New York City has many “must-see” attractions, from the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building to the lights of Broadway and Times Square. But locals know these sights are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to the city than what you’ll find on a “Top 10” list in the latest guidebook. And even if you have an infant in tow, you can find plenty of healthy activities that you—and baby—will enjoy.
New York City parents know that pushing a stroller through the streets is a great way to stay fit. You can walk for miles, letting your child soak up all the sights, sounds and smells of the city. For a more structured stroll, sign up for one of the many stroller exercise classes around town, from Central Park and the Upper East Side to Midtown and Battery Park. You’ll get a strength and cardio workout and your baby will benefit from the interaction with other children.
Infants as young as six weeks old can benefit from baby yoga classes, held throughout the city. These classes strengthen mom’s body while giving her time to bond with baby. Younger infants serve as “resistance” during certain yoga poses, and then receive a therapeutic massage from mom. Older infants listen to animal stories, then do animal-related yoga poses. Attend a single class or sign up for a multi-week session.
For a city sometimes referred to as the “concrete jungle,” New York has quite a few outdoor playgrounds. Some of them are found near popular sites, such as Central Park’s Ancient Playground near Fifth Avenue at 84th Street. Others may be farther off the typical tourist track, such as the animal-themed playgrounds of Riverside Park, which stretches from 62nd to 158th Streets and Riverside Drive. Baby swings, jungle gyms and water fountains will delight your infant, and the shady benches will give you both a chance to cool down.
When it’s too hot or too rainy to play outdoors, head to one of the city’s many indoor gyms for kids. Infant classes give your child a chance to stretch and play on baby-safe equipment. If you don’t want to take a multi-week class, sign up for a one-time session at The Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side. The Center, which welcomes families of all faiths, has a baby play space open to nonmembers for a nominal fee.
Combine playtime with a little learning at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on West 83rd Street. The museum, which offers free admission for children under 12 months, has exhibits for young learners. Babies can hear the ABCs from a talking dragon and practice their crawling and fine motor skills in the Baby Babble exhibit. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum also has a space for infants. They can practice crawling, standing and walking in a safe, padded environment decorated with brightly colored shapes.