If you are itching to get out of the house and bring baby along, we have all the best things to do around Chicago
Along comes baby and life as you know it stops. Right? Not in Chicago! We know that once the baby comes along you need some time to adjust to your new “normal” and routine. But if you find yourself going stir-crazy and longing to get back out and about you may be wondering, what are the best places to go with a baby in tow around Chicago? Let this guide help you discover the best spots for a “Chicago baby” and perhaps some newfound appreciation for a longtime favorite.
1. Visit the Chicago Public Library
This is one of our top recommendations to new parents, new residents, and even visitors who will be in town for an extended stay. With more than 70 unique branches throughout Chicago, not only can you visit your local branch, but you can make it an adventure and scope out branches in other parts of the city. The Chicago Public Library is a great place to duck out of the weather to change a diaper, have a snack, or nurse a baby. Be sure to get a library card for you and your kids as well, because not only are there tons of great books to borrow, but so much more like STEM Activities, Grab ‘n Go Activity Kits, Chromebook Kits, and (our favorite) the Museum Passports!
2. Get comfortable with that new stroller
From miles of walkable paths along the lakefront to what feels like endless greenspace and urban sidewalks, Chicago is a very walkable town! Check out your own neighborhood, or favorite park, stroll along the 606 or check out this guide to walking downtown with kids or this one for best hikes in the Chicagoland area.
3. Must-Visit Kid-Friendly Museums in Chicago
Museums are wonderful places to take a baby for a visit! Not only are most of Chicago’s museums free for kids three and under, but they also each have a little something special for the youngest of visitors. From special areas designed with kids at heart, such as the Crown Family Play Lab at the Field Museum, or a special low-sensory time to explore like at the Museum of Contemporary Art visiting these museums while the baby is young can be rewarding for the parents. You can still control the pace at which you explore, minus those essential stops for a feeding or diaper change, and feel as if you did something for yourself.
If you are looking for a museum that is fully designed with kids and play at heart, then take a visit to the Chicago Children’s Museum. CCM offers play and fun for kids up to about age nine, and they have Priztker’s Playspace which is just for babies and their caregivers to explore and connect through play.
If you want to visit the museums and save, be sure to check out the Free Admission Days offered throughout the year for Illinois and Chicago residents or you can check out one of the Museum Passports from the library for free admission for four guests to many great museums and attractions! For more ideas on museums to explore, check out Chicago’s Best Museums for Curious Kids.
4. Exercise Classes for New Moms in Chicago
Exercising after a baby can feel daunting but the effects for mom’s physical and mental well-being are undeniable. It’s also a great way to meet friends! Fit4Mom classes, such as the popular Stroller Strides, are offered all over the city. Plus many local gyms, such as the YMCA Chicago, YogaSix, Midtown Athletic, and Lakeshore Fitness, offer child-care so parents can focus on a great workout without worrying about the kids.
5. Visit Our Favorite Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Chicago
Going out to eat with a baby can feel daunting, but starting when they are young will help them learn how to dine out and open them to trying new flavors and foods as they grow older. Chicago has no shortage of great restaurants, even some that cater to families by offering space to wiggle, entertainment such as balloon artists, local musicians, over the top themes, and even dine-in movies. Other restaurants have families in mind with special menus for kids and special pricing too! So go ahead and enjoy a meal with your kids—without any stink eyes from other customers.
6. Get Baby Water Safe
Getting your baby used to the water early is one of the best things you can do, especially for babies in a city with 26 miles of lakefront and dozens of free beaches. Swim programs like Goldfish Swim School offer lessons at four months to get the tiniest tadpoles, and their adults, water safe! To find a school right for your family, check out our list of swim schools in Chicago.
7. Practice Your Yoga & Namaste with Mommy and Me Yoga
Regular yoga classes with your children have so many positive benefits beyond stretching and moving your bodies. Yoga has been shown to teach mindfulness, and self-awareness and working together with their grown-up can deepen their connection. It also helps to reduce stress! You and your Little Buddha can join Buddha Belly Kids Yoga at locations throughout Chicago for classes – such as Zen Yoga Garage or the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
8. Learn about Baby Wellness from the Experts
Babies are hard at first—they communicate in ways that are foreign to us with cries, and other mystifying noises and expressions. Enter Chicago’s premier infant wellness practice, Metta Baby which is on a mission to provide a support system for parents and infants as young as two weeks old. Here you can engage in activities that not only promote the baby’s physical well-being but also which will help to create a strong bond between parent and child.
