For new parents, making likeminded parent friends can be a challenge. It’s a whole new world when you’re navigating it with a brand-new baby, and it helps to have a friend to talk to. Enter the parent-baby playdate—an opportunity to get out of the house, play with your little one, and meet other parents going through the same set of challenges. Read on for eight playdates to try in Portland.

photo: FIT4MOM Cedarmill

FIT4MOM
This national franchise has several chapters in Portland and offers new and expecting moms and their families several ways of getting fit while playing with their children. Classes meet outdoors in local parks when the weather is warm, and indoors at churches and community centers during the colder months. Choose from Stroller Strides, a full-body group workout moms can do with children of all ages in strollers or carriers; Body Back, an 8-week HIIT postpartum group fitness program; and Fit4Baby, a prenatal group fitness class. Outside of fitness classes, you can take part in a range of Village events on the calendar, including free family fitness days, playdates, and moms night out events.

Online: fit4mom.com

Baby Mornings at the Portland Art Museum
Missing adult company and culture during the all-consuming first year of your baby’s life? Join other arts-minded caregivers and their children under 1 on the first Thursday of every month for a slow, docent-guided tour of exhibits that will appeal to baby, too. Each tour is followed by playtime, conversation, and coffee. Sign up ahead of time and check the website for current schedule and fees.

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1219 SW Park Ave
Online: portlandartmuseum.org

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)
Though the word preschooler is in the title, this faith-based group is geared toward moms with children of all ages: from birth through school age. Groups meet on a weekly, bimonthly, or monthly basis in a wide range of settings, from churches and homes to coffee shops and hospitals. This group has a specifically Christian orientation, but mothers from all faiths are welcome. Each meeting includes refreshments and a discussion topic, and some chapters provide childcare.

Online: mops.org

photo: via Hike it Baby Kristin Hinnant

Hike it Baby
If you’re the outdoorsy type (and even if you’re not), Hike it Baby is the perfect way to combine a good workout and adult conversation with a kid-centered activity. HIB members gather in parks, at trailheads, and in neighborhoods all over Portland to walk with their children while connecting with each other. Whether you want a casual stroll at a toddler’s pace, or several miles of trail with baby nestled in the Ergo, there’s bound to be something right for you. For a sliding-scale fee (including scholarship options), you get access to the calendar of events and the Facebook page— a fantastic resource for questions about choosing the right gear for baby-wearing, camping, and hiking. Don’t see a hike that meets your needs, location, or schedule? You can sign up to host one yourself.

Online: hikeitbaby.com

Indoor Parks
Portland is home to a huge range of indoor park options, thanks to our long rainy season. That means your chances of making new parenting friends just got a little better. Check the schedule for your local community center for low-commitment, affordable weekly options. Or check out these other drop-in options for under $5.

Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks

 

Photo: USDA via Flickr

New Seasons’ New Parent and Breastfeeding Support Groups
Several locations of this popular health food store offer free, drop-in support circles for new parents. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, join other parents for an informal circle where you can share resources and get advice on everything from bottles and carriers to back-to-work strategies. These groups are often facilitated by experienced doulas and lactation specialists. Check the calendar at your local store.

Online: newseasonsmarket.com/events

MOMS Clubs® of Portland
Moms Offering Moms Support is a national group with several local chapters, open to all moms and offering a monthly calendar chock-full of playgroups, outings and monthly new member meet-ups. They even organize meal deliveries for parents of new babies and moms night out events. Complete a simple online form to inquire about chapters near you. Online: momsclub.org.

If you are looking for options, you can find a full list of Portland moms groups here.

Dads’ Groups
Though the vast majority of parent/baby playgroups are oriented toward mothers, fathers’ groups are becoming more and more popular, and Portland is at the head of the pack. Check out the events calendar at Seahorses, a retailer-turned-nonprofit community center, which hosts a New Dads Group as well as Dads After Hours, both monthly. Meetup is another great option for finding likeminded fathers through father-child playgroups.

Online: seahorsespdx.com

Other Ideas
Check Meet-up for even more playdate options, or start your own! Get the numbers for a few moms or dads you meet at library storytime or the park, and invite them to a playdate at your house. Set out snacks and beverages for the parents, a few blankets and toys for the babes. Then settle in for a few hours to connect while you play with your babies. Who knows? You might just make a friend for life.

What are your favorite local parent-baby play groups? Please share in the comments.

—Melissa Poulin