So you’ve survived life with a newborn in NYC, congrats. Now it’s time to make the most of the toddler years in the Big Apple. But navigating the city you love as a parent is a whole different ball game than it was during those childless years. You most likely never had to plan out your subway route in advance, making sure to utilize only those stations with an elevator, or research which libraries in your nabe have the best story times. You probably didn’t think you would have to switch to a gym that provides childcare or find ways to meet parents whose kids are the same age, but here you are. Raising kids is challenging enough, but raising kids in NYC is like nothing else. But don’t worry—we’re here to help. Check out this list of 25 things every NYC parent of a toddler needs to know and get ready to hit the streets with your tot!
1.Take Advantage Of All That Living In The Greatest City In The World Has To Offer
New York City is pretty much one big playground, and there’s always something going on. Take your toddler for a walk and have them explore the sights of the city, remember you may be jaded by the famous architecture but your tot likely isn’t. Or travel to one of the piers to check out the boats—toddlers love water! If you’ve already explored every inch of this city with your kid and are fresh out of ideas, check out our events calendar where we let you know the latest and greatest things to do in NYC with kids. And here’s some of our top spots for toddler fun in NYC, inside and out.
2. Hitch a (Safe) Ride
Most New Yorkers do not own a car, and even if they do, it’s not the most convenient mode of transportation to get around town. Hopping in an Uber or a Lyft is a super convenient way to get to play dates, classes, and doctor’s appointments. Many big-name companies offer a car seat option for just a bit more money. Uber and Lyft offer forward-facing carseats (check out our test-drive of Lyft’s here), while smaller companies such as Legends Limousine in Brooklyn and Kidmoto (download the app), provide cars with forward and rear-facing seats. Your little one will be saying “Taxi!” in no time!
3. Get Some Help Around The House
Your kid is now walking and talking and eating and playing and likely making a big ol’ mess. Rather than try to keep up with your mini Tasmanian Devil, how about hiring someone to help you out? Even if your apartment is the size of a shoebox, an extra set of hands can definitely be a big relief. Check out the Handy app for a booking. They usually have deals for first time customers and base the time needed to clean your apartment on how many bedrooms and bathrooms you have.
4. Get It Delivered
From groceries to pharmacy items, to dinner to necessities for your pet, convenience is key for New Yorkers, and let’s face it, some times it’s just not possible to leave the house, especially with your toddler in tow. Luckily, you can pretty much have anything delivered, sometimes even within an hour. Thanks to apps like Instacart and Postmates you can stay home with your fussy or sick toddler or avoid bad weather by having things brought straight to you. New Yorkers are famous for ordering in food, but we’ve definitely taken it up a notch with all the other things we can get delivered right to our doorstep.
5. Send It Out
Since toddlers go through about 2-3 changes of clothes each day and you will more than likely be changing once or twice due to potty training catastrophes or the day’s art project, your laundry is sure to pile up and quick! Luckily, there’s an app for that. Apps like Cleanly or FlyCleaners make it super easy to get your clothes cleaned. Simply schedule a time for your dirty clothes to be picked up, customize your wash and dry settings, and viola! Your clothes will arrive clean and folded, and you will have saved some much needed time and sanity.
via MTA Facebook page
6. Know Your Way Around The Subway
Hopping on a subway is one of the great perks of living in NYC. While not the most glamorous mode of transport or–nicest smelling– it can be a super fast way of getting around. Most likely you hopped a train once or twice with your newborn strapped to you. But now that your kid is a bit older, wearing them is not so easy and you’ve taken to really relying on your stroller. That means you need to get to know which subway stations are most convenient for traveling with your kid and all the stuff they come with. Take a look at this map for the accessibility stations (read: those with elevators) near you, which will hopefully make getting around NYC a little bit easier. Do yourself a favor and download an app to your smartphone for maps, suggested routes, arrival times and more. We like the Transit app. Head here for a full list of all apps MTA-related.
7. Discover Some Local Mommy Meetups
Meetups are a great place to get to know other parents in your neighborhood, which will not only be a fantastic excuse for getting out of the house, but it will also serve as a great resource. Who better to ask questions about raising kids in NYC than another NYC mom or dad? Also, if your little one is not in school or a playgroup this is a great way to get them some socialization and to make some friends. Here is a list of great Mommy Groups in NYC for your reference.
