There are SO many (free!) resources for parents with babies in the Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington/Belmont/Watertown area. If you can get yourself out of the house, it is well worth it. Many events are weekly so if you don’t make it this week, there’s always next week, and no one is going to judge you if you walk in ten or twenty minutes late. (You have a baby. Things happen. If you haven’t already, add “poopsplosion” to your vocabulary.) Even if you’re a bit shy, it’s a great time to meet people. Babies are excellent icebreakers! (Also, once they can reach and grab, coffee mug breakers. Diners beware.)
The activities and resources below are ones that I have attended/used and recommend; please feel free to add your favorites to my list in the comments.
Postpartum Support Group in Waltham
Of all the things I went to in my first six months of being a parent, this was probably the most helpful, most supportive, most informative, and most important. It’s open to all parents, you don’t have to have worked with the midwives or delivered at Mount Auburn. Sometimes there are guest speakers (lactation consultants, infant massage practitioners, chiropractors, sleep experts, etc.), sometimes everyone just checks in and gets help from the other parents and the midwife who runs the group. (I ❤ Leslie!)
Hike It Baby Boston
“Hike” is a little misleading; there are some hikes but plenty of walks that are easy to do with a baby in a stroller or carrier. It’s great to get outside and there’s a “no mama left behind” policy so if you need to stop to change or nurse your baby, everyone will wait. Very friendly group, walks in many locations and different days and times.
I liked the class with Megan Dattoli at Groundwork in Belmont, but there are a surprising number of yoga classes especially for new mamas and their babies. Sure it’s a yuppie/hipster thing, and it may not work if your baby is cranky that day, but if s/he is content to nap or self-entertain for even part of the time, you get to do a little yoga without having to find a babysitter.
Belmont Public Library infant storytime
This is my favorite infant program thus far: it’s half an hour, no registration required, there is usually one story (maybe two), some songs with movement or fingerplay, and sign language; the story and songs are followed by some playtime with age-appropriate library toys, so there’s some time for parents to socialize too. The program happens in its own room right across the hall from the Children’s Department, so it’s easy to check out or return books while you’re there, and there’s a fish tank for the babies to gaze at.
Watertown Public Library Nursery Rhyme Time
This is a great program, held twice a week. It’s a little overwhelming for the younger babies, though they are welcome, but perfect for older babies or little toddlers. The librarian who leads it is wonderful! There are stories, songs, rhymes, fingerplay, and sometimes puppets.
The Loved Child free infant playgroup
Most classes and programs at TLC cost money, but the infant playgroup is free! It’s a nice way to meet other parents and babies. There’s a big mirror (most babies love looking at their own reflections), and lots of toys, so you can see what your baby likes playing with.
The book Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields: There’s a new edition every year, and it’s a great way to (1) figure out what you actually need and what is nonsense, (2) make decisions about purchases, and (3) save money on those things you do need.
Our pediatrician (wisely) told us “do not ask Dr. Google anything!” but the Moms of Camberville 2.0 group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1404189156554599/ ) is an okay place to ask for advice or opinions about sleep, teething, weird rashes, etc.
Look, it’s true: they really DO grow so fast. If you’re looking to unload outgrown items or acquire new ones, try the Somerville “S1TM Exchange” for baby/kid items (https://www.facebook.com/groups/S1FMBTSL/). Even infants have preferences, but you might not want to buy every kind of sleep suit (for example) on the market to find out what works for yours. We got rid of our glider chair and found a rock ‘n’ play via S1TM.
The Children’s Clothing Exchange (CCE) in Cambridge: Register, then bring in outgrown clothes and get right-size clothes. Genius! http://solutionsatwork.org/our-programs/childrens-clothing-exchange/
The Arlington parents’ list: if you live or work in Arlington, this is a great resource. You can get the e-mail in digest form once a day. Typical posts include ISOs (in search of) for clothes, toys, equipment, or advice (regarding daycare, summer camp, etc.) and FS (for sale – clothes, toys, etc.). http://wiki.arlingtonlist.org/arlington-parents-list
The Little Fox Shop: Located inside the Fox Branch Library in Arlington, The Little Fox Children’s Resale Shop has clothes, toys, books, and more for infants on up. (They also have some maternity clothes.) Proceeds benefit the library. http://www.littlefoxshop.com/
Growing Up Children’s Resale Boutique: Located in Belmont, a great place to sell children’s items (they won’t take everything, but you don’t have to make a special appointment) and pick up clothes, toys, sleep sacks, etc. https://www.facebook.com/growingupbelmont/info/?tab=overview
Have you found any of these useful? What’d I miss?
4/29/16 Edited to add: The Watertown Family Network and Jewish Family & Children’s Services (jfcsboston.org) are both good resources as well.