Williamsburg Baby Resources

WilliamsburgWalks Street Fair, via Neighbors Allied for Good Growth

Welcome to Williamsburg Baby!


In the decade or so since I've lived in Williamsburg, the neighborhood has changed a great deal and experienced a tremendous baby boom. While I began this blog as a place to record my personal thoughts about raising a family here, I thought it might be helpful to pass along some of what I've discovered since I learned I was expecting my first child. 

North Brooklyn is a fantastic place to start a family: first and foremost because it's a walkable place with plenty of outdoor spaces as well tons of businesses serving children and their parents, with more popping up every few weeks. 

Find out more about why I think Brooklyn is great for babies in my Brooklyn for Babies 101 post. And it's great for other stuff too (which makes it all the more great for babies' parents, in my opinion.)

And check back for more as I figure out this whole mama-to-be thing...every time I see a flier for a new kids' class or get a recommendation from a local parent, I update this page.  If you signed up for just a fraction of what's on offer, you could take helicopter parenting to a whole new level (I am not suggesting you do that!) Still, in a place where most people are confined to small-ish apartments with manically energetic young children, it's reassuring to know just how many options there are. 

  • For general posts on local news and living in Williamsburg, go here.
    • For New York magazine's list of children's boutiques in North Brooklyn, go here.

    Prenatal Resources


    Kula Yoga Prenatal Classes
    Kula offers bi-weekly prenatal yoga classes and yoga classes for moms and babies of different ages. After class, the juice bar, which also offers yummy vegetarian fare, is a good place to chat to other women, and the more I go the more I feel that's it's a social as well as a physical experience. A few other moms-to-be I've met have also raved about the pre-natal classes at Abhyasa.

    Birthday Presence Childbirth Education (at Caribou Baby)
    Will and I took four weekly childbirth prep classes with Birth Day Presence. The evening classes were taught by doula and childbirth educator Meghan Mahar, and were really helpful. I wrote a few entries, here and here, about the sessions. Meghan also came to our apartment to give us a private lesson on newborn care and breastfeeding in the week before Axel was born, showing us swaddling basics and more.

    Massage Williamsburg
    Forget the cheap nail places (or the fancy spas in the city.) Go to Massage Williamsburg, an unassuming place on Wythe and N. 6th St. A lot of their masseuses are certified in pre-natal massage and the owner, Rachel Beider, is a doula as well.

    Paul Kostas, Personal Trainer
    I've been working out with Paul for a few years, and when I found out I was pregnant I was thrilled to learn he's certified in pre- and post-natal training and that I could keep it up. He works out of a private space near McCarren Park (or can come to you, in some cases.)

    Labor Resources


    Grace MacNair, Doula
    I raved about our birth doula, Grace, in the posts that made up Axel's birth story. She is fantastic. For more on my labor experience and how she helped, check out the following. If you want a natural, med-free childbirth, I can't stress how key it is to have a doula. She is affiliated with Carriage House Birth, another great local resource for expecting parents.

    Birth Story: The Last Week

    Birth Story: Early Labor

    Birth Story: Sunday

    Birth Story: At Home

    Birth Story: He's Here!

    Birth Story: What Got Me Through

    Oscar's birth story is here:

    Birth Story: The Week Before

    Birth Story: Sunday

    Postnatal Fitness


    Mighty Mamas and Strollfit
    Two group workout options for new mothers (babies too.) Mighty Mamas meets in McCarren park, while Strollfit alternates between the park and Play just off the park. Once I got my clearance to workout after Axel's birth, I signed up for a month of unlimited Baby Boot Camp classes. To be honest, I kind of pictured something hokey where we jogged with the strollers. Instead, it's a typical P.E. style class (lunges, star jumps, ab workouts, resistance training with bands) while the babies chill out in their strollers. If Axel got unruly I could either take a break or figure out a way to work him into the routine. There are mom & baby yoga classes at Chalk Gym while Retro Fitness offers childcare.

    Postnatal Pilates at Sangha Yoga Shala
    Two babies in, and I've started to get serious about regaining my core strength. Sangha Yoga offers postnatal Pilates classes, and babies are welcome (it's best if they are not yet crawling.)

    Community Organizations & Local Blogs


    Brooklyn Baby Hui
    This is a yahoo message board for local parents and parents-to-be. There's great info about childcare, doulas, trainers, baby wares for free or for sale, and more. In order to join, you need to send an email to the administrator. They have smaller groups for moms having babies around the same time as well which also require that you email to join. I've been meeting up with the ladies from the Summer 2012 moms' group and it's been so key for my mental health (and fun as well.)

    Caribou Baby
    This great little shop and education center is quickly becoming a hub for all things mama and baby related in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. They offer classes in childbirth education (care of Birth Day Presence), baby massage, and pilates as well as drop in playgroups for mamas and babies of all ages. And the very sweet clothes from Nature Baby are lovely. I pop in here constantly! The breastfeeding support group saved my sanity during Axel's first week home, and they helped demo my baby sling before and after his birth. Another great resource at Caribou is their lending library. They have a stack of books on breastfeeding, sleep habits, pregnancy and more (and borrowing them instead of buying them has saved me hundreds of dollars.) Axel loves their Rocking Chair Music series.

