You made it through the first year of parenthood and now you’re the proud owner of an adorable, running, screaming, jumping, curious and opinionated toddler. And you thought navigating the city with a baby was tough! You know better than anyone that toddlers are a lot of work. So make your life a lot easier with Red Tricycle’s top 25 list of ways to play, eat, run, celebrate, workout, clean, dress, cook and have fun with your energetic toddler in NYC.
1. Let them run wild. Let’s be real – your kid can run from the living room to the kitchen in 2.5 steps. So escape your four walls and take them to one of the numerous indoor play spaces in the city. From drop-in passes to annual memberships, you have the best access to indoor slides, ball pits, tunnels, and trampolines. Play at City Treehouse where toddlers can splash in a giant indoor water table, hide in a treehouse, or bounce in the ball room. (Word to the wise: Bring a change of clothes.)
Photo courtesy of Yelp via Jules C.
2. Keep ‘em busy with classes. From gym to art to music and storytime, drop-in classes are a tot’s best friend. Need to pass an hour before nap time? Check out these tot-friendly classes in Queens, classes in Brooklyn or kid-friendly yoga across the boroughs. Or make art and music collide at the Children’s Museum of the Arts Wee Arts drop-in class where kiddos can explore playdough, paint, blocks, markers, glue and more (without the mess at home).
3. Make a splash outside. Remember running through a sprinkler in your backyard as a kid? You can still cool off your tot in the city at your nearest outdoor splash park. Bring the water shoes and sunscreen to these favorite Hudson River Park splash parks. At Pier 51 Playground at Horatio Street, tots can wade through a stream and play on a pirate ship or at Pier 25 Playground at North Moore Street, tots can play with 8 water features including buckets that dump water on their heads. Comfort stations are located at both playgrounds.
Photo courtesy of Hudson River Park Trust
4. Beautify at home. If you don’t have enough ME time in your day (does anyone?), try a good ole’ fashioned house call. Book a one hour massage during nap time with a licensed massage therapist from Zeel Massage On Demand. Or get Glam Squad to send a stylist to your home for a blow out before date night. What about a mani/pedi with Nail Gypsy or a spray tan with Gotham Glow – both in the comfort of your own home? Book your appointments with ease using an app on your phone. Now, that’s what we call service!
5. Clean a dirty stroller. Let’s face it – you’ve spilled coffee all over your stroller so many times, you forgot what color it really is. Not to mention the mess of on-the-go snacks (is that a raisin or poop?). It’s time to let CleanBeeBaby fix all that with their quick and easy stroller cleaning service available at many locations around the city. Plus, they now offer a mobile service thats comes to you with eco-friendly cleaning products for carseats, highchairs, playards and footmuffs.
6. Teach your toddler about healthy food. If your tot is addicted to squeeze pouches, it’s time to introduce them to a variety of new healthy food options. The Creative Kitchen hosts playdates and classes to teach toddlers how to make fun recipes while reinforcing numbers, colors and shapes. Little hands are kept busy exploring healthy fruit and veggie ingredients and leave with a full belly. You may even learn a thing or two!
7. Bring kid classes to you. Tired of running all over the city? Get a group of friends together and schedule a weekly class that comes to your home like music with Little Maestros, sports with Super Soccer Stars and language with Bilingual Birdies. Teachers bring all their supplies and equipment with them, and of course, clean it all up for you when they leave.
8. Sweat at the gym but don’t sweat the childcare. If your post-baby workout tape is on it’s last leg, hit the gym with tot in tow. From the family-friendly YMCA to posh Equinox, the city is packed with kid-friendly gyms offering child care services. Fees and reservation requirements vary so pick the most convenient place to break a sweat and work it mama! It feels so good to drop the tot and let the endorphins run wild.
9. Get help around the house. We all need a little help sometimes… okay, all the time! Turn to Handybook – a home cleaning and handyman scheduling service. Need curtains hung? Check. Walls to be painted? Check. Floors to be polished? Check. Air conditioner installed? Check. They pre-approve their professionals and you pay by the hour. It’s the easiest way to get things done.
10. Stop hoarding and start swapping. Go to a Little Swappies event where you can purge your gently-used clothes, gear and toys. and then take home used items for free. Save-the-date for Little Swappies in Cobble Hill on April 27th and in Chelsea on May 31st. Kid-friendly activities on-site entertain the little munchkins while you hunt for treasures. Leftover items are then donated to charities for families in need.
Photo courtesy of Little Swappies / Sofia Lynn Photography
11. Shop used clothing. Kids go through clothes like moms go through wine – neither last very long. If you’ve given up dreams of buying everything new, turn to a kid’s consignment store. Clementine Consignment in Greenwich Village carries designer brands (Lily Pulitzer, Rosie Pope, Ralph Lauren, Keens) from maternity to toddler size 4T. Jane’s Exchange in the East Village carries maternity to children’s size 12 (Kate Spade, Land of Nod, Mini Boden, Nike, Gap) as well as toddler gear such as booster seats, portable cribs, bikes and toys. Let’s make a deal!
