THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE BEST BABY ACTIVITIES IN LONDON
By Kerry Dolan
As a new Mum, it's natural to feel cautious about visiting London with your baby but worry you need not - our guide to the best baby activities in London will show you some fabulous places to visit and things to do when you have a baby in tow.
London is a wonderful place for families with children of all ages to explore , and that includes your bouncing bundle of joy.
City-bound parents have a multitude of toddler and baby-friendly activities available a mere tube stop or two away.
A handy fact to remember is that children under five years old travel completely free on London public transport services.
If you have a very young baby, it’s worth ditching the oversized pram and opting for a baby sling or carrier or switching to a light, foldable stroller for getting on and off tubes and buses.
Download a step-free London Underground Map to help you navigate the underground.
Activities in London for Babies
Keeping your little ones happy is usually top of the priority list when out and about. London is bursting with exciting activities and equally useful child-friendly facilities such as parent rooms and baby change facilities.
These can be found in most London department stores, shopping centres and in all of the museums and galleries across London.
The Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford offers the chance for your little ones (and grown-ups!) imagination to run wild. The centre has two floors of creative play spaces inspired by children’s books, a café, bookshop and Story Garden.
Children can make their own adventures through giant trees, on a steamship or climb a crow’s nest into the clouds. Outside in the Story Garden, slide down a monster’s tongue, get on on a spacecraft or play with giant musical instruments.
There’s plenty to keep little ones occupied here. A day pass gives you access to Story World and Story Garden, but you can also book entry into storytelling sessions and interactive family exhibition events.
Free for under 1’s and plentiful buggy parking on the ground floor.
Tate Modern and Tate Britain are two family-friendly attractions worth a stop when visiting London. Not only are they free, you don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the visit.
With regular daily and weekend workshops and special events for families, you can pick up free activities at the Information desks, or from the Hello Families cube.
Swatch is a multi-sensory activity to support communication between adults and under 5’s. There is loads of space for toddlers to let off some steam on the ground floor and its large airy spaces mean there’s enough room to push the buggy around with you.
Tate Modern actively encourages you to talk while you’re there, so it’s okay to make some noise!
If you’re out and about in Central London, The Sea-Life Centre is a delight for babies and younger kids.
Aside from the visual delights of colourful marine life, you can immerse yourself in a Rainforest adventure full of creepy crawlies, head over to see the jellyfish in Ocean Invaders or meet the friendly local Rays in Ray Lagoon.
Meet Artie the Polar Bear, an augmented reality attraction that kids love or check out the regular talks and feeding times on the day of your visit, which are always great fun.
Under 3’s are free and buggies are very welcome.
Featuring in numerous venues across London is the critically acclaimed Bach to Baby concert series aimed at families with children under 5. If you are looking for something different, then a relaxed classical music class with your child might be just what you are looking for.
A classical musician plays themed pieces with their chosen instrument and then they round off the session with singalong nursery rhymes.
There are no behavioural restrictions on the children, so no need to worry if your toddler crawls off or dances raucously, everyone’s input is gladly welcomed.
Often a breath of fresh air after a difficult night with baby, the classes are stress-free and welcoming. The concerts are held in inspiring locations so check out the website for one nearest to you.
If soft play is your thing, and in truth, the colourful squishiness is a kind of nirvana for babies, kids and big ones, then head over to the Battersea Arts Centre, Bee’s Knees Under 5’s zone.
This imaginative indoor play space is perfect for curious little fingers and gives babies the freedom to be creative as they play.
Costs £3 per child for open play.
Museums in London for Babies
Whether you’re in east London or south London, you’re never very far away from a museum.
Believe it or not, museums are great places to take a baby. The National Army Museum in Chelsea has Play Base, an indoor soft play assault course designed for children under 8 years old. They can climb aboard a truck or prepare scoff in the cookhouse.
Why not visit the Tiny Troopers programme for under 5-year-olds? Each month takes a different theme but all are fun, sensory sessions where the little ones can sing, play and create.
The Science Museum in South Kensington is well worth a visit if you’re in central London.
Featuring the Pattern Pod, a huge multi-sensory area for children under 8 years old which will delight even the tiniest little minds (adults included!).
There’s also a flight simulator aimed at kids up to 5 years old.
There’s also The Garden, the children’s play area, although designed for slightly older children, the giant foam blocks and baby height mirrors are guaranteed to please.
The Maritime Museum in Greenwich gives little ones a chance to become pirates for the day at the AHOY gallery.
The interactive boatyard play area has enough to amuse babies and children alike, plus there’s also an animated planetarium show for kids under seven years old, where they can follow Ted the Bear on his journey through space.
A handy interactive map is situated next to the Map café and buggy park for when you need an all-important coffee stop too.
Have you ever been to the V & A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green? The clue is in the name. What’s not to love about this place?
Whilst grown-ups can enjoy some happy nostalgic moments about their own childhood playthings, you can also pick up a special Montessori family pack to help your visit with under 5’s.
There are four different packs to choose from, catering for babies from 6 months upwards. The pack contains a map, activity suggestions, playmats and toys to touch.
The London Transport Museum, handily situated in Covent Garden is also a great choice for babies and toddlers.
It offers a very hands-on experience - little visitors chose to get behind the wheel of a bus, or pretend to set sail on the Thames Nipper, a fabulous recreation of a Thames Clipper boat.
Parks in London for Babies
Despite being a wondrous city, London has a treasure trove of appealing parks just waiting to be explored.
