Get Carded: Essential Memberships for Families

Little Sprouts Farm

Photo courtesy Cincinnati Museum Center

Once you’ve mastered your highly erratic sleep schedule (and can change a diaper without your baby planting a foot in the unspeakable foulness that is newborn poo), you may begin to wonder what you should actually do when you aren’t just meeting basic tiny human needs. And whether you return to work full time, choose to stay at home, or mix a manic cocktail of the two, your baby’s first year of life can be an isolating one with a surprising number of hours to fill. Here are our favorite local kid-friendly memberships that will keep you sane and social:

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens hosts all the lions, tigers, and bears your mercurial-eyed wonder can handle, with the added (and blissful) bonus of the stroller nap. And while it isn’t on the menu, the Base Camp Café makes a mean cup of coffee for those early morning train rides. Did I mention a pig rolls out a red carpet for members taking advantage of early entry between March and October? A pig. Rolls out a red carpet. 

Cincinnati Museum Center
Ranked consistently in the top 10 children’s museum in the country, The Duke Energy Children’s Museum at the Cincinnati Museum Center is a wonderland for all ages. Little Sprouts Farm offers a safe, engaging space for children under four, complete with an infant garden and adjacent nursing lounge. Once your littles get a taste of the extensive water play area, however, there’s no turning back. And be advised: No amount of Dreft is capable of getting the smell of chlorine out of their clothes. But this is the price of entertainment.

Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center
Located in the heart of Northside, the Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center boasts two of a new parent’s greatest friends: good, cheap coffee and an abundance of baby gates. With twice weekly musical and bilingual story times and three separate play areas in the Play Café—complete with toys your child hasn’t licked yet—the fact that yearly memberships begin at only $35 may have you shouting, “Take. My. Money.” Or maybe that’s just me. The CFEC also offers classes for parents and young children ranging from organic gardening to creative movement, with discounts for members.  

No matter how fierce your social skills, making new friends as a parent can be an unexpected challenge. The only thing better than watching your little wonder discover the big wonders of the world is sharing these experiences with an equally sleep-deprived postpartum pal. Signing up for Meetup is free, and there’s an abundance of local groups. Find your people. You’re going to need them when first-year molars start coming in.

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