Tips for getting around, finding fun and keeping your sanity on Baby's first trip to the Big Apple.
As a recent college grad in my 20s, New York City was the ultimate playground.
For five years it taught me everything that school hadn’t. A new experience and fascinating people were at the end of every subway ride, and I had a superhuman ability to barely sleep and love every minute of it.
But returning to my old stomping ground this spring — now with my 17-month-old toddler in tow — the only playground I wanted was a small, enclosed jungle gym out of the way of zipping Ubers.
Descending into the subway with a stroller became my new superhuman ability. And the sleeping part… well, parenthood has brought a return of those wide-eyed nights of my 20s, but loving it I am not.
However, my husband and I found that the city has a very kid-friendly side, once you know where to look. Here are some do’s and don’ts for a smooth trip to the Big Apple with Baby.
DO: Get an Uber with a car seat
Some NYC Uber drivers are equipped with car seats that you can request through the regular Uber app. For a $10 surcharge, a specially-certified driver will snap in an IMMI Go car seat suitable for tots over 12 months old and between 22 and 48 pounds.
DON’T: Fly into Newark Airport
The Uber car seat program does not exist in New Jersey. Your best bet is to fly into JFK, where the service generally operates swiftly and efficiently.
Check the “Family/Kid Friendly” filter in your Airbnb search and you can find a full apartment or private level of a Brooklyn brownstone for a fraction of typical hotel prices. Some even offer cribs or a Pack ’n Play so you don’t have to bring your own. Plus, having a kitchen can cut down the stress and expense of trying to find a kid-friendly restaurant for every meal.
DO: Bring the baby carrier
Since the majority of the NYC subway system was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect, many stations do not have elevators. But navigating the rails is almost easy when you can take on flights of stairs and ultra-cramped rush-hour trains with your little one strapped snugly to your body.
DON’T: Bring the jogging stroller
A stroller comes in handy for museum-going and leisurely walks in Central Park. But leave the Cadillac ride at home and opt for an ultra-light, easily-collapsible umbrella style model (my favorite is the MacLaren Volo). It will fit better in tight spaces and can be more easily carried down subway stairs or tossed into the trunk of a cab. If you’re alone, there’s always a sympathetic stranger nearby ready to pick up one end.
DO: Parks and museums
Fortunately, the city teems with culture and entertainment for any age set. Check out The Children’s Museum in either Brooklyn or Manhattan, The Transit Museum in Brooklyn, the Central Park Zoo and the Prospect Park Zoo, which has an interactive petting farm. Be sure to check park schedules for free concerts and festivals that run throughout the summer. For rainy day fun, the New York Public Library has a fantastic Children’s Center with story times and musical performances.