Parks and playgrounds are a godsend for city mums, as children inevitably need open space to expend their energy whilst Mum craves some green space to clear her sleep-deprived head, just for short while at least.
If you’re feeling a bit stir-crazy then you’re sure to find a park to visit from this selection:
Hyde Park. Undoubtedly one of the most famous parks in central London and the largest of the four Royal Parks. There’s plenty of activities for all ages to make the perfect day out.
Relaxing walks along the Serpentine, the Rose Garden and plentiful cafes make this the ideal place to visit when travelling with the family in London.
Hype Park also has a playground for the children to burn off that excess energy before an ice-cream stop at the café.
The Diana Memorial Fountain can also be found here which is delightful for dipping tiny fingers and toes into on a sunny day.
Kensington Gardens is the home of the Diana Memorial playground which is a firm kid’s favourite.
Inspired by J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan, there is a huge wooden pirate ship, sensory trail and giant sea monster ready to be discovered.
There’s also swings, tepees, slides and ladders plus a treehouse and storyteller chair, aimed at children 12 and under.
Coram’s Fields in Kings Cross features a massive sandpit, climbing frames and nest style swings, which are a toddler’s paradise.
There is another adventure park adjacent to this aimed at older children with a zip wire and climbing equipment, so this is a good choice if you have kids of mixed age groups.
There’s also a city farm in the park with goats, chickens, rabbits and birds to see to help you can make a day of it.
Regent’s Park is home to ZSL London Zoo and, along with the animals, also has several playgrounds throughout the park.
One of the nicest is at Hanover Gate - it has a timber treehouse and very large sandpit. There’s also the traditional swings and slides and copious ice-cream vendors across the park, which makes a pleasant afternoon whiz by.
Battersea Park has a great toddler’s playground and adventure park. The toddler area has a fun train, pirate ship and swings plus the park itself is huge so you can bring bikes, scooters and a picnic.
There’s also a zoo, crazy golf and boating lake here too.
Hampstead Heath is one of London’s finest gems, a wild park of woodland and meadows with some of the most amazing views of the city, yet only 4 miles from the centre of London.
This park really gives you the feeling that you’re away from it all and is ideal for a family day out.
Fly a kite at Parliament Hill and then pop into the playground to let off some steam before ambling over the heath and taking in the wildlife.
There’s an open-air lido which is open all year round – not for the faint-hearted in winter, but perfect if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle.
Mile End Playground at Tower Hamlets stretches around Regent’s Canal so it’s a nice choice for those who like a walk, or better still get the baby off for a nap.
There are lots of boats to look at, bridges and water fountains and the playground is sand-filled so perfect for soft landings.
There’s a small café that sells reasonable snacks and all-important refreshments.
Holland Park in Kensington is 55-acre park featuring the stunning Kyoto Garden; a Japanese garden with koi pond, waterfalls and bridges plus a playground with a toddler area.
You will also see the coolest attraction of this park, the friendly peacocks who roam around freely, who are just as beautiful as the scenery.
Finsbury Park has a striking backdrop of a boating lake; this is a good park for duck spotting and feeding.
There’s also a playground with slides, swings and climbing frames and a skate park aimed at older children and teenagers.
Baby Shops in London
As every new Mum knows, shopping for your tiny tykes features pretty high on the list of ‘things to do’ with your baby.
London has an assortment of Independent baby shops that offer urbane collections of kids and baby clothing, toys and gifts.
Often dubbed ‘creative family lifestyle stores’ there’s more to these shops than a rack of clothing or an assortment of plastic toys.
Olive Loves Alfie was founded in 2006 and strives to bring its customers products that are good for the environment with a clear focus on sustainability, organic production and fair trade.
Located on Stoke Newington Church Street in N16, they have goodies in store for babies, kids and grown-ups including clothing, toys, gifts and homeware.
Bob & Blossom is located in East London, Colombia Road, E2. Launched in 2000 following the birth of the owner, Kirsten’s own son, they feature a range of baby t-shirts with cheeky slogans plus a soft cotton babywear range, birthday t-shirt collection and gorgeous frilly tutus.
We love the cool baby t-shirts that make ideal gifts for newbie parents.
Luna & Curious is a mini department store in Shoreditch that houses collections for mums and kids plus jewellery and homeware with a distinctly British focus.
At the heart of their ethos, the desire to keep Britain making their own products has inspired Luna & Curious to produce their own range of ceramics, knitwear and homeware, plus the children’s footwear collection is decidedly cute.
In ever-popular yummy mummy land, also known as Primrose Hill, is the sophisticated Elias & Grace.
The award-winning London store stocks the world’s most desirable and exclusive designer children’s fashion, shoe and accessory brands plus some select collaborations. 158, Regents Park Road, NW1.
Head over to leafy Crouch End to find Niddle Noddle, a children’s boutique offering fashion, accessories, books, toys and homeware for little and big people.
There’s a party collection, assorted arts and crafts and a vintage-inspired toy selection all priced for varying budgets, what’s not to love about this charming store.
Molly Meg in Islington offers a selection of children’s furniture, home decoration, toys, gifts and party supplies.
Their store in North London hosts collaborations with designers plus workshops for children and adults with seasonal events. We love their selection of pretty tableware and hooded bath towels.
In Hither Green, you can find Cissy Wears, a new kind of concept store with a selection of beautiful design-led products for the modern family.
They sell eco-friendly brands and include toys that are made from sustainable wood forests. Shopping here means you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too.
Have we missed any of your favourite haunts? What makes a place baby-friendly?
Please let us know in the comments below.