Top 5 things to do with babies in the D.C. area

Micaela Williamson, special to

WASHINGTON – You recently welcomed your little bundle of joy — now what? Experts say one of the best things new parents can do is get out of the house.

“Parents — especially first time parents — of newborns should get out as often as possible once their pediatrician gives the OK. Early parenting inevitably feels like ‘Groundhog Day.’ And in addition to breaking up the feed-change-sleep grind, an outing can build parents’ confidence,” says Denise Stern, owner of Let Mommy Sleep.

The D.C. area provides no shortage of outing opportunities for parents of babies. So next time you’re going stir crazy, check out one of these local destinations.

  1. Bring your baby to the movies. It may sound crazy, but many local movie theaters offer regularly scheduled adult movies that welcome little ones. To accommodate the sensory needs of babies, the theater lights remain dim and the volume stays at a moderate level.

    On select Friday mornings, parents and caregivers can check out current films at the Silver Babies series at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, which features a matinee price and stroller parking.

    The stylish Angelika Theatre at the Mosaic District in Fairfax hosts a weekly Cry Baby Matinee. For an added bonus, check out the cafe, which boasts tasteful sandwiches, entrees, gourmet beverages and desserts that can be eaten during the show. You’ll never want to eat stale popcorn and Junior Mints again!

  2. Take in some wildlife. Seeing animals make a wonderful adventure for a baby. Babies and parents, alike, adore staring into the aquatic wonderland of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. No strollers are allowed on the floor, so plan accordingly and bring your baby carrier.

    On nice weather days, get a great workout by pushing your stroller through the Smithsonian National Zoo, or bring your baby to the free farms at Frying Pan Farm Park or Oxon Hill Farm for barnyard fun.

  3. Tour a garden. Take a field trip for the senses to the United States Botanical Garden in the District. Parents and babies will feel a sense of peace among the beautiful blooms and unique plants. Smaller botanical gardens in the area include Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Va., River Farm in Alexandria and Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md.
  4. Take a trip to the local farmers market. Buy some fresh local fare. There are over 160 farmers markets in the D.C. area, so there’s one happening every day. Check out this interactive map to find one near you or explore a new neighborhood.
  5. Go to a museum. New parents don’t realize how easy they have it. Before the toddler tantrums begin, take advantage of this time to check out exhibits at one of the many museums D.C. has to offer. If baby is awake during the excursion, build vocabulary and your relationship by talking about what you see. Whether your interest is art, technology, history or nature, there is no shortage of museums or historical sites in our area.

Editor’s Note: Micaela Williamson is a co-author of the book Kid Trips Northern Virginia, a must-have local guide for families living or traveling in Northern Virginia. Whether near or far, she continues to love scoping out family-friendly destinations with her own children and resides with her family in Fairfax County, Va.

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