We love babies. In fact, we’ve been known to have a few of them between the two of us! We are not alone in our love of all things baby. The Portland events scene is teeming with stuff to do with the littlest of little ones. Understandably, sometimes all you want to do is gaze into your baby’s eyes or marvel at their fingers and toes (and often, that’s all you have the energy to do!). But for those times when you just need to get out of the house, here are some ideas.
Book Babies at your local library. Babies ages 0-12 months can enjoy songs, rhymes, books, play – and maybe even some bubbles – at libraries all throughout Portland and beyond. The library’s schedule, sorted alphabetically by branch, is available here. If you’re flexible on location, you can also search by day on our website here.
Other storytimes. While not geared specifically to babies, I did my share of bringing Grady to many of the storytimes held at local bookshops around town. Two of my personal favorites are the storytimes at Green Bean Books on Tuesdays at 11 and at A Children’s Place Bookstore on Thursdays at 10:30. Both are free.
Music. Your kids are never too young to get exposed to some great music. Luckily, Portland has a “kindie” music scene to beat all kindie music scenes. Many performers have weekly or biweekly shows, so you can catch a regular performance by musicians like The Alphabeticians, Mo Phillips, Mr. Ben, Tyleena Fairy Funkmother, Johnny Keener, and many others at kid-friendly locations around town any day of the week. Most of the shows have a suggested donation of $3-5. Check here for all the details.
Baby Hour at the Portland Art Museum. The first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM, PAM welcomes caregivers with children under the age of 1 to take a slow guided walk around the museum with a docent, followed by coffee and conversation. Registration is required, and the cost is $5 for members, $15 for non-members. Details here.
Other museums. Of course, the Portland trifecta of kid-friendly museums – OMSI, the Children’s Museum, and the Zoo – are also great options, especially for parents who also have an older child to entertain and an extra set of eyes. OMSI has an area in the back of its Science Playground for babies, complete with lots of cushioned blocks and items to entertain babies’ eyes and minds. The Children’s Museum has a separate room for babies and younger kids with a slide, water feature, mirrored area, and more. And bring your stroller or carrier and get some exercise while walking along the zoo and observing the many fabulous animals there. OMSI is free for kids 2 and under, $12 adults, $9 ages 3-13 and 63+. The Children’s Museum is free for kids under 1, $9 for adults, $8 55+. And the Zoo is free for kids 2 and under, $10.50 for adults, $7.50 for ages 3-11, and $9 for ages 65+. (And check out our full museum guide here.)
Messy Art. For slightly older babies – usually starting at around age 1 – there are plenty of options to get creative and messy! Many of Portland’s community centers have weekly “Messy Arts” or “Art Parks,” encouraging little ones to put pen to paper (or hands to playdough, or glue to feathers…). There’s one at the Montavilla Community Center on Thursdays at 10 for ages 5 and under ($2), and at the Peninsula Park Community Center on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 for ages 1-5 ($1.50). The 100th Monkey Studio also hosts a weekly Messy Art on Fridays from 10-12 for ages 1-5 for $8.
Active Fun. Many of the community centers also host regular indoor gym times. The center usually brings out balls, push cars, hula hoops, and other fun and active toys they have on hand. These are generally for ages 5 and under, although some community centers have special Baby Gyms (Montavilla Community Centerand Peninsula Park Community Center are two) that are geared towards babies under 18 months. (Check out our full indoor pool and gym guide here.)
Movies! But you know, sometimes you just need a break from everything – even your precious little one. If so, you may be in the mood for a Mommy Matinee, where you can bring your baby without being concerned if he or she fusses a bit. These are held at the McMenamin’s Kennedy School Tuesday through Thursday, usually at 2:30. The movies change regularly, and are $3 per adult. The McMenamin’s St. Johns Theater also has Mommy Matinees, usually on Wednesdays at 1. Also $3 per adult.
Support Groups. Sometimes you need a little extra help. There are tons of places to get help with newborn-related issues – from breastfeeding to post partum depression. There are too many to list out, but Milagros Boutique, Café au Play, Zenana Spa, and The Warehouse Café are four venues that have regular support group meet-ups.
Best of luck getting out of the house with your wee one and enjoying some of what Portland has to offer!
By Ali Wilkinson – updated May 2012