Have you just brought home your first baby? Or do you have a young baby at home and just moved to the Kalamazoo area? If so, you may be wondering where the best places are to meet other moms, listen to stories, play with your children, or catch a bite to eat without feeling guilty if your baby throws half the food on the floor. This list will give you a great jumping point for getting your feet wet and getting out of the house!
Perfect Places To Network And Meet Other Moms
- Talk about care of babies up to 1 year with other parents and caregivers. This program is led by Connie Koning, RN, and is nursing friendly. Currently every Wednesday afternoon from 1:30pm-3:30pm unless otherwise noted in Kalamazoo Public Library calendar.
- Head over to this website to locate one of the many mom/parent groups in the area. Don’t see one you like? Consider starting one yourself to connect with others with similar ages or interests.
Storytimes To Enjoy A Story With Your Baby
- A 20 minute storytime for 0-23 months with flannel stories, fingerplays, and creative movement. Open play follows and developmentally appropriate toys are provided. This storytime typically has two sessions, one at 9:30am and one at 10:30am and changes days depending on the month, so check the library’s calendar for details.
- Stories, songs, fingerplays, and fun activities designed for preschoolers from birth to age 5, but younger and older siblings welcome. Children must be accompanied by adult caregiver. This storytime is one hour long. Please check the library calendar for exact days and times. Some are currently held on Thursdays and others on Fridays.
- This 20 minute program is designed for the “Under 3” crowd: babies, early walkers and toddlers. They read a couple of quick books and there’s lots of singing and swinging. This storytime is currently held on Wednesdays and has two sessions, but check the library calendar for details.
- Barnes & Noble offers multiple story times throughout the week. Although they are usually geared for preschoolers, babies are welcome and there’s a lot of space for them to move around. Check their website for a schedule of themes or their FaceBook page.
Perfect Spots to Play Indoors
- Portage Public Library has an impressive preschool room that offers a baby area with developmentally appropriate toys up through preschool age with a play house, puppet theater, kitchen, train table, puzzles, blocks and games. It’s also a great place to meet new moms.
- This museum offers a room that is devoted to babies through preschool age. It’s manned by museum staff so older kids cannot come in and the young kids feel safe. There is a school bus to play on, light tables, puzzles, coloring, a story time for preschoolers and the theme rotates every two months so the activities and toys are always fresh and interesting and keep your little one engaged.
- Located near the carousel is a play area that is enclosed and designed for babies through preschoolers. There are things to climb on and a slide and it’s a great place to have your baby burn off some energy.
- Lights are up and the volume is down for these special shows that happen on Tuesdays afternoons for shows before 2:00pm. Infants welcome and get in free.
Wonderful Places to Play Outdoors
- Located just a short drive away in Battle Creek, Binder Park Zoo is a Kalamazoo new mom’s favorite. Nestled in the woods and stroller friendly, it’s a perfect place to take baby for his or her first experience with animals up close.
- Portage has a ton of parks that are perfect for getting out on the trails, dipping baby’s toes in the water, or just enjoying nature. From Ramona Park with an impressive playground and swimming lake to Schrier with an apple orchard and miles of woodchipped trails, there’s something for everyone. Portage is also home to the Celery Flats-Bicentennial Trail, which is perfect for walking or biking with baby and offers miles of paved trails. Ramona Park is an additional charge during the summer season or you can pick up a season pass for $25 if you’re a Portage resident.
- Kalamazoo County is home to the local splash pad at River Oaks as well as two parks with beautiful lakes for swimming. A season pass is $25, which will get you into any of the parks for the entire season.
- Take baby to Milham Park to see the ducks and geese and walk along the Portage Creek, or head to Woods Lake for the perfect shallow lake for babies and toddlers. Kalamazoo also has Bronson Park and Arcadia Festival Place downtown which host many events throughout the year, including Bronson’s Park Friday lunches during the summer with live music. There’s certain to be a park near you to enjoy with baby with over thirty options!
- Kalamazoo Nature Center offers miles of trails, some stroller friendly, as well the Stroller Stroll a one hour walk on stroller friendly trails on some Tuesday mornings. They have rehabilitated animals for baby to look at, the Source Pond where baby may catch a glimpse of a turtle or frog, and a staff who is eager to help baby enjoy the outdoors. While you’re there, check out the natural playground across the parking lot from the interpretive center or take baby to see the farm animals at DeLano Homestead during the summer. Children three and under are free.
- Free to visit, and not only about fish, the hatchery has many easy, stroller-friendly trails to spot wildlife.
Great Places to Eat
- Serving Waterstreet coffee and with inexpensive meals for both breakfast and lunch, East Egg is a great place for a new family meal. There are now two locations, one near Crossroads Mall and one on Portage Road.
- With plenty of seating, and room for car seats, Panera offers a new mom a place to sit down, have a coffee and a light breakfast and also a small outside patio for nicer weather.
- Bell’s beer garden is the perfect place to enjoy a nicer lunch or dinner outside in a friendly environment with delicious food.
- This new brewery in Portage has delicious food, drinks for mom and dad, and a children’s area, which is perfect for toddlers through young kids and for older infants to enjoy watching the fun.
- With three locations in the greater Kalamazoo area, Culver’s is a great place for lunch, dinner or dessert! There are plenty of highchairs and they even provide bibs for baby!
- With a wacky mascot that makes special appearances, Red Robin is a great place to take the family. They are especially good for families with food allergies and have a new kids’ menu with healthy choices so if you have an infant who is eating solids, it’s a great place to do baby-led weaning.
Amazing Places to Learn
- The YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo offers Shrimp/Kipper/Inia/Perch for babies starting at 6 months old with a parent or caregiver. Check their website for the current class schedule. These classes are for members or non-members.
- Aqua Babies I is a class designed for babies, 6-18 months with parent or caregiver. Check their website for the current class schedule.
- Music Makers offers a Infant/Toddler class from birth-3 years with parents or caregiver. The class is 45 minutes long and has singing, musical instruments to play and has a cd to take home.
- Three 10-week class sessions are held each year for birth-age 5. Classes are 45 minutes long and come with a cd to take home and classes include singing, moving and playing instruments.
- These classes are for birth-age 7 and include singing, dancing, playing instruments as well as home materials, including music from class, musical activities and each month’s story.
Do you have a great tip for a new mom in our area? Or your “go-to” place to take your baby? Please let us know in the comment section below.