Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, June 24

Gapers Block

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You're minding your own business, living life as you've always had, when nine months later you have a squirmy, wet, gorgeous bundle in your arms and you think, "Holy crap, I'm a parent!" If you're a new parent like myself, you might be wondering, "Well, now what do I do?"

Sure, you love them, feed them, change their diapers as needed but you still find yourself thinking, "Eventually, we'll have to leave the house. What can we do as a FAMILY?" This is where I come in, providing you with useful information such as which restaurants are baby friendly; which shops have cool infant or maternity clothes; reviews of kids' records and movies; places to take your babes that -- goodness gracious -- are equally entertaining for parents. All this without the usual boo-boo cutesy drivel other columns fling at you.

For those of you who are already pros at this parenthood thing, hopefully I'll shed some light on places in the city you may have missed. And for new parents, we'll find all these gems together.

We're all busy (even now, I type this with my son in my arms) and I know every precious moment with our new babies count. So don't worry, I'll point out the good stuff and weed out the duds so you don't have to.


The Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory is a great place for even newborns. With the green house's warm and inviting temperature and the soothing water sounds throughout the conservatory, it was an ideal place for my son Vincent, his father and me to spend a couple hours.

While young babies really can't appreciate the flora per se, the complex shapes and colors of plants, trees and flowers inspire inquisitive gazes from them. And not only is there visual stimulation, there is also tactile and olfactory stimulation.


If your baby becomes hungry during your visit, there are several nooks with benches and chairs where you can feed your baby and take a little break yourself surrounded by Chihuly pieces and koi fish -- even on a Saturday, the conservatory is calm and quiet. And let's face it, as new parents we'll take calm and quiet whenever we can.

For toddlers and older children, the conservatory's interactive Children's Garden features a gargantuan vine, monster-sized pollinating bumble bee and a 7-foot-tall seed that children can explore.

The bottom line is the Garfield Park Conservatory is a pleasant, low-key way to spend an hour or two with your baby. It is large enough for adults to appreciate and tour, yet small enough to not be overwhelming for a family outing -- even for the youngest botanist.


The Garfield Park Conservatory
300 North Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624-1996

Daily Hours: 9am - 5pm
Thursday: 9am - 8pm

Next time on Car Seat: Babies and movie theaters can mix!

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Eddie / August 16, 2004 2:47 PM

Any bars with child friendly back yard type places? It is August and I still haven't taken the little tyke out for beers.

BD / August 16, 2004 2:52 PM

The Ten Cat on Ashland and Irving Park has a fantastic backyard and is definitely dog-friendly and probably child-friendly.

sistah, g! / August 16, 2004 3:28 PM

you GOOOOOOOO girl!

i'm SO! proud of you!

shechemist / August 16, 2004 4:09 PM

the village tap on roscoe has a back yard and is kid friendly.

Alejandra / August 16, 2004 5:12 PM

Yep, the Village Tap is a good place, as is O'Donovan's, Navy Pier's beer garden -- if you don't mind the crowds or tourists. Those are a few off the top of my head, but I think this merits more investigation on my part. Darn, I guess I have to go out drinking! ;)

gezellig_girl / September 9, 2004 3:49 PM

I would just like to point out that the phrase "HOLY CRAP!" was the first thing my daughter heard me say, right as the midwife blapped her down on my belly, like I just landed a slimy alien trout.


About the Author(s)

Alejandra Valera is a new mom and writer. If there's a baby- or kid-friendly place, product or event you think she should cover, email her at .

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