The days are long but the years are short. Not to get too sentimental, because truly the first year with your baby can sometimes feel like it is dragging, but it will be over in the blink of an eye. As you struggle with sleep schedules, delight in first smiles, and watch as your baby visibly changes before your eyes you may also be wondering exactly what you should try to do while they are still so small. While they are in this stage of incredible growth and exploration, it’s a great excuse to explore some highlights in Philly, as well as dip your toes into the world of parenting with classes and experiences designed just for new parents and their babies.
There is plenty to see and do in Philadelphia with a baby, either to mark a first, start a new tradition, or find an excuse to get out of the house and interact with other parents! Here are our picks of some of the best, first by season, then year-round.
1. In the summer
Check out one of the many spray grounds and splash pads, where you can beat the heat and your little one can safely enjoy their first water experience. Whether you take them to the shallow pool at Sister Cities, enjoy the sights at Dilworth and Love Park, or want to play on a tot playground, your baby will love the puddles and sprays. Take a road trip and introduce baby to nature at a waterfall or let them feel their first ocean breeze at the Jersey Shore.
2. In the fall
Head to one of the local farms for a classic pumpkin photo op. Your little one may not be able to help you pick the pumpkin, but it will look exceptionally cute propped up or sitting on one. Plus many of the farms have goats, chickens, and other domesticated animals that your baby will love (real live stuffed animals!).
3. In the winter
Christmas in Philadelphia is really an amazing and beautiful experience. See the tree at City Hall, check out Christmas Village, and watch the lights at Macys. Babies love the lights and music, plus its a great reason to get out when you are starting to feel stir crazy from the cold.
4. In the spring
Springtime in Philadelphia often feels like four seasons are fighting for dominance. Even if you can’t count on the weather, you can count on the cherry blossoms and delicious spring fruit to see and enjoy. Colors come alive, the Easter Bunny comes to town, and the Philadelphia Science Festival brings delights for all ages.
5. Take a class together
There are a growing number of options across Philadelphia and the suburbs for you to find a time that suits your location and schedule. We love music classes because it helps build gross motor skills and introduces your baby to new words, including the alphabet and early counting. Art classes are great for babies that can sit up on their own as they engage with new textures and colors.
6. Explore the colors and shapes of magic gardens
With mosaics of all different colors, shapes, and textures, the Magic Gardens is truly one of the coolest places to begin to build your little one into an art lover. It’s also great because it is s uniquely and perfectly Philadelphia.
Photo credit: Philadelphia's magic gardens
7. Check out your library for a storytime
With so many free library locations throughout the city, it’s easy to find one nearby that hosts a body-centric storytime. These often function as more than just reading books and can include crafts, songs, and circle time activities. Plus librarians are always in the know on the best books for baby (and parents) at every age and stage. Get a library card for your little one and sign up for personalized age recommendations and activities.
8. Ride the carousel and watch the fountain at Franklin Square
The carousel at Franklin Square still delights my children, but their first time around and around was really special. And the setting at Franklin Square is just perfect, especially with the music and lights show that takes place in the Franklin Square fountain. Plus, if your baby is a crawler or early walker, the tot-sized playground is perfect for the early exploration of climbing and sliding.
9. Enjoy your first baseball game as a family
While you might think a baby is too young to enjoy a baseball game, taking your little one to the park to see the Phillies play is so much fun. There’s excellent people watching, a great playground for them to crawl around and explore, plus they can get an honorary First-Game certificate for your baby book.
Enjoy a ball game with the littlest fan in the family.
10. Make your first museum visit an immersive cultural experience
We have so many wonderful museums in Philadelphia that are great for kids, and you will definitely get to check them out as your child grows. But, in that first year, while the baby is less mobile, the art museum is your must do. There are designated stroller tours so you can join up with other parents as you take in the arts with baby. Art splash is accessible if you want to stop and read a story while you look over the parkway.
11. Experience their first animal encounter
Babies and baby animals. What could be better? Even if there are no animal babies at the Philadelphia Zoo, your little one will delight in the animals of all sizes. They can get up close in the Kid Zoo U, or stare through the glass panel at the big cats. You can also opt for a trip to Camden Adventure Aquarium, with lighting that really appeals to the younger set. Your baby will be mesmerized by the jellyfish and excited by the big fish!
12. Find a caregiver group
The first year is full of delights, but it is also full of struggles. Less sleep, new stresses, and fears, plus balancing everything else you already had going on in your life. This is where caregiver groups are so special. They connect you to others who are experiencing many of the same challenges, so you don’t feel isolated. Plus, you can make some wonderful life-long friendships with a built-in friend for your little one! There are classes and events all around the city for parents to find their “village” and maybe even learn new skills!