    Neighbors Allied for Good Growth
    NAG, a local community group, advocates for the development and improvement of local parks and hosts community events like the pop up street fair Williamsburg Walks, family movie nights in East River State Park, and more.

    Town Square
    This is a neighborhood alliance focusing on Williamsburg and Greenpoint. They host a number of great seasonal events like the Greenpoint Halloween Parade, an Easter egg hunt, and community activities like clean ups of local parks, free movies in the parks, chess tournaments, art shows, and more.

    For local news, I like to check DNA Info's Williamsburg page, Greenpointers, Free Williamsburg, and Bedford and Bowery. 


    Music Classes


    Blue Balloon Songwriting
    Little Rock Its
    Music for Aardvarks 
    Rocking Chair Music at Caribou Baby
    Rug Bug Music

    Sing-a-longs at The Knitting Factory
    Sing-a-longs every Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 a.m. (Drop-in, $3)

    Williamsburg Music Studio
    Guitar, Violin, and Piano for pre-schoolers and beyond.

    Williamsburg School of Music
    Band, "Baby Rock" classes, private lessons and more. 

    Arts Classes


    Arts and Crafts
    When Axel is ready to channel his inner Picasso, Williamsburg will be ready for him. There are arts & crafts classes at:

    Eckford Street Studio (We've loved Art Lab Junior!)
    Bird River Studios
    Lemon Sky
    Chroma
    The Painted Cloud
    Mini Hands
    Brunchcraft at Isa offers one off brunch & craft sessions.

    Sports (Gymnastics, Soccer, and Swimming) Classes


    Aqua Beba Swimming Classes
    When it's humid and horrible out (and you're 8 months pregnant), getting in a pool seems like a pretty fabulous idea. Aqua Beba offers private prenatal swimming classes (email them for info) at a few local condo pools, and you don't have to be a resident to join. They also teach little ones how to swim, beginning with classes at just 4 months. So far, Axel's loving his introduction to the water. The baby classes take place in a heated, saltwater pool.

    Go Go Babies
    We don't have experience with these classes, for children from 6 weeks - 14 months old, but  if you're looking for help with movement and tummy time, they offer sessions at Caribou Baby.

    McCarren Park Play Center
    The NYC-run Play Center at McCarren Park is brand new and offers great indoor movement classes, plus things like soccer, basketball, and art for toddlers and older kids. The membership is really affordable and classes are drop-in and free.

    Streb Movement Classes
    Streb, a cool local center for dancers, aerialists and gymnasts, offers classes in Williamsburg for children as young as 18 months. Miss J's, a gymnastics center, also offers classes beginning at that age, while Petite Division offers ballet beginning at age 2.

    Super Soccer Stars
    If Axel's early obsession with balls is anything to go by, I have an inkling the phrase soccer mom might be in my future. Now that the Bushwick Inlet Park ball fields are complete, I see tons of age groups taking classes and playing games there. For those under two, there are Kick and Play classes, which take place locally at Frolic.

    Free Events & Outdoor Spaces


    Babies and Books
    Axel adores this reading group at the Leonard Library. The Brooklyn Public Library system has events like this on a weekly basis, across the borough, and they're free.

    There are tons of playgrounds, parks, and outdoor activities in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Check out McCarren Park and the McCarren Park Pool (also free!), Transmitter Park, Bushwick Inlet ParkEast River State Park and the pier near the East River Ferry. There's also McGolrick Park and Cooper Park.

    Children's Books Events at Word
    Check the schedule at Word, an independent bookshop in Greenpoint, for kids' events. 

    Children's Parties


    Brooklyn Balloon Company
    Animal balloons and face painting for children's birthday parties!

    Misc. 


    Diaper Kind
    An eco-friendly cloth diaper laundry service that services Williamsburg. I don't know if we'll go this route (or at lease, I'm going to get out of the newborn survival stage first), but it's great to have the choice. Diaper Kind seems pretty reasonably priced at $35 or $50 a week. You need to get set up with all the right gear first.

    Edamama Cute Cuts
    This family-owned hair salon for kids (on Union near McCarren Park) doubles as a coffee shop, children's book store, and class venue, with options like cooking, singalongs, and French for the pre-school set.

    Estate Planning
    Often, in the excitement of setting up baby registries and selecting strollers, it's easy to forget about the real planning that parents need to do, like setting up 529s for college and estate planning. Laura Fischer Harbage, who comes highly recommended on the Brooklyn Baby Hui and elsewhere, helped us tackle the latter.

    Jami Saunders Photography
    Jami Saunders took Axel's newborn photos and did a wonderful job. She also offers cool packages that include three photo shoots at different points in a baby's first year and she photographs older children too.

