FBG Jenn was in my neck of the woods over the weekend to run the More/Fitness Half Marathon in NYC for Thomas’ Bagel Thins. She had some spare time on Saturday, so the plan was for her to catch a train to New Jersey to hang with me and the bambino for most of the day. Ah, plans. Unfortunately, a nasty fever-inducing virus had other plans for Jenn, so instead of having her haul her sick bum my direction, my hubby and I packed up Avery to head into the city for a Fit Bottomed rendezvous.
Before Avery was born, my husband and I probably made it into NYC about once a month on average. Since her arrival eight months ago? This marks the second time. (This being the first.) Like any sort of travel with a baby—car, plane or otherwise—it’s a little more complicated than before. Here are a few tips I learned from baby’s day out!
6 Tips for Navigating Big Cities with Babies
1. Always give yourself five extra minutes. On our way in, we made it to our train with just minutes to spare. On our way home, we tried to catch a train that we knew would be a close call—and just missed it. Loading up a baby, unloading a baby, paying for parking, hauling a stroller up or down stairs to the train platform—all of these add precious seconds to the trip. Always give yourself plenty of time or be prepared to catch the next one!
2. Look for the wheelchair accessible signs. If you’ve got a stroller, you’re going to need easy access to trains, subways and buildings. You’ll start to get good at finding elevators and ramps, and the handicapped train cars will give you room for your stroller. Revolving doors are a no-go, so look closely for regular doors (bonus points if they are automatic or have a button you can push to open them.) Sometimes you may have to go to a different entrance to get in a building.
3. Have alternate baby-carrying possibilities. The hubs and I learned from our American Museum of Natural History experience that people love to take the elevators even when they’re perfectly capable of taking stairs. Our elevator experience was better at the Museum of Modern Art, but pack a baby-wearing device on the chance that elevators are slow or consistently crowded. You can check your stroller, wear your baby and get an extra calorie burn while you’re at it!
4. Watch for traffic. Be aware that if your baby is in a stroller, he or she is two feet in front of you. And remember to make your own street-crossing decisions—don’t automatically follow the crowd.
5. Baby-friendly restaurants. Restaurants in big cities come in all shapes and sizes, and they are not all created equal on the baby-friendly front. When we met Jenn for dinner, we nixed a too-loud and too-crowded restaurant and bypassed one that was too intimate until we found one that we could stroll into, check our stroller and pull up a high chair. Just be flexible on the food front. You can fine dine in your old age!
6. The changing table challenge. Take advantage of changing tables when you can find them. If you’ve ever had to find a restroom for yourself in NYC, you know it can be a challenge and that it helps to be a paying customer. Changing tables are much more likely to be at museums and family-friendly restaurants than in tiny eateries that barely accommodate the average human in their restroom facilities.
What have you learned from big-city travels with little ones? Share your tips below! (And don’t forget to check out Jenn’s recap of her half marathon!) —Erin