What are essentials for visiting NYC with a baby?
September 11, 2013 6:15 AM   Subscribe

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting me in NYC this week with their 3 month old. What are some things you and yours have found to be essential for operating in the city with a baby? Bonus question: tips for navigating the two-seciton R-train?

I'm looking to put together a care package to go along with the diapers, etc, they asked me to pick up for them.

They'll be staying near-ish me in Brooklyn (Park Slope/Prospect Heights-ish).
posted by SirNovember to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (21 answers total)
If they don't have one, some kind of sling or carrier like an Ergo would be much easier to use than a stroller. If you have friends with children, I would bet that they would be able to loan you one for your visit. Do you have access to a Pack and Play or similar kind of portable crib? Also way easier than them having to try to wrangle that on a trip.
posted by goggie at 6:18 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife took our son to NY earlier this year, and the Big Apple Greeter program was an absolute godsend. It might be too late to get a greeter on such a short notice, but it is definitely worth a try.
posted by jbickers at 6:22 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

+1 on the sling/carrier being much, much easier than a stroller for navigating public transit.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:36 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Sun hat for baby
Clif bars and bananas for mom and dad, a bottle of wine for once the baby is asleep.
posted by amaire at 6:45 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would avoid the R train all together and walk above ground, even if it's further, to the 2/3 or 4/5 or A/C/E.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:58 AM on September 11, 2013

Response by poster: They've got an Ergo carrier, so they're set for baby-hauling.

Probably too late for the Greeter, cool, though - had never heard of it.

The plan is for them to just walk to Atlantic Terminal to take something besides the R. Dunno if there is a better way.

Thank for the ideas, amaire!
posted by SirNovember at 7:51 AM on September 11, 2013

Make sure they have their gear in a backpack -- if they are out and about all day, hauling baby stuff can give you really sore shoulders in a messenger bag-style diaper bag.
posted by gaspode at 8:19 AM on September 11, 2013

Are they planning on doing some cultural activities like museums, etc.? Maybe put together a list of chill cafes near major institutions and in various neighborhoods. They can always find one by wandering around, but it's not always clear which places won't mind if you sit with a coffee and a sleeping or nursing baby for awhile.
posted by barnone at 8:32 AM on September 11, 2013

I do not have a baby but live in a large-ish city and receive visitors with babies. The list of friendly cafes is a great idea that I've never considered -- a list of nice local parks and other places to rest would be useful in the same way. I also agree with backpacks-rather-than-messenger bags and water and snacks on hand.

Whenever my out-of-town visitors get uncomfortable and unhappy, it's because they have underestimated how long they will be out walking, and are out of food/water/comfortable shoes. I've seen this go double for those with small babies, because those little adorable creatures can get heavy. So make sure they have the number of a cab company and an extra $30-or-other-appropriate-amount for desperate situations.
posted by lillygog at 8:52 AM on September 11, 2013

A set of maps for the subway and bus lines. You can't put a baby in a taxi without a car seat.
posted by valoius at 8:59 AM on September 11, 2013

List of nice (clean, space) restrooms near where they are planning to be, pref with changing tables.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:09 AM on September 11, 2013

If they ever do want to take the subway with the stroller, might be worth prepping them a bit. Make sure they know that many stations don't have elevators and to expect to do some carrying of the stroller up and down stairs. To enter with the kid in the stroller, they have to tell the attendant (which means finding a staffed entrance), who will open the emergency exit and have them swipe and turn the nearest turnstile so the fare gets registered. (I see strollers on the subway all the time but had no idea how this worked until I had visitors with kids.)
posted by yarrow at 9:17 AM on September 11, 2013

You can't put a baby in a taxi without a car seat.

Incorrect. Cite: "Drivers of yellow medallion taxicabs and for-hire vehicles and their passengers, are exempt from laws regarding car seats and seatbelts."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:24 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

When we travel we try to arrange a pack 'n play (otherwise known as a playpen) at our destination, that way we don't have to bring ours. This is for the baby to sleep in - our guy slept with us a lot at that age but we still needed somewhere safe to nap him. Some borrowed toys are always fun, since they are different from what's at home. A stack of baby facecloths and receiving blankets at your place would reduce ther needed luggage by a ridiculous degree and mean that they don't have to travel home with so much dirty laundry. Laundry facilities with scentless soap, 3-month olds ooze milk and snot on EVERYTHING. Honestly, though, babies that young really don't require too much.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:35 AM on September 11, 2013

So make sure they have the number of a cab company and an extra $30-or-other-appropriate-amount for desperate situations.

