Weekends are an absolute bug bear of mine at the moment. So often Jim and I decide, ‘we’re going out for the day!’ And repeatedly, 2 hours later, we’re still in the lounge utterly stumped about where to go! It just doesn’t feel like there is much out there to do with babies! Especially now Noah is at the stage where he’s not going to be content for hours on end in a carrier or pram.
But there are some places we’ve found that we absolutely love – and most importantly, so does Noah!
Studley Garden Centre – The Soft Play Barn.
Just a few months ago, Studley Garden Centre made the really smart move of opening up a Soft Play Barn for little ones. And we love it! It has soft play over two levels for older children, and a ‘crawler’ area for babies and toddlers. I took Noah here for his first ever soft play experience at about 5 months old, and he’s always had a fab time. It’s nice and clean, with lots of bright colours and very safe. There’s a Pizza Cafe (what’s not to love?!) and best of all, under 1s go free.
The Artrix Arts Centre, Bromsgrove
An arts centre, really? YES! The Artrix has a lovely little cafe open daily (except Sundays!), and they have a small soft play area for babies and young toddlers. I would never have thought to investigate somewhere like this, but the cafe serves lovely fresh food, and the soft play area is perfect for our needs. It’s only small, but free, and it’s kept in immaculate condition. It’s been a favourite spot of ours to head after baby group for lunch and a play – I love how open it is, and how there’s no danger of older children accidentally knocking the little ones. It seems to be a bit of a hidden gem so I’m almost reluctant to even mention it here but I adore it, and they offer lots of events and shows for families too.
Sanders Park, Bromsgrove
Obviously, parks are a good option if the weather is nice – however when you have a young baby, there is often very little for them to do! Sanders Park is fab though. They have a lovely big playground with loads of equipment, and best of all for babies there are lots of different types of swing, so it offers more than the bog standard infant swing. There’s so much to do, that even on a busy day you aren’t stood coveting a piece of equipment never able to actually use it! There is also a cafe that serves hot and cold food, and TOILETS! So many parks don’t have facilities like this and it’s invaluable with a baby that might need a change or feed. The park itself is beautiful to walk round as well. Bonus!
Umberslade Farm, Tanworth-in-Arden
We first took Noah here when he was about 3 months old, then again a few weeks ago at 9 months. It is a gorgeous farm, with loads to see, and they do all sorts of things for older children to get involved with like bottle feeding lambs and calves, and horse rides. They also have a small animal area where you can hold and pet chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs etc. Even at 3 months old, Noah was looking at the different animals, and last time we went he was even more engaged. There’s also a play barn with soft play and egg splat canons! And some lovely sensory bits and pieces. In case that isn’t enough, there’s two outdoor play areas too. We loved our last day out so much that I ended up buying myself an annual pass for less than £30 which means I can take Noah and bump (when he gets here) as much as I like this year! Absolute bargain.
The National Sealife Centre, Birmingham
Ok, so not for ‘every day’ as it’s obviously a lot more expensive than my previous options, but we LOVE the Sealife Centre. We first took Noah at 5 months old because I was convinced he’d love the colours and lighting and I was right. He was mesmerised and so calm throughout, it’s an ideal atmosphere for babies. We’re planning on taking him again (and the new baby..!) on his first birthday in April – I can’t wait to see his face!
National Trust Properties
As a family, we love National Trust Properties, and we’re lucky to have quite a lot around where we live! We’ve had membership for years, which is really good value, and under 5s are free. The grounds are beautiful to explore, and they nearly always have a cafe with lovely fresh food to sit with little ones. The houses are wonderfully interesting too, but we don’t always go round when we have the pram etc or if Noah isn’t in the best mood. I can’t wait for the weather to pick up this year and take the boys for picnics! And once Noah’s on his feet, there’s usually play areas for the kids too. My favourite ones near us are Coughton Court, Charlecote Park, Hanbury Hall, Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House.
There really are some beautiful spots round here, we are very lucky!
If anyone reading this has any other suggestions for days out with babies, please PLEASE let me know! You can never have too many options, and I’d love to try out some more!