12. Call a kid-friendly car service. You want your tot to be safe, but who wants to lug around a carseat? Call Kids Car NY, a car service that provides the carseat and will even chauffeur your little one to and fro (with or without an adult). Or if your looking for the convenience of car service on demand, give UBER a try. Using an app on your iPhone, request a pick up from cars already in your area. They come straight to your front door. So no more schlepping to hail a taxi.
13. Make dinner easier. The last thing you want to worry about is what’s for dinner. Sign up for a meal delivery service from Plated or Blue Apron. They send you the raw ingredients and step by step instructions for making a delicious and healthy meal for your family. You can select vegetarian or meat and fish, the quantity of servings, and how many meals per week. It’s dinner made simple.
14. Throw an awesome birthday bash. Celebrate your favorite munchkin and keep the mess out of your home at one of these top birthday party venues for toddlers. And score some sweet goodie bag swag at these unique stores around the city. Think bubbles, stickers, board boards, and puzzles for tots. Kids this age will love Art Farm in the City with art, music and an indoor petting zoo to keep the kids busy. Make it a party to remember.
Photo courtesy of Art Farm in the City
15. Make new mom friends. You don’t need us to tell you how to make friends, but it’s a survival technique in raising a toddler. Remember, it takes a village. There are a ton of playgroups out there based on your interests like multi-lingual, working moms, or your neighborhood. Start with this mom group list or do a quick Google search of your own.
16. Spend time away from your tot. That’s right, a balanced mom is a happy mom. Go out with your non-mom friends. Go out with your husband. Schedule a regular night out with a babysitter and stick to it. Your tot will love the new attention from a professional babysitter. Websites like Sittercity allow you to search for sitters by location, age, language, or other keywords and even offer background checks.
17. Listen to storytime. If you’re reciting “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” by heart, it’s time for a new story. Check out your local bookstores and other kid-friendly venues with weekly storytimes. For example, the Scholastic Store in Soho has free events for all ages from weekly storytimes to music classes to character visits and author readings. (Your tot will go nuts over a lifesize Clifford the Big Red Dog!) Don’t forget about the numerous New York Public Library branches that offer free toddler music and storytimes, too.
Photo courtesy of Scholastic Store
18. Explore a museum. Before you run off to the ‘burbs, take advantage of the plethora of museums for toddlers. From the “whale room” (Hall of Biodiversity) at the American Museum of Natural History to the “intestine maze” (Digestion Exhibit) at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, tots can run and explore with hands on activities. Plus, don’t miss the water play area and art studio in the Totally Tots exploration area at The Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Even better, here’s how to get into 14 museums for free.
19. What does a fox say? Say hello to real live animals that roar, snort, growl, and yip, thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s five zoological parks in NYC: the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium. Your animal-loving tot will surely enjoy a day observing wild animals and getting up close and personal with llamas, goats, cows, pigs, and sheep in the petting zoos. Plus, don’t miss the newly renovated Children’s Zoo coming to the Bronx Zoo this summer 2014.
20. Plan a playdate. Project Playdate is a drop off childcare service that specializes in group playdates and field trips throughout Manhattan. Before your weekend night out, simply drop your youngster off for a Pajama Party at a kid activity center where they can take part in games, music, movies, and even dinner under the supervision of experienced babysitters (3:1 ratio) for three hours. Or schedule a private group playdate in your home for the kiddos while all the adults go out.
21. Get Fit and Fight Cancer. Lose your butt while kicking cancer’s butt. Join The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Moms In Training, a 10-week training program with the goal to complete a 6.2 mile walk or run on June 14th in Central Park and to raise money for cancer research. You’ll meet up with other moms every Saturday morning at a location near you and run/walk/stretch together as a team in preparation for the big finale 10K race. Toddlers in strollers are welcome – yours might even cheer you on.
Photo courtesy of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
22. Give the girls a lift. Let’s be honest – they ain’t what they used to be. Whether your done breastfeeding or if you’ve dropped a few pounds chasing a toddler, it’s time for a proper bra fitting at a lingerie store like Intimacy. Give yourself a break and purchase some pretty undergarments that make you feel like the sexy mama you are.
23. Prep a big bro or sis. The concourse level of FAO Schwartz has a Newborn Nursery. Perfect for a soon-to-be big brother or sister, at Newborn Nursery make-believe mommies and daddies can “adopt” a newborn with life-like dolls. Each doll comes with adoption papers and “parents” receive their “babies” from an FAO Schwarz nurse.
24. Find the ultimate kids cut. No matter what you’ve been waiting for, it’s time to trim your toddler’s mane. Specialty kids’ hair salons have distractions galore like tot-sized chairs shaped like a taxi or boat, kids shows on TV, bubbles, lollipops and go-getter staff to make the haircut a success. Check out Doodle Doo’s in the West Village, Beehives & Buzzcuts in Stuyvesant Town, and Cozy Cuts for Kids on Upper East Side. No more excuses – get that trim!
Photo courtesy of Cozy Cuts for Kids
25. Most importantly, take advantage of free. The city is busting at the seams with free fun for kids and families. Get out and enjoy all the city has to offer – start with parks, playgrounds, storytimes, and museums. Then, explore this list of free indoor kids activities. Now, go have fun with your toddler!
What’s your favorite activity for toddlers in the city?