The RVA Guide for New Parents
Updated: 1 day ago
Expecting a new baby? New to the area with a kiddo under one year old? Want to support new family? I've rounded up 10+ places, spaces and organizations that support new families and babies around Richmond, Virginia.
In those first three months with our first baby, we felt all the feels - love, excitement, nerves, exhaustion! As a stay at home mom, I even felt a little isolated while my husband was at work. I was ready to to get out of the house and learn new things with my first child, but I was a little lost on where to start -- What if the park wasn't stroller friendly? Where can we get easy meals? Where can I meet other new moms?
Well, these Richmond area places, spaces and organizations are new parent approved! They range from helping new parents learn something new and meeting other new parents from around RVA to offering ready made meals to go and providing newborn essentials to families in need. Hopefully, these spaces will help you feel equipped and excited to explore RVA with littles.
Tips & Tricks for New & Expecting Parents in RVA:
1. Tour your labor and delivery hospital! Each of our local hospitals offer tours of the labor and delivery unit (free) as well as classes on childbirth, nursing and more. These classes are really helpful!
Henrico Doctors Hospital: Call 804-320-3627 to schedule a tour or sign up for a prenatal class.
Johnston-Willis Hospital: Call 804-320-3627 to schedule a tour or sign up for a prenatal class.
St. Francis Medical Center & St. Mary's Hospital: Call the Bon Secours Baby Line at 804-340-2229 and schedule a "Love and Learn" tour. Make sure to specify which hospital you'd like to tour.
2. Check out My Favorite Stroller Friendly Walks. I've got ideas for outdoor and indoor walks around the Richmond metro area!
The first place I went by myself with my newborn was around my neighborhood. H was born in September, so I was lucky that the weather was cooling off and we could walk outside. In December and for the majority of the winter, I walked around Regency Mall. It was never crowded during the week! Luckily, for new parents now, Regency is almost completely refurbished with new restaurants - so there's a lot of new things to see and do.
3. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: This is the only membership we've kept for 6 years straight. It's located in Lakeside, and it is the best multigenerational spot in RVA! All of the paths are ADA accessible, it has a cafe and restaurant on property, the library is open all year, and they offer children's programming throughout the year. As a new mom, it was nice to have a beautiful place to walk that has easy access to bathrooms and places to nurse.
Our favorite area of the garden -- The Children's Garden -- is currently undergoing refurbishments to the tree house and the splash park. It is so much fun to visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day, especially if you don't have a pool membership.
4. Local RVA Malls: Our Richmond area shopping malls provide an easy spot to stroll and explore with babies, and they are always free to visit. Both Short Pump Mall, located in Short Pump, and Stony Point Mall, located in the city of Richmond, have outdoor place spaces with turf- my children loved to crawl and explore these areas. Short Pump Mall also has an indoor play area, Pal's Clubhouse. It's open year around except in December (Santa pictures) and Easter (Easter Bunny pictures).
Regency Square Mall is still my go-to spot when I need an easy & free place to walk with my kids on cold or rainy days.
5. Paid Parent and Me Programs:
When my son turned 4 months old, I tried my first mommy and me class: VMFA's Artsy Infants class. I love classes for babies because it gives me time to interact with other adults, learn from a teacher and expose my baby to a new environment. We went to an art class once a month for the rest of that year. I then added CORE Gymnastics and Miss Anne's Music and Movement to our rotation. These classes not only gave us something to do out of the house, but they also helped me make new *mom friends* and teach me different ways to help my son meet milestones like crawling and walking.
Here are a few parent and me classes to try around Richmond!
The Bunny Hive: Located in Westhampton, this social club is for children 4 and younger and their grownups. What I love about this spot is that it is designed for families with little kids, and it immediately connects you to other families who are in a similar stage of life.
It opens at 8:30 six days a week - perfect for early risers or to sneak in a class before work. They offer over 7 different classes, like baby massage, yoga, culinary exploration, and ballet. Each one is 30 minutes, and the schedule changes weekly.
Want to try a *FREE* class first? Sign up for story time on Fridays from 3-3:30.
