I moved to New York City from Los Angeles over a decade ago, in the midst of a June heat wave the likes of which this native Californian never could have imagined. To make matters worse, as a newbie New Yorker I didn’t foresee quite how unbearable it would be to live during this heat wave in a 5th-floor walkup apartment that lacked air-conditioning (really, you can’t make this stuff up). Suffice it to say, I skedaddled from that living situation as soon as possible! Air conditioning or not, however, city summers are sweltering, and keeping cool, especially with kids in tow, is no easy feat.
Here are a few suggestions to keep you and your baby cool all summer long…
Explore a Museum.
Museums are a perfect place to cool down on a hot summer day. Those invaluable works of art are just as much in need of air conditioning as your precious bundle of joy, and the two will happily co-exist as you soak up a bit of culture. Most museums welcome strollers, and some even have a pay-what-you-wish admissions policy, which makes it much easier on your wallet if your baby suddenly throws a fit and you need to dash out after only a few minutes. The Guggenheim and Whitney museums in New York City even offer “Stroller Tours,” during which new parents can get a private tour of the museum’s exhibitions with nary a glance if their stroller-bound tots let out a cry.
Splash Around at a Park.
I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of city playgrounds and their hard surfaces and precarious equipment, but I do appreciate the water features that come to life in city parks during the summer months. Dress your baby in one of those adorable bathing suits you purchased for just such an occasion (don’t forget the sunblock and a sun hat!), grab a towel, and stroll over to your local park for some water fun.
Don’t fret if baby is too young to run through the sprinklers on his or her own, as you can always hold your baby up to the spray. Indeed, when my daughter Sadie was a baby, she loved it when I’d stick her arms or legs into the water, and she always delighted in watching the bigger kids run around and play (little did I know just how quickly she’d become one of those big kids!). Manhattan’s Imagination Playground is a particularly ideal place for little ones to cool off, as it features an area dedicated to water play, including places where tots can sit in the water and splash around.
See a Movie.
Admittedly, your summer companion may not be old enough to appreciate the latest popcorn flick (or old enough to enjoy the popcorn that goes along with said flick), but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some air-conditioned cinematic fun. To the delight of new parents everywhere, movie theaters are now offering baby-friendly matinee screenings featuring lower volume levels, brighter lights, stroller parking, and even changing stations should the need arise. And remember, your baby won’t make any judgy comments about your movie selection, so go ahead and purchase that ticket for “Magic Mike” – you know you want to (ok, maybe that’s just me…)!
Take in an Outdoor Concert or Story Time.
The plethora of outdoor concerts, story times and festivals taking place in cities all around the country during the summer months is mind-boggling. What these outdoor activities lack in air-conditioning, they more than make up for in entertainment value and an opportunity to get out and bond with your baby and meet other parents and caregivers. And of course, most of these concerts and story times are completely free, which makes them all the more appealing. I’m particularly enamored of the twice-weekly outdoor kids concerts in New York City’s Madison Square Park and the Flaubert Frog story times in Bryant Park, which never fail to delight babies and kids of all ages. To beat the heat, select a concert or story time taking place in the morning hours, and be sure to arrive early to stake out a shady spot.
Sample an Indoor Class.
On those days when the mercury soars to new heights, consider checking out one of the many indoor classes offered around town. From music to gym to yoga and more, there are literally hundreds of classes catering to babies and tots, all of which take place in air-conditioned environs. And if you’re wary of signing up for an entire semester of classes without seeing how your baby responds to the class, rest assured that nearly any class provider will allow you to demo a class before committing. So take the summer to sample some of these fabulous class offerings. You may just discover your baby is a budding yogi!
Head to the Beach.
Even without a car, you can travel to many beaches or lakefront areas for a day of oceanfront fun with your tot. Most big cities offer bus and/or train service to nearby beaches via bus or train, so make a day of it and go on a beach adventure with your baby! Taking a day trip with your baby, especially one that involves lots and lots of sand, might seem daunting, but with the right preparation you’ll be beach-bound in no time. Try to time your departure and arrival times around your baby’s nap time, so that he or she can sleep on the way. Then pack up your umbrella stroller, beach bag and towels, as well as sunblock, a sun hat and plenty of snacks (use an insulated cooler to keep snacks and bottles cool), and you’ll be all set.
Have a great (and cool) summer!