Note: there is no central dispatch service for yellow taxi cabs in NYC, unlike other major cities.

There are central dispatches for different livery cab services (most commonly seen as the presence of black town cars).

You might be able to hail a livery cab on the street, but I wouldn't count on it (the laws for hailing non-yellow cabs recently changed).

In this instance, I would:
- Find and save to my address book a trustworthy car service near Park Slope/Prospect Heights
- Also sign up for a service like Uber or Hailo ahead of time and have the app ready (with credit card saved) on both parents' smartphones (assuming they have them).
posted by kathryn at 9:46 AM on September 11, 2013

We forgot an umbrella when visiting New York. Where we live it's pretty dry, we don't normally need to carry an umbrella. My partner tried to run to the store to buy one while draping a rain jacket around the baby in the carrier, but didn't make it because a stranger on the street forced him to take stranger's umbrella to protect the baby. "My wife would want you to have the umbrella," said stranger. If you don't want to feel guilty about strangers getting soaked because they must prevent a wet baby, carry an umbrella.

This is just one example of our experience that New Yorkers were shockingly kind to us and our baby. If your family does have any problems they will probably be mobbed by New Yorkers forcing them at gunpoint to accept their help.
posted by medusa at 10:50 AM on September 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

As long as you're not going at rush hour, strollers - even the sort of comically over-sized ones that 3 month olds are in - are fine on the subway. & lazy person that I am, I'd way prefer a stroller over a sling.

in conclusion, New York is a land of contrasts I don't think ya need much. They'll have the essentials, and you shouldn't need much more. Granted, I travel light - you never know when the zombie apocalypse is going to strike, and you don't want to be weighted down by stuff like extra formula and diapers - so YMMV. I wouldn't sweat it, though. (slightly older kid and I'd say: get a cheap umbrella stroller, which are rarer outside of NYC and ubiquitous in)
posted by jpe at 11:20 AM on September 11, 2013

One thing my relatives were unprepared for was noise level at night. This is less of a concern in Park Slope than it is in Hells Kitchen where they were staying, but still - sleep is a precious commodity for new parents and if they're unused to nighttime noises (people, garbage trucks, buses, car alarms, toilets flushing, etc), you might want to get them a white noise cd/machine/app to help them sleep (and prevent the baby from waking up more than usual).

A list of kid-friendly adult places (cafes, restaurants, bars, bookstores) would also be nice - give them a chance to feel like real people again not just baby-servants, but with understanding staff and fellow patrons in the event of a meltdown or breastfeeding. There are a ton of baby friendly establishments in Park Slope/Fort Greene, so it shouldn't be difficult to compile (browse NYC mom blogs or yelp).
posted by melissasaurus at 12:10 PM on September 11, 2013

A smartphone app (if they have smartphones) with subway maps/directions and information on which stations have elevators (for a stroller) would probably be useful. There are a lot of them out there. A sling is great, but they get hot and heavy after a while and if they are planning to be out all day at any point a stroller is a lot better for napping.

(Back when my son used a stroller I never once began the process of hauling it down the subway steps without at least one total stranger leaping to assist me. Also, the two-person solution for unattended subway solutions is: Person 1 goes through the turnstile and opens the emergency exit from the inside, ignoring the alarm. Person 2 swipes their metrocard and proceeds through the emergency exit with the stroller).

Depending on where the baby is going to sleep and how she/he sleeps, having a solution for getting it really super dark in there might be useful.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:29 PM on September 11, 2013

If she's breastfeeding, know that the Babies R Us in Union Square has a place you can go to do that comfortably.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:12 PM on September 11, 2013

Response by poster: amaire, snacks and produce waiting in their hotel room was a huge hit.

arcticwoman, you're right - baby doesn't need much on his own account.

Thanks, all
posted by SirNovember at 6:39 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

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