15 Tips for Visiting New York City with a Baby
My very popular (and helpful) post on visiting New York City with a baby has been revised as of August 2018. It’s filled with even more tips on how to navigate the Big Apple for a fun and safe family vacation.
I know what you’re thinking. Visiting New York City with a baby sounds more than a little cray-cray. I understand where you’re coming from – hordes of people, the subway, tiny hotel rooms. Take a deep breath. It’s not as bad as you think.
First, when our little people are still in infant mode, they can go just about anywhere without disruption. For the most part, they’re staring at the world starry-eyed and taking it all in. And, New York City has a lot for them to take in. They’re not complaining, moving around, etc. Second, most babies can sleep almost anywhere, especially when they’re being wheeled in the stroller. Third – and I apologize for this dose of a reality check I’m about to drop on you, but if thousands of parents navigate the big city daily, why can’t you? The trick is – like these skilled parents – knowing how to navigate New York City.
That’s where this guide to visiting New York City with a baby is here to help you. Each of these 15 tips comes from my first-hand experience.
Getting to and from the airport
I think getting to and from the airport is the most complicated feat for many considering visiting New York City with a baby. Yes, you do need to have your baby in a car seat when heading to and from the airports. However, you may not need the car seat once you’re in the city because you plan to walk everywhere or you plan to take advantage of the no car seat needed in taxi law (which I don’t recommend).
The good news is that you have options.
- Pre-arrange a car service with a car seat. Blacklane is a great option as its guaranteed and convenient, but it will set you back about $120 each way.
- Order an Uber with a car seat. When you request your Uber, scroll to extra seat options and tap Car Seat. There is a $10 fee for hte car seat, but the $55 estimated fare each way is much more manageable than Blacklane. The downside is there might not be an Uber with a carseat in the vicinity of the airport when you need it.
- Bring your car seat to snap into your transportation service of choice (you can check them for free with most airlines).
The stroller dilemma
While we’re talking about car seats, we might as well transition to strollers. How will you get around once you’re in the city. There are two camps on strollers when visiting New York City with a baby and neither is wrong. It’s what works best for you and your family.
- Travel Stroller – If you don’t plan to bring your car seat, then there’s no need to lug around a heavy stroller. We have a Baby Jogger City Tour travel stroller and love it. It’s sturdy yet still compactable and easy to maneuver through crowds. Best part? You can store it in the overhead compartment on planes.
- Snap and go stroller/car seat combo – We actually didn’t bring our Baby Jogger as we needed a car seat for our trip (a family obligation that’s not typical of most trips). However, we didn’t find it any big deal to push both around the city. We have the Britax B-Free & B-Safe Ultra Travel System and highly recommend it.
Stay in a suite if you can afford it
We stayed in two hotels on our trip to New York City. The first hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea, was your standard, tiny NYC hotel room. While the hotel was nice, it was a miserable experience with his crib just inches from our bed in those tight quarters. When he went down at 8 pm, we had to go to sleep. When he napped, we had to nap. We tried to stay awake, watching TV or reading, but the distraction was too much for him.
At our second hotel, The Evelyn, we were upgraded to a two-room suite. It was paradise. The crib was set up in the sitting room, so we could shut the door during his naps and bedtime. We all slept well and were energized for exploring the city. The Evelyn was an overall awesome hotel, by the way, and I’d highly recommend it.
Make sure you pre-arrange a refrigerator in your hotel suite
Most hotels are very family friendly and can place a refrigerator in your room for storing breast milk, formula, beer (the essentials). Be sure to call ahead and arrange this though as they typically only have a limited number of fridges.
TripAdvisor has a helpful list of the best family-friendly hotels in New York City!
Consider renting an apartment
Services like HomeAway make it easy to rent an apartment home away from home when visiting New York City with a baby, which can provide a more affordable option to a hotel suite.
Pack an inflatable bed
Yes, hotels do have cribs (although they could run out) and yes, there are baby gear rental services in NYC. However, we stay clear of them for one main reason – bed bugs. Instead, we pack a Hiccapop Inflatable Toddler Travel Bed. It’s super compactable, has safety bumpers and takes up less space in the hotel room than a pack and play or crib. Perfect for visiting New York City with a baby.
Avoid the subway at all costs
Subways are not stroller friendly, especially if you unluckily catch it during rush hour. I almost got into a fight with a not very understanding rider in what my wife now describes as a “Papa Bear” moment. Also, many subway stops do not have elevators, so you’ll have to carry the stroller up at least a flight of stairs.
Plan to stay where you play
It’s tempting to want to see all of New York City. While that type of travel may have worked pre-kids, it isn’t when visiting New York City with a baby. Travel will be slower. I recommend going deep in a neighborhood and exploring all it has to offer. I also recommend avoiding Times Square at all costs. Use my guide to the best hotels by neighborhood to help plan your stay.
Honor at least one naptime in your hotel room
Many family travel experts will tell you that traveling with a baby is easy, “They can sleep wherever!” This is partially true. They can take little catnaps almost anywhere. These aren’t full naps, and the child wakes not fully rested and a little cranky. Honor at least one full naptime in the room. Deacon takes two naps a day, and we made sure either the morning or afternoon was in the crib for the full two hours.
Be prepared for rain
Rain can (and will) strike at any time. Bring a waterproof stroller shield to keep your bundle of joy dry. I got stuck without one, and it was disastrous.
Make sure you keep yourself dry, too. I typically carry a packable rain jacket with me wherever I travel, as they are easy to stash into backpacks, day bags, and, most importantly, diaper bags. Here are both his and hers packable rain jackets that we own and recommend.
Eat out as you normally would
Don’t shy away from dining out in restaurants. If your baby has the temperament to allow it back home, then NYC should be no different. We found restaurant staff and customers to be very accommodating wherever we went. Several customers at Eataly even asked if they could hold Deacon.
Be smart about it though. Make dinner reservations to avoid hour-long waits. Also, mind your baby’s sleep schedule and don’t make dinner reservations at 9 pm if your child goes to bed at 8 pm.
Rock the ergo
Let your baby see NYC as you see it by using an ergo. You’ll get a kick out of her reaction and so will those around you!
Always have extra wipes with you
Pack two extra packs of baby wipes (or have Amazon ship them to your hotel) and make sure an unopened package is always at the ready in your diaper bag. You never know when a bird will poop on your baby (true story).
Bring multiple blankets
We carried two blankets us with us at all times in New York City – one for warmth and one in case we stopped in a park. Both were well utilized.
Pack a portable diaper changer
Not all bathrooms have suitable changing stations nor are you always near on when you start to catch whiffs of poop. Skip Hop makes a handy travel diaper changer that is a must.