Ten Things Every New Manhattan Parent Should Know
1. A public bathroom in every neighborhood
New York City is a walking town. Often we are far from home when we realize our baby’s diaper needs changing now. It’s great to know where the closest—and cleanest—public bathrooms are in your neighborhood and those you are visiting. TIP: Barnes and Noble is always a good bet as they have large bathrooms with pull-down diaper decks. In addition, any store that sells gear or clothing for expectant moms or kids is safe—FAO Schwarz, giggle, or Buy Buy Baby will be happy to let you use their facilities; even if you are not making a purchase.
2. Where to find a lightweight stroller
As soon as your baby is old enough—typically six months or so—ditch your big stroller and trade it in for one that is light-weight and easy to fold. As a Manhattan parent, taking public transportation is a big part of our lives, so having a lightweight, easy-to-fold stroller is a must. TIP: Some great strollers that fit the bill are made by Maclaren, Chicco and City Mini.
3. Central Park!
As a New York City parent, Central Park is your playground. Knowing your way around the park is vital because most places are only accessible on foot. Stop by one of the information booths in Central Park to get a free map or print one out on-line (centralpark.com). TIP: Favorite spots include the Carousel, Zoo, Duck Pond and the multitude of playgrounds.
4. A great car service
Sometimes a car is the only way to get around town with a stroller, car seat and baby in tow. If you’d rather not rely on a taxi, some car services may be able to provide you with a car seat strapped into the back seat. TIP: If you want a sure thing, however, there is an ingenuous car service in NYC called Kid Car NY (kidcarny.com) that comes equipped with clean and safe car seats every single time. Kid Car NY offers round-trip rides and carpool opportunities, too.
5. Winter activities
Winter days can be long when you are staying home with a little one, but there are some terrific indoor options. Both the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM ) and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) are located on the Upper West Side. CMOM has a wide array of exhibits, with a bunch geared toward the youngest babies and toddlers. TIP: CMOM’s Wizard of Oz exhibit opened this fall, and their permanent exhibit “Playworks” is perfect for newborn to four year olds. AMNH is gigantic and offers babies and parents the opportunity to view dinosaurs, planets, rainforests and more. The Whale’s Lair area is the perfect spot to let your toddler roam.
6. New mom support groups
Life as a new parent can often be lonely and isolating, especially if you’re used to being in an office each day. TIP: Baby Bites (babybites.com) offers support groups for new moms all over town. These once-a-week groups are run by certified life coaches and offer the opportunity for new moms to get out of the house and meet to discuss issues such as sleep, nursing and more.
7. A pharmacy that delivers
As every New Yorker knows, one of the best perks of living here is that you can get practically anything you want delivered. As a new parent, there are tons of supplies that are always needed that can be at your doorstep with one phone call. Get friendly with your pharmacist and have the number on speed dial. TIP: Find a pharmacy in your neighborhood that is open 24 hours. Babies tend to get sick in the middle of night, so knowing where to get Pedialyte at 2 a.m. is a must.
8. Kid-friendly restaurants
Going out for dinner with your baby can be a challenge. When they are tiny, you may be lucky enough to time it just right so that your little one sleeps right through dinner. If not, you want to be in a place where a crying baby will not lead to death stares.Seek out the kid/baby friendly spot in your neighborhood by following the strollers. Peek in to see if strollers are allowed near the table and if it is noisy enough that your baby won’t disturb other diners too much. TIP: Check out the iPhone app ikidny.com to locate child-friendly dining in your area.
9. Up-to-the minute NYC baby info
Life in the city can be challenging. New restaurants, stores and classes open and close daily. How can you keep track? TIP: Use the website strollertraffic.com, which offers a twice weekly email blast touting the best of the best in New York City in gear, clothing, accessories, travel and more. It’s a must-read for NYC parents.
10. A reliable babysitter
At some point, every new parent is ready for a night—or at least a few hours—off. Finding a babysitter in New York can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. TIP: Great organizations that specialize in last-minute help are nypinchsitters.com and metropolitansitters.com. If you’d like a college or grad student, try Bank Street College (212-875-4404) or Barnard Sitting Service. (212-854-2035).
Pamela Weinberg is the co-author of the bestselling NYC parenting guidebook City Baby.