Bringing Up Baby in Brooklyn

Since the question was raised by a couple of the comments in my last baby update post, I thought I'd address the topic of what having a baby in Brooklyn is like.  From my perspective, this is the only thing I've known but once I got to thinking there are some distinct differences of note.

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snaps from Sunday: breakfast at the diner, stop at the farmers market, a long walk and first time on the swings!

The biggest difference right from the start is that Agatha spends much less time in a car than a baby outside of a city.  (While its not absolutely necessary in Brooklyn, we do have a car but there are lots of kids in Brooklyn and even more in Manhattan than rarely step foot inside a car at all).  Her main mode of transportion is her stroller, thus the reason why I think a good stroller is such an important baby purchase (see: most useful baby products).

Brooklyn has very good public transportation and Agatha has already experienced the joys of the bus and subway.  That said, its not super convenient when strolling.  Strollers must be carried up/down stairs (most stations don't have elevators) or folded away (on the bus only).  Here is where a baby carrier would come in handy but I haven't loved wearing one and the need to go far is so infrequent it hasn't been an issue.  This will definitely change as she gets older, but for now, sticking close to home is fine. 

Another difference is how we stock up on baby supplies.  Instead of trapsing to the local Babies R Us, we use the magic of the interwebs to deliver just about everything we need right to the doorstep. I still enjoy shopping for baby which we can do at local boutique type places (pink olive and lulu's are a couple of fun stops) in my area or the more occasional pitstop at Target (my mothership!) but that is more recreational than required.

Now we've discussed what baby A doesn't spend a lot of time doing (driving in cars, rolling around in a shopping cart), I'm sure you are asking what she does all day.  She spends almost all of her time outside the house either strolling around the sidewalks, in the park or a nearby playground.  We happen to live just a few blocks from Prospect Park (Central Park's hipper little brother) where she often spends time lounging on a blanket in the grass or in one of the playgrounds with the occassional stop in the zoo or ride on the carosel. Summer is the season for farmer's markets - there is a small, sleepy one just a few steps away from my door on Sunday as well as some larger, more happening markets every weekend within walking distance - so we like to visit those regularily too.  There are lots of other babies around there is no shortage of baby friendly classes, activities and playdates to partake in when I have my act together.  On the days when we feel like eating out, almost all restaurants, gastropubs and cafes will happily make room for baby. (see: more about Brooklyn)

All in all, its a pretty sweet but there is a downside and its a dirty one: a dearth of changing tables.  Not because there isn't a need for them - you would be hard pressed to go anyway before 8pm and not see babies within toddling distance - but the shops and restaurants are small and bathroom square footage is at a premium.  So we must be resourceful - both by mapping out the available changing tables (we love Barnes + Noble for this!) and doing quick changes in the less ergonomic of spots.  I admit this is one area that I struggle with a lot - I don't think I should subject the public to a diaper changes in full view but also don't want to change baby in an unsanitary spot.  

So that pretty much sums it up.  Its likely not that different than from all of the babies out there.  As she gets older, I imagine the gap between urban and rural life will grow ever wider. Considering I didn't think I had much to say on this topic, I've certainly written enough.  For those of you who were curious, I hope I answered your question (if you have others, please ask!).  For the other urban moms out there: have I left anything important out?  anything you do differently? 





25 comments:

  1. I grew up in Brooklyn and wouldn't have had it any other way. We were on Prospect Park West and so the park was my backyard. She's a lucky girl!

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  2. I'm so happy you wrote this post - and it couldn't be timelier for myself. We live in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge), and are currently trying for a baby. My husband was born and raised in Brooklyn and sees no issue to raising a baby here, whereas I was born in an extremely rural area upstate on acres of land. While the ultimate goal is to move out of the 5 boroughs, we aren't quite there yet and will likely have at least our first child in Bay Ridge. I worry about things like going up and down stairs with a stroller by myself, even though I see other moms doing it all the time. You've definitely given me a few more things to think about, and have calmed my nerves a smidge (mostly because I am a human stressball, not because your post wasn't reassuring- ha!) Keep posts like these coming - I love hearing about your adventures with Agatha and being a Brooklyn Mommy :-)

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    1. Baby dust to you. I've never understood the desire to move to the burbs post baby so I can't comment there but I'm sure you will find lots of advantages to living here once you have a little one of your own. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

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  3. Well I hang my head in shame. I totally will change my six months old in the stroller (only wet ones). Though I don't live in the city and its a bit easier to find a quiet or more private spot with the stroller. I have a small portable changing pad that I lay under him and I guess I'm fast but I can swap out a wet diaper with a clean one in thirty seconds flat. Some of the restaurant shops bathrooms I've been lately are absolutely DISGUSTING and literally had no other place besides the dingy floor to change a baby. So stroller it was.

