If you’re hesitant to go on outings now that you’re a new parent, we’re here to tell you that getting out and about with your baby is not only good for your wee one, but it’s especially good for you too. Being in the fresh air, surrounded by sights, sounds, and energy will work wonders to help you adjust to new-parent life.
We asked the experts—all New York-area parents—to weigh in and everyone agreed: To have the best exploration experience you need to be ready for every scenario. Whether they shared their favorite products or just a little bit of advice that worked for them, these parents are enthusiastic about the benefits of exploring, baby in tow. Read on for their tried-and-true tips.
Take a Fun Walk Outside
With the weather changing and cool mornings on the horizon, you want to dress your baby in clothing that’s versatile and adapts to a chilly morning followed by bright midday sun, says Allison Chiaramonte, a real estate agent at Warburg Realty and mom of two kids.
“When I’m out and about with my kids I usually have a long list of errands,” she says. “This means we are constantly in and out of houses, offices, and stores. When it’s cold outside this can cause problems, but I have found the best thing ever for my son—a cute winter jacket with a hood. Easy on and off with the hood means I don’t have to keep track of where he left his hat, which he rips off as soon as we get inside. Also the jacket distracts from the fact I sometimes take him out in PJs when we are having one of those mornings!”
For Anna Zak, mom of a 5-month-old son, a fully packed bag of ‘what-if’ supplies makes a day outside a win-win. “I always pack a big park blanket folded tightly and placed at the base of my stroller—we opted for the Bugaboo Bee5 because it’s lightweight for the city,” she says. “I make sure to pack my Munchkin Arm & Hammer diaper disposal bags because as long as I have them I have somewhere to put a dirty diaper.”
Ride the Subway and Bus
Public transportation is not only a quicker way to get from place to place, it offers its own share of amusement for kids of all ages. But being prepared for the journey is ultra-important.
Loving the ride is half the fun, says Heath Fradkoff, a Brooklyn dad whose 2-year-old son, Hugh, adores public transportation. “Hugh has a little wooden MTA bus and subway car. When he plays with them he shouts, ‘Please exit through the rear door’ and ‘Stand clear of the closing doors, please,’ respectively,” he says.
As for gear, Fradkoff is a fan of his trusty Maclaren Triumph umbrella stroller. “It’s good on stairs, and it folds up easily so we can quickly get it out of the way of other passengers,” he says. For walks around town, Fradkoff has another fave method of toting Hugh. “During the spring and fall weather I love taking Hugh around in an Osprey backpack,” he says. “This keeps my hands free to walk the dog or run errands and Hugh likes the higher vantage point.”
Marisa Pincas, who lives on the Upper East Side with her 2-year-old son, is also a big fan of taking public transportation for jaunts. “My husband and I travel all over the city with our son,” she says.
The key to a smooth trip: a lightweight, easily foldable stroller. “New York City buses require you to fold up a stroller and, while I find most New Yorkers will help you carry a stroller up and down the stairs, it can be a real challenge if it’s just you and your child!” Pincas says.
All the more reason she suggests mapping out your route first. “This way you can make sure you know how you will exit—escalator, stairs, or elevator. I also suggest making sure that the elevators are working before heading out, especially if you have an infant or a larger stroller that you can’t easily fold or carry,” Pincas says.
Also, Pincas suggests parents always leave themselves extra time when traveling on the subway. “This way you can account for navigating the corridors in search of those elevators,” she explains. “I’ve forgotten to do this in the past and have missed my train out of Penn!”
In the end, the best tip might just be this: Be sure to take along plenty of hand sanitizer and baby wipes. “Pediatricians advise parents to avoid public transportation until your baby is at least two months,” Zak says. “After the two-month mark, we were happy to take the subway. We just made sure to cover our son’s hands with sanitizer.”
Enjoy a Meal at Your Favorite Spot
Every parent we spoke to agreed: You’re better off going to dinner early-bird style, say, before 6pm or whenever the dinner rush commences. In addition, distraction is key when taking baby to breakfast, lunch, or dinner at your favorite restaurant. This becomes more and more important the older your little one gets.
“Always come prepared with toys or coloring books to keep them occupied,” Pincas says. “When you are waiting for a meal to arrive, having something for my son to focus on has saved me and my fellow patrons from witnessing a meltdown.”
Another way to plan ahead: Make sure the restaurant is actually baby- and/or child-friendly. “For example, some bars don’t let babies in past a certain hour or at all,” Zak says. “As a young mom I often take my son with us when we meet up with family or friends for a drink. We’ve taken him to plenty of bars/rooftops during the day and have had no problem doing so. Recently, however, when some family was in town we attempted to walk into a bar that had a strict ‘no baby’ policy. While at first we were offended on behalf of our baby, after reconsidering it we realized that after a certain hour this is as much for his safety as it is for the convenience of the patrons.”
No matter the restaurant you plan to dine in, bringing snacks will save the day, Chiaramonte adds. “It may seem counterintuitive to bring food to a restaurant, but this ensures there are no hunger-induced tantrums while waiting for your food!”
And believe it or not, it’s never a bad idea to opt for outdoor seating and have an escape route should the meal go south, Zak adds.
“Look for tables that are spacious and have easy access to head out the door in case your baby gets cranky,” she says. “Also, at any point, be okay with the fact that you may have to abandon your plans and get your food to go.” No matter what, you’ll have gotten a bit of fresh air—and had an adventure you can laugh about.
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