    Kids' Movie Screenings
    Every week, Videology offers screenings of Sesame Street ($2/family) and children's movies.
    I've also seen notices for baby-friendly screenings at Nighthawk. I couldn't find info about this on Nighthawk's site, but there is a Facebook group you can join. Movies! With screaming babies! Well, this doesn't sound fab, but the knowledge that everyone is in the same boat is something.

    Language Classes
    French for Little Ones offers French playgroups for babies and toddlers in South Brooklyn and Williamsburg. Axel began attending a session at 13 months, and I think he was a little young to get much out of it, but it was cute nonetheless. French songs, counting games, and very simple vocab lessons. I'd recommend starting at around 2.

    Puppetsburg
    Puppets kind of freak me out, but you can sign up for packages of these creative shows (or drop in on a per show basis.)

    School Select NYC
    Local mom Leah Wiseman Fink has an education consultancy that can help you navigate the Williamsburg and Greenpoint school options.


    Rainy Day Activities & Indoor Playspaces

    Seemingly overnight, there are a gazillion places to play indoors in Williamsburg and Greenpoint during the winter. These local play centers offer classes, memberships, and some offer one-day play passes and host birthday parties. Some are slick and a little corporate in feel, while others have a more homespun vibe. 

    Play
    I had the pleasure of meeting the original owners of Play on a magazine shoot. In addition to designing the lovely Phoenix and Nola clothing label, Katja and Wade opened this airy indoor play space on Nassau Avenue. While the space is very child-friendly, it's not cloying. Since 2012, it's been under new ownership, but it's still charming and relaxed and offers a discount on packs of drop-in play cards.

    The Gym Park
    An indoor space in Greenpoint that also hosts Mommy & Me and gymnastics classes. This is a little bit of a hike for us so we have yet to check it out in person.

    Kidville
    Kidville offers gym classes, art classes, and singalongs as well as open play passes in their naturally lit gym. It's very cute though the schedules are not online.

    Klub 4 Kidz
    Okay, the name is a little (a lot) cloying, and the view through the windows on North 4th Street, of a maze of tubes and tunnels, might initially put you off, but I like that Klub 4 Kidz has a dedicated toddler play room and isn't too busy on weekday mornings. Also, Axel loves those crazy tunnels.

    Miss J's Gymnastics
    For a $40 annual fee, plus $6 each time you drop-in, Miss J's has open play sessions (known as "Family Fun") twice a day.

    New York Kids' Club
    The newest of the bunch, NY Kids Club offers a nursery school program and a ton of classes, with open play passes for those enrolled.

    Twinkle Playspace
    Twinkle is a wonderfully creative place. The little mini grocery store reminds me of the childrens' museum in D.C. and If you live nearby, I can see this being a life saver when I have a restless toddler on a rainy day. They do children's birthdays too.


    Meals for New Parents (and harried, not-so-new-parents)


    Even though there are hundreds of delivery and takeout options in Williamsburg, sometimes you want something simple and homemade. I've heard raves about Early Bird Cookery, though their service is expensive.

    So far, I've loved Sip Soups, a small company that has two soups a week on offer. You send them an email and your soup is delivered on Wednesdays. If someone is home to receive deliveries, this would make a nice gift.

    I'd also recommend dcuisine, a new national meal delivery service (that's based in the city) that I've had the pleasure of consulting on. The soups and beef stew are delicious, and the lack of mess is a real plus.

    Lastly, Blue Apron is a really clever idea. You can read about our test run here. They send you all the ingredients and recipe cards for three meals a week, which saves the day when you get home from work and have no idea what to do for dinner.

    3 comments:

    1. Dear Sarah, I am the founder of Project Playdate which runs 3 hour drop off playdates and pajama parties at the best kid-friendly attractions in NYC. I wanted to share that we've officially launched in Williamsburg (my hometown too!) last month at Klub for Kidz. We had an amazing pajama party there in May and will be back on Friday, June 27th from 6:30pm-9:30pm. This is for ages 2-6. I am reaching out with hope that you might have some advice on how I can spread the word about this upcoming event. I know so many families in the neighborhood would LOVE this service but I'm not quite sure how to reach them. Thank you for your time and congratulations on having baby Oscar!!

      ReplyDelete
    2. Dear Sarah,
      Hi, how are you? My name is Julie and I'm from Baby Caravan. We work with new and expecting mothers and offer doula and postpartum services. Below I have included a link to our website as well as my email.
      I was hoping we could discuss the possibility of teaming up-adding each other to resource lists, getting involved on social media, etc.
      Thank you so much. Hope to hear from you soon!

      Best,
      Julie Leow

      www.babycaravan.com
      julie.leow@babycaravan.com

      ReplyDelete
    3. Dear Sarah,
      I just want to spread the word about my talented hubby who takes amazing portraits of kids, as well as family portraits and events. I included link to his website below.

      www.paulbanksphotography.com
      paul@paulbanksphotography.com

      Thank you so much!
      Kasia

      ReplyDelete

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