8. Join A Parent Facebook Group
While these groups can be somewhat controversial (discussions can get heated at times), they are also a great resource for moms who want to get to know their neighborhoods a bit better. The hyperlocal groups like BoCoCa Moms, Chelsea Mommas, or Forest Hills Parents are great for figuring out what to do on a rainy day or even scoring an awesome second-hand stroller. Just pose a question and you are sure to receive several reliable answers in no time.
photo: Smart Sitting
9. Find A Trusted Babysitter
UrbanSitter is a babysitting app used by many NYC parents. It works by connecting to social networks you are already a part of–think your kid’s school, Facebook, moms groups, and more—and picks babysitters for you based off of that. You can see reviews from local parents, as well as the sitter’s rate (which they get 100% of), and even personalize interview questions based on your family’s needs. It’s great for finding a regular babysitter or something last minute. For more babysitting services, check out our roundup here.
via Children’s Museum of Manhattan Facebook page
10. Visit A Museum…Or Two
New York City is busting at the seams with museums being that it is the cultural epicenter of the world. Check out the American Museum of Natural History and watch your child’s jaw drop when they see the dinosaurs for the first time. Or check out the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for their great hands-on exhibits. Your little one can touch anything and everything (bring hand sanitizer) and quite possibly make a new friend in the process. There’s also The Brooklyn Children’s Museum where kids can explore a sensory room, or have fun with water play in the Totally Tots section, or even get to know the BK a little better in the World Brooklyn exhibit. Best of all, most of these offer free admission on certain days, so be sure to take advantage of that! After you’ve hit all the big ones, check out the ones on our list of great, but overlooked museums in NYC!
11. Take a Class
Mommy and me classes are a great way for you and your toddler to have some fun and try something new. In NYC, classes for parents and toddlers are seemingly endless and include everything from yoga to cooking to music to art. Check out our list of Mommy and Me Classes in NYC and find the one that’s right for you and your tot.
via Bilingual Birdies Facebook page
12. Bring the class to you
If you can wrangle up a few like-minded parents, plenty of places will hold a class in your home. Private Picassos offers art classes for as few as 2-3 kids and Little Maestros will hold a music class at your playgroup! You can even have your little one and their friends try their hands at learning another language with Bilingual Birdie’s private lesson options.
13. Go To The Gym
While some moms get right back to the gym after their 6-week postpartum checkup, for others, it can take a bit longer to feel like themselves again. Getting to the gym and breaking a sweat is one of the best ways for moms (and really anyone) to feel good and get healthy. There are lots of great gyms in NYC that make it easy to stay in shape or get back in shape, because they offer reliable childcare. Big-name gyms like Equinox, Crunch, and NYSC offer childcare and specific locations and other gyms and boutique fitness studios are getting in on the action, too. Bar Method in Cobble Hill offers childcare for just $15 while you take one of their classes. At Club Fitness in Astoria childcare is included with your membership, what a perk!!! Check out more gyms in NYC that offer childcare here!
photo: via Cozy’s Cuts for Kids Facebook page
14. Get Your Kids Hair Cut
Now that your child is a few years old, it might be time for their first haircut. Make it a fun experience at places like Milk And Cookies Kids Spa, Cozy’s Cuts For Kids, or Sharkey’s Cuts For Kids. Each of these places make getting a haircut a super fun experience and will even offer certificates for first timers!
15. Drop ‘Em Off
Let’s face it, you’re going to need some time away from your tot sooner or later. If you want to get some space, without hiring a nanny or babysitter, considered a school that allows for drop offs or gentle separation classes. Centers like Bright Horizons offer drop-ins for a reasonable rate and Kids At Work offers gentle separation classes that will allow you to build up to a drop off.
via Flickr user Michael Coté
16. Visit Your Local Library
Libraries are such a great NYC resource! Every NYC public library offers a story time for young kids. Just go on their website, click on your local branch and plan a day at the library. (Find Brooklyn libraries here, and Queens libraries here.) You can even have your little one pick out a new book while you’re there. A word of advice: it’s best to get to all events (storytimes, singalongs, etc.) early—they can be very popular and sometimes have to turn people away!
via City Treehouse Facebook page
17. Get To Know Indoor Play Spaces
Want a safe, fun place where our toddler can run around make a mess, and be loud? Then check out an indoor play space near you. There are lots to choose from all over New York City—click here for some of our favorites. Need to stay in Brooklyn? Try these. Looking in Queens—these spots are great!
