What to do with a baby in the winter, other than go stir-crazy and climb the walls.

winter in new york

"Coasting -- Central Park." Last winter. Kidding. From the Library of Congress, ca 1910.

Since Siobhan asked what to do with a baby under the age of one in the wintertime in New York, and I was very flattered to be thought of by at least one person as worthy of asking, I thought I would post a few ideas here!

The main thing I would say, now being the uber-experienced mother of an ancient near-two-year-old, is to take advantage of how portable the wee ones are.  You may think it’s a hassle to stick a baby in a carrier and throw some diapers in a bag, but wait until they insist on bringing their favorite tiny books, precious and very losable small toys, and nine kinds of snacks, and put up a fight when getting bundled up.  Also: there are tons of picturesque-sounding things to do in the winter here that our kids won’t be up for for another couple of years — ice skating, seeing the Nutcracker.  Oh well, we’ll get to all that later.

So I was thinking about last winter and remembering how I took Harper all sorts of places — Moma, the American Museum of Natural History, the Met — anywhere!  She’d nurse when she was hungry and sleep in little baby catnaps when she was tired.  No more, friends!  Now there is a heavy stroller and a nap schedule and specific desires! So my first piece of advice: field trips.

I also was a very devoted denizen of my (and Siobhan’s) local YMCA and their many baby classes.  Baby yoga, open gym time, baby pilates, storytime.  Yes, it all sounds silly, but when you need to get out of the house those things are a godsend.  Plus you meet other moms and get to complain about stuff.  Awesome.

Library story time always made for another good, if obvious, outing.  And when the kidlets get a little older, like crawling or maybe walking, there are some great indoor playspaces.  I only really know the ones in Park Slope, but here are a couple: Juguemos a Cantar (their schedule changes every semester so check the site!), NYC Explorers, and at least two moms I know swear by the playspace at Congregation Beth Elohim but for whatever reason I never made it and now Harper’s too old.

And you know what else?  The thing about pre-walkers is that everything’s a field trip.  Point out some fruit at the grocery store and that’s crazy educational, yo.  A morning at the laundromat?  So spinny and engaging!  I remember “playdates” that were really just getting coffee or lunch with a friend while the babies drooled on our keys.  Well, listen, Siobhan, times done changed.  Once they are walking they want to MOVE and it feels unfair, to me at least, to coop them up in some grownuppy place if you don’t have to.  So dear mothers of small babies, my advice to you is to do whatever you want and take the baby with.  I mean, within reason! Jeez!

Oh yeah and PS: get a little sled!  Last winter we borrowed our neighbor’s molded plastic baby sled and ever-so-slowly dragged a besnowsuited Harper around Prospect Park.  It was cute.  Today I was trying to get her to go outside to play in the snow and she said, “No thank you,” and requested glue and collage instead.  Girls!

15 responses to “What to do with a baby in the winter, other than go stir-crazy and climb the walls.

  1. Out here in the west I’m seeing all these people hiking with their babies. It looks awesome. Especially since I’m not the one carrying them.

    • Westerners are so outdoorsy! If you get the right one, those carriers and backpacks can be so very comfortable, and give you more freedom of movement than a stroller. Then again, I am the mother of a chronically underweight child…

  2. Thanks for this affirmation and inspiration! We are going FORWARD with travel plans. Our families might think we’re crazy, but the way I see it, our baby (will be 11 mos. at time of travel) is so totable, NOW is the time to do it! (Now, I have to get her a passport. Isn’t that exciting?)

  3. And that independence thing keeps happening. Eventually, the children forget that they are extensions of our own wishes and dreams…and get this…
    think of themselves as their own person!
    I know. It’s weird but true.

  4. Nice options for Brooklyn! We are considering a move from Manhattan, so your list will be helpful. In the meantime, I have posted some of the Manhattan locations we have been frequenting this winter with my now-8 month old daughter at http://www.midtownmommy.com under “Classes” for anyone in the city who is interested.

  5. Hey, thanks! That’s a great list. And you reminded me of something I left out: the only class we actually, like, enroll in and pay for and attend regularly: swimming! Which is really fun.

  6. Really? I thought about that but didn’t know if my 8 month old was ready… what is the class like?

  7. See, that’s a very cautious, American swim class. Actually, babies up to six months have the dive reflex, and this should be taken advantage of to submerge them in water. http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-true-that-babies-are-born-with-the-ability-to-swim-and_10313062.bc

    • Interesting!! I actually didn’t take swimming when she was that little. I wonder if there’s a place in Brooklyn that does real actual baby-dunking…sounds so cute and fun. And a little scary. But I mean, hey, they were just living in fluid for 40 weeks, it makes sense…

  8. That’s such a smart idea. I’m a bit ashamed that I haven’t taken one of these. People told me that they tell awful stories about babies choking and I chickened out! Isn’t that stupid? Anyway, good tip. Although I have to say it doesn’t sound as fun as swimming.

  9. Pingback: Mommy and Me Swim Lessons: Just as Cute as it Sounds. | household words

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