9. Visit these nearby Chicago Beaches
With two dozen free beaches along Lake Michigan and a summer season that is as close to perfection as you can get. A visit with your baby is a great way to spend the morning. Early mornings are a quieter time if you want to avoid a crowded beach on those late summer days, but no matter the time, just be sure you have shade to keep you all protected.
10. Attend a Breastfeeding Class in Chicago
Just because something is described as “natural” doesn’t make it necessarily easy. For new moms looking for support with breastfeeding, there are multiple places to reach out for help! Our favorite resources are the La Leche League, Baby Bistro Group from UChicago Medicine, and Chicago Family Doulas. Moms can ask questions and find answers via their websites. One-on-one help can also be arranged either via zoom or in person. Groups and classes also provide new moms a chance to connect with other moms, build their offline support group and create friendships.
11. Nurture a Love of Reading
Beyond our amazing Chicago Public Library system, Chicago is home to the American Writers Museum which allows children to enjoy books in their cozy Children’s Literature Gallery. One of the best things about reading is that it can be done just about anywhere. From the family room to the park, or even on the “L” train, so keep some books handy and read a little every day with your baby.
12. Take Baby for Their First Haircut
The time will eventually come for your baby to get their first haircut. To make it a memorable experience, some salons offer special packages. Rock Hair Scissors in the Edgewater neighborhood even offers a little first-cut certificate, keepsake lock, and balloon. Does the idea of mini-meltdown stress you out? Then consider TLC Family Hair Care, Chicago’s premier mobile salon for families. TLC comes to you and offers a low-stress appointment whether it is your first cut or your hundredth.
13. Shop the Farmers Market
Get your baby used to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables by visiting a local farmers market. They’re colorful, and smell delicious and many vendors offer samples. You can event find live music, puppet shows, and other kid-friendly entertainment. Most outdoor markets run from about May through October before the indoor markets pop up for the winter months of November through April. The markets often are held near playgrounds and can be a great spot for an impromptu meet-up or playdate.
14. Connect with Nature
Chicago may be a large urban area, but there are still plenty of green spaces to explore and enjoy with your baby. These are also great spots to try out that baby carrier and give the stroller a rest. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is an all-season favorite with the combination of outdoor spaces to explore and indoor fun such as the Butterfly Haven and the new Nature Playspace. Also great for little ones to explore (and a great place for laying on a blanket and reading!) are the Garfield Park Conservatory and the Chicago Botanic Garden. If you are looking for a little adventure out of the city, head to the Morton Arboretum which is home to one of the best child-focused gardens and offers miles of trails for walking.
15. Take a Baby Class Together
Join up with other parents and their babies to sing, dance and play. Bubbles Academy (Mag Mile/Lincoln Park/Highland Park) is a one-stop shop for all things baby classes. Since Chicago is a music-loving town there are also tons of great options for music classes throughout the city, plus Stages Chicago has created a unique curriculum to blend song, movement, and musical theater into classes for kids from birth to high school.
16. Act Like an Animal at Lincoln Park Zoo
Free and open to visitors all year long is the Lincoln Park Zoo. Recently the zoo has built a new home for its growing lion pride and has also updated the play structure within the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. The Farm-in-a-Zoo is also a wonderful place to explore for kids of all ages, as well as the Lionel Train Adventure and Endangered Species Carousel. With a nearby playground, miles of park to explore, and one of the city’s best farmers markets, entire days can be spent here!
17. Take a Boat Cruise through Chicago with Your Baby
Okay, maybe you won’t need to actually ROW the boat, but with the lake to the east and the river flowing through the city’s heart, by water is one of the best ways to take in the Windy City. Our favorite for families is the Chicago Fire Boat which is one part tour, one part floating museum, and a whole lot of fun! Another great way to explore during warm weather is to hop on the Chicago Water Taxi—either as a mode of transportation or just for fun!
18. Visit a Nearby Chicago Farm
If your trip to the Farm-in-the-Zoo has you looking for more fun down on the farm then Chicagoland has you covered! Check out these seven Chicagoland spots where you can get more animal connection time and maybe even go for a tractor ride or pick berries in season.
19. Discover the Wonderful World of Splash Pads around Chicago
In the warm months, the city turns on hundreds of splash pads, fountains, and water features which offer a perfect way for little ones to cool off on a hot day.
And if Baby has older siblings, we have a fantastic list of the best things to do in Chicago with kids to help you out! Don’t worry, many of the places that are great for baby are also great for those older kids.