Sure, you have a stroller and heaps of gear to schlep around, and the cooler temps are creeping. But, your new-parent badge has opened the door to a whole new world of activities, resources and friends in and around Chicago. Before your baby turns one (and that happens much faster than you think!), and in a post-social-distancing Chicago, make sure to check these off your bucket list.
Get newborn photos.
Babies seem to change from one minute to the next. Preserve those first precious moments with a photo session. Many local photographers give you the option to get the shots done at your home or in their studio. Some faves are TK Photography, Edyta Grazman, Simply by Suzy, Rachel Beltzman, A Little Photo Studio, Alicia's Photography and Classic Kids.
Stroll through museums.
The Museum of Contemporary Art offers a free stroller tour on the first Wednesday of each month, 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. If natural history is more your thing, The Field Museum conducts a 45-60 minute museum highlights tour daily. If your little one is ready to get in the action, head to the Shedd Aquarium, where babies love to watch the fish float by. For more ideas on museums to explore, check out our story Chicago’s Best Museums for Curious Kids.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Chicago's museums have reopened, but some tours are on hold.
Join a supportive group.
In the city, GRASP Group and The Chicago New Moms Group get you out of the house and into a circle of parents in a similar life stage, tackling the tough parenting subjects and connecting you to new friends. If you live in the northern suburbs, check out Starting Out Right at New Mother, New Baby in Northbrook.
Explore an indoor green scene.
Dance with fluttering friends at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's Judy Istock Butterfly Haven and find tropical plants galore at Garfield Park Conservatory. You’ll be tricked into believing it’s a balmy summer day inside both. The bonus? Admission is free for Illinois residents on Thursdays at the Nature Museum and is always free (with a suggested donation) at Garfield Park.
Learn new lullabies.
Sing while you can, before baby is old enough to protest! Fa-la-la-la-la right into Old Town School of Music’s Lullabies class to sing sweet tunes to your 0-5-month-old baby or schedule yourself for one of Mr. Dave's Music's virtual or in-person classes. You can start by trying a no-strings-attached drop-in music class at the cozy boutique Monica + Andy or see where Little Miss Ann.
Once you’re cleared to exercise, there are many baby-friendly classes to choose from. Join Active Moms Club’s From the Core: Postnatal Recovery to gradually increase the intensity of your workout to rebuild your strength as you mingle with other moms and babies. Cocoon Care has a variety of classes designed just for moms. Fit4Mom classes are offered all over the city and suburbs.
Take them for their first football game.
As a charter team of the NFL, The Chicago Bears celebrated their 100th season in 2019! Congrats to them! They teamed up with Advocate Health Care to offer a Mamava Lactation Suite, believing mama Bears deserve a clean, comfortable and dignified place to use a breast pump or breastfeed distraction-free — anywhere, anytime.
Join the Cubs Fan Club!
Gotta start out early turning baby into a Cubs fan and there's no better way than the Newborn Fan Club. Sign up to receive a baby blanket, Cubs bib set, personalized 8x10 Wrigley Field Marquee photo and wooden Cubs photo frame.
Try mommy-and-me yoga.
Stay Zen at Sweet Pea’s Studio in Lakeview or Bloom Yoga Studio in Lincoln Square. Classes start when baby is only four weeks, and there are options for tots so you can continue as your little one grows.
Head to a play date.
Playdates are at a minimum right now because of COVID, but you can jump on one of Bump Club and Beyond's helpful webinars. Also, check out Neighborhood Parents Network which offers many playdate options, including ones specifically for working moms and moms over 35.
Attend a breastfeeding clinic.
One of the toughest tasks to tackle when you bring baby home is breastfeeding. The Lactation Partners offers in-home consultations, teleconferencing and also periodically hosts webinars.
Get a crawling coach.
One of our favorite classes for baby during the first year is the new Bubbles Academy Core Development: Pre-Crawlers. Crawlers can build upon their skills with tummy time, stretching, balancing and core strength activities.
Plunge into swimming lessons.
After baby is four months, get them in the pool at Goldfish Swim School or Foss Swim School for a baby-parent swim lesson. With locations in the city and 'burbs, these are great places to warm up on a cold day. Get the lowdown on other local swim schools in our story 7 Swimming Schools That Will Float Your Boat.
COVID-19 UPDATE: You may not be ready to dive into the water, but stay connected with Goldfish Swim School via their online activities and learn how to get little ones comfortable in water using the bathtub, courtesy of Foss Swim School.
Take a (mall) walk!
Enjoy the new (and expecting) parent parking spot at Nordstrom in North Bridge on Michigan Avenue or the free parking at Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, and hit the mall to buy yourself something new now that baby is here!
Kick start early literacy development.
Check out nearby libraries to sign up for baby storytime classes. Though the format of each class is a bit different, expect some combination of singing, reading aloud and playing. Both drop-in classes and on-going series are offered by the Chicago Public Libraries.
Find a good babysitter.
There's lots to do around town with baby, but it's nice to step away from time to time for a bit of R&R. Check out our list of babysitting services that will help you build your sitter bench.
Pretend it's spring in Lincoln Park.
Spend a morning at the park along the lake. You can hit Green City Market for a snack and lots of eye candy for baby.
Meet new parents online.
If you can’t get out because of Covid-19 or are still recovering from childbirth, connect on Facebook! Groups like Mamatribe and Northwest Suburbs Moms have large followings where local parents connect and help one another out.
Have a smashing first birthday.
Celebrate baby’s first birthday with a Smash Cake Photo Session! TK Photography offers a full-service mini-session complete with a cake, backdrop and the cleanup as you capture baby turning one.
Try a little bit of everything.
If the thought of signing up for all these classes is overwhelming (understandably so given your schedule — or lack thereof), sign up for Pearachute. Choose a plan and get instant drop-in access to some of Chicago’s most popular baby classes...even some fitness for moms, complete with childcare!
Lastly: Breathe. Smile. And enjoy every moment!
It’s the simplest advice, but oh so true. Save some time to soak in those baby snuggles while you can.
— Lisa Snart and Lindsay Pinchuk
Featured photo credit: sathyatripodi via Pixabay