When I imagined maternity leave, I thought I'd be hopping all over London to visit the museums, galleries, and restaurants that I'd always wanted to go to but never had the time whilst working full-time.
The reality is a bit different. I'm not one of those who reckon it's impossible to leave the house with a baby - nappy, boobs/pot of mush, blanket for wriggle time and toy and we're off - but most days intersperse exciting trips to Tesco/library/baby class/Brent Cross with playing together at home. Still, about once a week we like to brave the Tube (tips here) and venture to town to explore something new that I enjoy. Tiny man seems to enjoy staring at everything too and sleeps well on those evenings.
Here, with the help of the mums of Facebook, are the best baby-friendly, rather than baby-focused, places to visit in London.
(By the way - this post first appeared on "hilarious"* baby blog Run Out of Womb where you can find lots more 3am feed-fests like this one (*according to my mum)
Geffrye Museum - I went to this Hoxton museum of houses yesterday. It's all on one level, so buggy-friendly (though I usually take a sling too so the baba can see more) and really interesting insight into how we've been living over the past centuries. Nice cafe too, and lots of hipster ville to visit nearby (as in the pic above).
Museum of Childhood - very baby friendly with a nice sensory area and cafe.
Science Museum. Says one mum: "My friend took hers yesterday as they have a big baby sensory area apparently. I find it's the getting there is a pain with a buggy and the underground! Once I'm there it's fine!"
Royal Academy, Hayward Gallery and Tate Modern - have wide, buggy-friendly spaces and lots of things for babies to stare at. Cafe of the Tate Modern is well-rated by mums too, despite "exceptionally high change mat!"
Baby Cinema - I'm obsessed with this, it's so fun to watch the latest films whilst having a baby sleepy-cuddle on you (when tiny) or play on your lap when bigger. It's definitely easiest when they're small... I love the Phoenix (£7) in east Finchley, and the Everyman chain's dotted around London (£13 but that does include tasty cake and drink delivered TO YOUR SEAT by waiters). Great parent and baby cinema screenings at the Barbican too. Useful weekly listings here: Babes About Town.
Boat trip: take the Thames Clipper to Greenwich and it's really easy to wheel a buggy on and off. Plenty of places to park them next to a seat too.
City Farms are good - Kentish Town, Spitalfields and Hackney, and they're free.
Now - Winter Wonderland has lots of baby-friendly lights to look at and if you go now during the day it's practically empty.
Southbank - the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre and actually all of the South Bank (albeit better in summer) has plenty to see, do, and space to wander.
Brent Cross is fab - see my post here. And another mum adds: "Please don't laugh ... I went on several trips to IKEA with my first. At the time I was on mat leave, the baby food there was free and they also have excellent feeding with an endless supply of high chairs, excellent changing facilities and cheap food for adults too. Plus lots for baby to look at as I pushed him around the shop... Not particularly cultural except if you think about the Swedish food aspect :)"
Central London hotels are great - they are mostly very friendly about babies and there is loads for them to look at so you can just go and have a cuppa and let the babies do their thing. The lobby is usually nice and spacious, plus there's huge art on the walls for babies to look at. Another mum adds: "Mine also loved Selfridges with all the lights and music. Girl after my own heart!"
Sky Garden in the City - it's free and has lovely views (just have to book a time slot in advance). Great cafe and tons of space for rattling around. "They say they don't allow buggies but they totally totally do and staff were v welcoming indeed to a big bunch of us with little ones. Afternoon or morning probs better than lunchtime."
What are your favourite baby-friendly places to visit in London? Please comment on my blog runoutofwomb and let me know.