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    1. Oh yes, I've definitely changed her in the stroller in a pinch as well. I just find that to be killer on my back so not my favorite option.

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  4. Haha! Well so Barnes is Noble is useful for something beside buying books and magazine and getting a Starbucks drink. So Funny!
    Thanks, Patty

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  5. That little cutie is so lucky to grow up in such an amazing place! Man, I'd love to make it to Brooklyn one day!

    I live in a city that feels like a really big small town (cars are a must) but we end up doing the same thing, figuring out which spots are the most baby friendly/have the best washrooms. haha... little luxuries.

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  6. You got it! My husband and I have perfected the "lap change" by putting our son on our laps to change him. Unfortunately he's been in the 98% for height his whole baby life, so he graduated to my husband quickly. Now that he stands, we're perfecting the "standing change" which is something I watched a friend do 10/15 years ago and STILL remember thinking "hmmm, that might come in handy some day." It has.

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    1. I'm a big fan of the "standing change" also!

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    2. Agatha can't stand on her own yet so I haven't mastered that one yet.

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    3. Teach her to do the standing change as soon as she can stand up. Our daughter did this, I would have her lean on me and therefor the touching of germy things was very minimal. Keep her in dresses or skirts and there is no shoe changes or snaps either.

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    4. That is a must as soon as she can stand.

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  7. I think that the lack of changing tables is a problem in any city. One of our issues is that many men's restrooms don't have a changing area, so my husband often will change our children in the car if he's out without me.

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  8. Totally agree, changing tables are a problem even here in the suburbs. They are especially hard for my hubby who takes our LO out alone a lot. Not a lot of men's restrooms have them, even fewer places have "family" restrooms. Plus, a suburb off of Portland (the changing table) was found to be the source of some bad string of illness recently, so we opt for our car or the floor a lot. The portable changing pad gets doubled up with another and the changing surface is wiped down before and after a lot too. Norstrom or Macy's ladies room has been our saver a couple of times.

    I think no matter where you are, the outside is always a kids' favorite. We are able to walk and drive to several parks even being in the suburbs.

    I would highly suggest getting an Ergo or a similar type carrier. Even we he was a month or two old, I would strap him against me while grocery shopping rather than put him in the cart. And now that he is 11 mo old, he is going through some stranger danger, so when we are at the Farmer's Market he doesn't like being in the stroller, but prefers to be carried (prolly feels safer/protected). So the Ergo helps so I can keep my hands free to pick up produce and carry items to the car.

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    1. Thanks. Whenever we go to the burbs, there always seems to be changing tables at every big box store and chain restaurant. In other words everywhere. Plus you have your car so you could always use that. So I definitely think us city dwellers have a harder time finding them. That said, I bet it was even harder to find them 20 years ago...so I should be happy we have them at all :)

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  9. Your blog is so cute and this write-up is the perfect example of that! First of all, your baby is adorable... and although my children are teens now, this post brought me back to visions of changing tables in stores and restaurants and how I didn't want to touch anything because of germs! Well, at least I didn't want my baby to come in contact with anything. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  10. If you don't love Baby A in a carrier, maybe you just haven't tried the right one? I'm a big fan of the Ergo, in the performance fabric (more breathable; not hot). We chose it because it's so easy to shift from my husband to me and back again with just a few adjustments. My son, now almost 2, happily rides in the backpack for quite a while. In fact, we did the Georgia Aquarium (an enormous place!) on one of their busiest days of the year...he had a great view and easy access to me for chatting for 3+ hours. It's also good for airports, outdoor festivals, anyplace where a stroller is cumbersome or just too low for him to really take in the experience.

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    1. I've been thinking the same thing Emily. Everyone loves the Ergo but I have the Bjorn and it seems mostly similar. I have a bad back so Ive been blaming it on that but maybe I should try another. It just seems like such a waste to spend $100 if I dont like that one either.

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  11. Your daughter has the most gorgeous blue eyes!

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  12. YAY! I love hearing about Agatha in the city. Okay, here is a question for you. I know you have stated that you work in finance. How do you get her to daycare in the mornings? Do you take her into the city with you or does she go to school in brooklyn and then you commute into the city? Or did you decide to stay home once you had her? Or do you have a nanny? I hope this is not too personal, I am just curious. I have a hard enough time getting to work on time and we have a nanny. I can't imagine if I was having to take two kids to daycare on public transportation and still get to work on time. I would be a DISASTER!

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    1. Im very much still working. We have a nanny which has so far been great.

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  13. some baby stores will let you rent carriers to "test drive" them. I had the bjorn first and unfortunately it doesnt have that bottom back support strap that the ergo has which makes all the differance.

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  14. Agatha is just a complete doll. Her face is too much!

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