18. Find The Right Stroller
Chances are you did your research on the best stroller for city living before your baby was born. But if you chose one that’s just not cutting it in these streets, now is the time to up your game. You’re going to want something that is sturdy, yet compact, that’s also light enough to lug up and down the subway stairs. You may even have a different stroller for different things (I do), but if you’re still feeling a bit lost, check out this list of the newest and best strollers of 2018 and find the one that’s perfect for your family.
19. Then Get It Cleaned
New Yorkers use their strollers a lot! Between all the walking, subway rides, and snacks on the go, your stroller is bound to get pretty beat up and dirty. Did you know that there is a service for that? Businesses like Tot Squad not only offer stroller cleaning services, but repair services as well. This service is great when your stroller needs a little TLC.
via Micro Scooter Facebook page
20. Find The Right Scooter
If you’ve walked near a playground or school in the past few years, you are likely to have seen droves of kids on their scooters, and not just older ones, young kids, too! Kids as young as 1 1/2 are scooting around the city like total pros, so much so, that many schools have adopted a “no scooter parking” policy. Scooters are a great way to get your little one to pick up the pace, I mean, have you ever walked any where with a toddler? A five minute walk can easily take 20 mins, but not with a scooter. Some of the best scooters for city kids are the Micro Mini and the Radio Flyer, which don’t require too much balancing on your child’s part, the scooter stays upright on its own. Now just hook ’em up with an awesome helmet and you’re good to go! (Hot tip: there’s an actual scooter track you can take a test ride on at the new Micro Kickboard store in Hudson Yards!)
21. Explore Central Park
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, Central Park has got it all! Seriously, any time of year makes for a great time to visit Central Park with a toddler. There are endless playgrounds, water parks, tons of grassy spots for a picnic, and walking paths for when you’re not sure what to do. You can explore the park every day and always find something new. It’s a great go-to spot for you and your little adventurer!
photo: Mimi O’Connor
22. Have Some Water Fun
Splash pads are popping up all over NYC and we are so glad that they are. Water playgrounds are a great way to cool off in the summer months, especially if you can’t get to a beach or pool. Slap on some sunscreen and a bathing suit, pack a snack and lots of water, and plan for a whole day of water fun in NYC. Check out the newly opened Chelsea Waterside Park, or Domino Park in Brooklyn. Central Park has some great ones too and Vanderbilt Playground in Prospect Park is great for toddlers. Check out our list of water playgrounds in NYC and get splashing!
photo: via Brookfield Place Facebook page
23. Good Morning Sunshine
Toddlers are not exactly known for sleeping in, so if your little guy or gal is up with the sun each and every morning, it can definitely make for a pretty long day. Luckily, since NYC is the city that never sleeps, there are plenty of toddler-appropriate places to venture to. When it’s warm out, head to the High Line in Chelsea, the Brooklyn Bridge, or hop the Staten Island Ferry for a fun early morning adventure. When it gets colder check out Brookfield Place Winter Garden which opens at 5am, or UrbanSpace Vanderbilt for an early breakfast. Heading out that early is sure to score you a nap on the way home!
24. Stay up to date on your phone with NYC alerts
One of the most invaluable resources for any NYC parent are the NYC Gov alerts you can get on your phone. From street closures, to weather alerts, to changes in public transportation, you can get it all sent to you via text. But don’t worry, you won’t be bombarded with useless information as you can customize exactly what alerts you receive via the website. And if text alerts aren’t your thing, you can always dial 311 for the most up to date NYC info.
photo: Lavender Blues
Drop in to a class with your little one. From yoga, to singing and dancing, to just playing around and storytime, they are all over the city. Check our calendar for what’s happening today. For recurring ones in Brooklyn, click here! For Queens drop-ins, click here!
26. Slow down!
Remember New York City moves at a rapid pace and even our toddlers can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the big city. Remember to take a breath and enjoy this special time with them while you can.