Living in New York City is by far the most amazing place to be with a new baby, especially when he or she is under 12 months. Don’t feel like you have to hide out in your apartment. Grab a couple diapers and a bottle, and find a class that you can experience with your infant in tow.
There is an abundance of classes and activities to choose from in New York City. This is a great thing, but it can also be overwhelming. How can we navigate the most appropriate classes for our wee ones in that first year? Keep it stress free, and sign up for classes that can be a bonding experience between you and your new baby, and other new parents. I found it fruitless to go to classes where someone was trying to teach my infant something. Make sure the classes are focused on play and on making connections with other new parents.
Here are my top four picks for baby classes and my favorite museum to stroll while my son was an infant.
This class is my top pick, and a true gem for a new urban parent. New parents can completely relax in a serene and aesthetically calming environment while children experience gentle exploration and socialization through play. Simple toys, songs and snacks create a beautiful rhythm for 90 minutes once or twice a week. Starts at six months.
This movement class is the best secret in town -- it’s not hugely marketed like many of the commercial classes, so consider this your tip. My son was in Dionne’s class for over a year, and I gained tremendous knowledge of his stages of physical development and how to encourage him to practice fundamental patterns of movement. Dionne not only comes from a professional dance background, she is a master with children and parents. She knows her stuff when it comes to understanding the connection between the mind and body, and knows all about a child’s growth and development. Starts at eight weeks.
3. Rubin Museum
When Cabin Fever hits during the chilly months, and you just need to get out of the apartment, this will become your urban mommy and baby sanctuary. It is rarely crowded and is a peaceful and beautiful place to stroll around with your baby. The café food is delicious, and the gift shop has an incredible selection of children’s books. I became a member when my son was an infant, and it became our default go to place for an indoor retreat in the gorgeous Himalayan culture. For any age.
One of the best skills you can teach your child is to swim. Drowning is the second leading cause for unintentional death for children. Swimming is also a wonderful way to bond with your baby and build a strong sense of trust between baby and parent. I started my son in this class at four months, and now at three years, he is swimming independently and loves going to the beach every weekend. I did trek down to the TriBeCa flagship location every week for two years because they have a very comfortable pool heated to 90 degrees. Bonus! This is also a nice gentle workout for the parent, which is always useful. Starts at six months.
It’s a good idea to expose children to live music. The Music Together program has been around for more than 25 years and is a great way to engage your child in music, sound and rhythm. While I am confident all the musically inclined teachers are great, I highly recommend seeking out the very special Erin Lee, who has a very hip children’s band called Up Past Bedtime. She played the guitar for my son’s class like a folk star and started his appreciation for song. Starts at any age.