Now that I’m out of the blissful sleeplessness of the newborn phase with my second son, I can’t help but think back to when I had my first son a few years ago. We had relocated to Somerville when I was about 7 months pregnant with Sumner, and it was an exciting—but also a bit lonely—time. I remember being a little lost about what to do, where to go and what was baby-friendly. As I grew into my role as a mom, I realized that even established ‘Villens might be confused about what to do and where to go with these new humans in their lives, or how to make friends with other sleep-deprived parents.
In an effort to share what I learned over months of research, I’ve compiled a list of essential Somerville services, places, shops and groups that will help you find what you need to navigate these precious (and, yes, sleep deprived) few months ahead. Because the list of resources is large, I’ll be sharing it with you over a few posts. (The first entry in this series, Finding your Ville-age, a guide to support for new moms, can be found at the Somerville Beat.)
Somerville has so many child-friendly establishments that it’s really hard to go wrong, but here are a few of my favorite haunts. Remember: While they may seem loud to you, most people aren’t so bothered by a newborn in a restaurant. In fact, you may find you want to get out and about now—before you have a food-flinging toddler on your hands.
TIP: Many restaurants can be too small to handle a big stroller, so babywearing is a better option for a newborn if you can, particularly in the winter when the patios are closed.
Get a wonderful meal at Highland Kitchen
150 Highland Ave., Somerville
A Somerville standard for brunch and dinner, HK is a favorite of ours. Actually, it’s my 4 year old’s favorite restaurant, for many of the same reasons I love it so. The waitstaff appreciates him but never talks down to him, and always brings extra napkins without being asked. I’ve never had a meal here that hasn’t hit it right out of the park. Get there for the 5 p.m. opening for dinner, it’s the best time to go with kids who hate lines (and, um, parents who might also hate lines).
Grab a beer and pretzel at American Fresh Assembly Row.
301 Canal St., Somerville (at Assembly Row)
The beer garden from the folks at Slumbrew is a family-friendly wonder that reminds me of the German beer gardens we visited in Munich a few years ago. Simple, delicious food is served with a side of toys to play with, and the staff members are both amazing with kids and happy to make a non-judgemental beer suggestion if you need one. The mustard is house made, and this lady isn’t ashamed to say she’s eaten it with a spoon more than once. The food is sure to please both toddlers and parents alike—a true miracle. They are sometimes open during the day (weather permitting) for family socials, so make sure to join the Facebook group for the most up to date information.
Refuel at Bloc 11.
11 Bow St., Somerville
This was my favorite place to refuel after sleepless nights, and also where I met regularly with the best crew of new moms ever. (I’m sure you’ll find your own version of this, naturally or through posting on a mom’s list like I did!) The courtyard or interior can accommodate large groups, there’s a great changing table in the restroom, and the staff is super kid friendly. The iced coffee got me through many a nap-free day and the morning glory muffins are pretty much my favorite baked good of all time.
This was convenient for me as I was based in Union Sq. at the time, but the other sister locations to Bloc 11—Diesel Cafe and Forge Baking Co.—serve Davis and Central Somerville and are all as friendly and delicious (although seating can be harder to come by at Diesel).
TIP: If you don’t want to go out, bring the restaurant to you. For a whole week!
Place an order for a ONCE a Week Share through Cuisine en Locale.
Owner JJ Gonson is a mom of two, and she knows that moms need nourishing, whole foods. Every week she and her staff whip up some of the most amazing, locally sourced foods I’ve ever tasted and package them for easy reheating in your own home. For less than the cost of a week’s groceries, you can eat like royalty while still having time to get to the day’s eighth load of laundry. We’ve had a veggie share at our house, and it’s basically like bringing the restaurant to you. To quote my husband, “I’m glad Sumner doesn’t know how delicious this is, because I’m not sharing.”
Cuisine en Locale family sized meal shares are $155 and can be delivered (for a fee) or picked up in Somerville, Watertown or JP.
TIP: When you’re ready to venture out again, Cuisine en Locale also serves dinner at 156 Highland Ave., and the staff are great with kids. I highly recommend Monday Taco Nights.
While you can achieve most things without leaving Somerville, there’s some good entertainment to be had if you’re willing to travel to our neighboring towns.
Catch a baby-friendly matinee at the Capitol Theatre!
This theatre in Arlington shows a current movie every Monday at noon (excluding school vacation and holiday weeks) in a baby friendly environment. That is, the movie is for adults, but the lights are left up and sound is kept down so you can enjoy the movie and still tend to your baby. Check the website for the movie being shown each week.
See a show with Rock N Romp Boston.
Rock N Romp is a family-friendly rock show that happens DURING the DAY, with great bands to entertain parents and kids alike. The shows happen at the Sinclair in Cambridge (52 Church St.). Previous bands have included Hallelujah the Hills and Lisa Loeb.
TIP: invest in a pair of baby banz Earbanz or similar headphones if you find yourself in louder environments with your baby. They fit up to age 2 so could get lots of wear.
Hike the Fells.
One of the great things about living in Somerville is that you can be in Boston or deep in nature in a matter of minutes. As a committed city girl, it took time to convince me hiking was fun, but I’m hooked. If you want to start hiking with your baby, there’s a free hike every Wednesday in the Fells with the Babes in the Woods program. Hikes start at 10am and last until about 11:30 am. They meet at different locations, so make sure to like them on Facebook to keep updated.
A good baby carrier is key to enjoying a hike with your very little ones, so make sure to check in with Babywearing International of Greater Boston or Diaper Lab to get sorted and fitted if you haven’t already. I particularly like the Onya Baby for my large now-10 month old.