By Pamela Weinberg
I had the opportunity to speak to a 100 new and expectant moms recently at a Baby Bites (Babybitesnyc.com) event at The Tudor Hotel. The moms (and some dads) were an engaged group, and had lots of questions. Here are some of the tips I shared with the crowd:
Forming a playgroup is one of the best (and least expensive!) forms of entertainment for you and your new baby. Playgroups are for moms and babies and typically meet once a week in rotating apartments. Tips for forming a playgroup include:
4 to 6 moms and babies are a good amount to have—any more can be too crowded in the typical NYC apartment.
Invite moms to join that you meet at a Baby Bites luncheon, pediatrician’s office, even in your building.
Great to have a three-month span in the ages of the babies.
Meet indoors in the colder months, outdoors in Central Park in the spring and summer.
Finding childcare for your new baby is one of the most important jobs for new parents. There are many options in childcare from baby nurses, to doulas and au pairs to nannies. Of course babysitters and daycare centers too. Finding childcare is easy, finding great childcare is not:
Baby Bites’ website is a great resource for nannies/babysitters: nannies on the site can only be posted if they have a reference that agrees to be listed.
Word-of-mouth is generally the best way to find a nanny/caregiver. Save working with an Agency for looking for a baby nurse or doula.
Check message boards at the pediatrician/ob-gyn offices and any place you take a baby class.
Babysitters can be hired through Barnard Babysitting service (212-854-2035) and Pinch Sitters (212-260-6005).
Daycare centers listed by zip code through The Daycare Council of New York (212-206-7818).
Au Pairs: not recommended for newborns
Non-negotiable when hiring a nanny: newborn experience and checkable references.
There are an infinite amount of classes that you can take with your baby in New York. Infant massage, yoga, music, gym, art, French, sign language, swim are only a few suggestions. How do you decide where to begin?
From newborn to six months, any classes you take should benefit the mom. Babies don’t need gym classes or socialization yet.
Six to 12 months: choose one class to take. Most moms chose gym or music to begin. One class “per semester” is appropriate.
Choose a class within 10 blocks of your apartment—preferably closer. Convenience is key to getting to class on time.
Make sure the class is easy to get to (no lugging the stroller up a flight of stairs) and is clean—especially the floor where the baby will be.
Try a sample class before you commit. Classes are expensive and a sample class allows you to see if you and baby like the class before you spend 18 weeks there.
Keeping your Career Skills Alive
If you have decided to take some time off to raise your baby, or are going on a long maternity leave, you want to make sure that you stay connected to your career while staying at home with your baby. This will insure an easier transition back to the workplace when the time comes. Some tips for doing this include:
Staying connected via social media: twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
Have business cards made so that you can continue to network in your chosen field, or branch into a new one
Volunteer smartly by taking on volunteer positions which complement and enhance your skills
Keep your skills updated: technology, analytical, writing, etc.
Stay in touch with former colleagues and your industry by attending periodical trade events and social get-togethers.
Pamela Weinberg is Co-author of City Baby: a resource guide for having a baby in New York City (citybabyny.com) and co-founder of Mind Your Own Business Moms (MYOBMoms.com): a business dedicated to helping moms return to the workplace. Contact Pamela at Pamela@citybabyny.com, and follow her on twitter at: www.twitter.com/citybabymom.