis that you might start by checking with whatever your neighborhood yoga place is, but there are also always the solid standbys: Wake-Up Yoga in Fairmount and South Philly which almost always have them, as well as Mama’s Wellness Joint in Wash West, where there are a ton of wonderful family-focused options.
Breastfeeding or New Mom Groups
Meeting a bunch of other moms at nursing or new-mom groups can be seriously life-altering — for the first several weeks of Luke’s life, my weekly breastfeeding group was something I looked forward to, and came to really count on. There’s no advance reservations needed; it’s cool if baby cries; it’s actually expected that you’ll pull out a boob; and it’s full of grown-up bonding. A handful of places in the city where you can find these types of groups (to start): Ali’s Wagon in Fairmount, Jefferson Hospital in Wash West, My Fabulous Mama on South Street, the new City Sprouts Maternity in Fishtown, CHOP in West Philly, Pennsy’s Hall-Mercer in Wash West, Studio 34 Yoga in West Philly. (Hey, Studio 34 also has mommy & me yoga right now!)
In the city alone, you’ve got the Shops at Liberty Place; Macy’s; IKEA in South Philly (or Lowe’s, if that’s your jam, or even Target) and Reading Terminal Market (just go in off hours on that one): Easy, expansive places you can take the stroller or carrier. But you know. With heating.
Stroller Tours at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
One Wednesday a month, at 11 a.m., the PMA hosts a baby-friendly (crying accepted) tour of the museum for newborns to one-year-olds. (Never too early to expose ’em to some culture!) There’s also a weekly “baby bird play dates,” which is circle time, games and gallery walks for babies and toddlers. The general admission for adult is $20; for kids it’s free. (Unless you’er a member — and then general admission is free!)
Meets the Wee standards: