Baby Steps through Pretend City Review

What It is:

Did you know that once a month Pretend City closes its doors to the masses and has a program just for those 0-18 months?

They do and it is called Baby Steps Through Pretend City! It is a time for adults and little ones to enjoy Pretend City without having to worry about bigger kids. They don’t even let older siblings in.

Each month has a different theme like starting different foods, celebrating mom, celebrating dad, parent self-care, and summertime.

What We Did:

After checking in, it is best to park your stroller if you have one. They have a stroller parking area and you can’t use your stroller around the rest of Pretend City. I bring in a stroller because it is a nice place to have a home base. I leave the diaper bag there and anything I collect can go back there.

There is a table near stroller parking that is for the developmental screening. It is totally optional, but spots fill up FAST so if you decide you want to do this. Sign up as you pass the table. Trust me! They have a questionnaire for different ages and they go through it with you and your baby to see how they are developing and if they are on track. They also give you ideas of things that you can do at home to help their development along. I found this really interesting as a first time mom that was not familiar with kids at all before C.

Then there is the art studio. Normally this is geared toward older kids, but not during Baby Steps. They move the table out of the way and have a large paper set up on the floor. Each time they have a different activity based on the theme. It is generally footprints for the smaller ones and some sort of finger painting for the older ones. I like doing the footprint once a month because I then have a cute print to show how C has grown. I have done the finger painting a few times and C is just starting to get the hang of it around 7 months. He still wants to eat it though. Which was fine when the theme was foods and the finger paint was actually food!

Crawling in the toddler area

Then we go around and play on all the different stuff! There is an infant area that is small and enclosed so that they can play in a calmer area. As well as a toddler area and is enclosed and has a bunch of squishy equipment to crawl through and on.

There is also a water area that is generally open to build boats and let them float through. I haven’t seen them really use this since the kids are all so little for this. But next to it is the “beach.” It is a little sandy area with sand toys that lets the kids learn about a different texture. Surprisingly it wiped off really easily, unlike the real beach.

The “beach”

On the other side is a Trader Joe’s grocery store that the kids that can walk really like to play in. There is also a little farm area where there are live chicks (totally enclosed so that they aren’t harmed.) C really likes to watch them. There is also fake trees that have spots where kids can “pick fruit” which is basically getting the fruit out of the holes in the branches of the tree. And there is a garden area. The dirt is made of recycled tires and I’ve noticed that the kids really like the texture and love to dig in it.

Checking out the “dirt”

There is also someone that comes from an early literacy program that gives out free kids books. C and I make a point to stop here to find something new to read. Even if you don’t want a book it is a nice break from the other activities.

Reading

There are talks that start about halfway through. You don’t have to go to these, but they can be helpful. I really like the self-care group. It made me think about things differently. Depending on the topic, they are broken up by age. The food theme one had different topics such as “When to start solids,” and “Favorite foods.”

At the end is a parade. They hand out scarfs to the kids and turn on music. Everyone walks around Pretend City (it is pretty much a circle) dancing and singing their way out. It is a nice way to end.

Good:

  • So many different things to try!
  • Helpful themes.
  • Gives you ideas of things to do at home.
  • Equipment and toys that are specific to places like Pretend City.

Not So Good:

  • It can get really packed.
  • If your baby isn’t quite mobile, or trying to be mobile, it can be harder to find things to do.
  • I wish that the talks were announced better so that you knew it was time. The loud speaker isn’t always that loud.

Cost:

Infants and Pretend City members are free.

$10 per adult if you register online before. $12 if you pay at the door.

Our Verdict:

I thought this was a nice activity. There are lots of different things there that C wouldn’t normally get to see or touch. The themes can be fun and the activities and resources are extremely helpful.

I went a few times before I decided to become a member because the price justified itself even if I go only during Baby Steps for the year. Plus it is a tax write off and a great nonprofit.

Their Website:

Information about the program: https://www.pretendcity.org/baby-steps/

The list of upcoming events for Baby Steps: https://www.pretendcity.org/events/category/infants/

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