Miss Anne, one of our favorite classes for babies through preschoolers, offers outdoor & indoor music and movement classes. She is the music teacher for All Saints Preschool, and she is fantastic! Her outdoor, drop-in style class at All Saints Church in the West End cost around $7 per parent/child pair and $5 for siblings.
*Another music program to try is Melody Magic Music .
Located in Midlothian, The Art Factory Play Cafe has an indoor play space for children 5 and younger (limited to 12-14 kids at a time). It's open Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm, and weekend hours vary due to private parties. It costs $8 per child, and parent can even enjoy some of the cafe items while little ones play. Please note: this is not a drop-off program. Parents must remain with their kiddos.
Do you have to take your baby or crawler to an indoor play space? No! Does it get you out of the house and give you something fun to do? Yes! We starting going to the Play Cafe when H was 2.5 years old and G was 7 months old.
*Check here for my full review.
VMFA Early Childhood Art Classes: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers early childhood art classes for children 3 months to 5 years old each week. This was one of the first *mommy and me* classes I tried as a new mom & as a mom of 2 under two. And… I like them as much as my kiddos do! In each class, children have free play time, story time, a tour of one exhibit & an art project. The classes are also a great way to meet other families with similar age littles.
*Check here for a full review.
6. Free Parent and Me Programs:
I really like the free, story time classes that our local libraries offer throughout the year. And you don't have to be a resident of that county/city or even have a library card to participate in these drop-in style, programs.
Classes are for newborns through adults, and all of the programs are free. Some of the classes we have tried through Henrico County Public Libraries are "Baby Songs & Stories," "Family Fun" and "Music, Rhymes & Wiggle Time."
Libbie Mill Library's Newborn Giggle & Gather class meets on Thursdays from 9:30AM-10AM. This class is for babies who are not yet walking.
*Check here for my review of an infant storytime , here for the full schedule of events at Henrico County Public Libraries, here for Chesterfield County Public Libraries , and here for the City of Richmond storytime schedule.
7. Locally-owned Gyms: The RVA area has a couple of locally-owned gyms that are just for women. These programs more than just a "workout" - they connect new moms to a community instantly and your children can come along. Yep - you don't have to worry about finding childcare in order to join these communities of local RVA women. Each program includes children, either in the class or by providing care.
Fit 4 Mom: Our local Richmond chapter is owned by RVA mom Natalie. I love how her work out programs are tailored to prenatal and postnatal fitness, and she focuses on creating a strong, mom community. I like her stroller strides program because it's a fun way to get moving, meet other moms, and bring your baby along. Her classes meet all over Richmond - near Westchester Commons, at Byrd Park, at Maymont Park and at Deep Run Park.
Natalie is a wonderful help with children too - I vividly remember her rocking G while I worked out. They also partner with local children's program, like Itty Bitty Yogis, so toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy an activity too.
*Check here to learn more. They offer a free trial class.
Want more classes to try with your baby? Check out my guide to 7 Classes for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers in Richmond.
Looking to donate your baby clothes or gear? Check out Little Hands Virginia. This local non-profit helps babies and children in the Richmond metro area, making sure they have the essentials to thrive starting at Day 1. They accept donations of baby clothes, gear, diapers and more. While most items can be used, some must be new (diapers, towels). For a full list of things you can donate, check here.
As of January 2022, they've served over 1,800 children. Their requests were filled and delivered by over 200 volunteers, and they work with over 60 community partners to identify children in need of support.
*Little Hands Virginia is hosting their first ever family benefit! A Night at the Museum is on January 28 from 5pm-7pm at Virginia Museum of History and Culture. The event will have a scavenger hunt, story time, music and surprises. Click here to purchase tickets.
Need easy meals for your family or to gift to new parents? Check out these local restaurants. They offer ready made meals that you just have to heat up!
1. Tazza To Go: This is one of our favorite places to order a complete meal. You can order a BBQ Kit, a Taco Kit, salads, entrees, desserts & cocktails. All items come chilled; you just have to heat them up. Heads up: they are closed on Sunday.
2. Stella's Grocery : This gourmet market sells prepared foods, sandwiches, desserts and more. We love their Greek meals & chocolate chip cookies (they come frozen & you just pop them in the oven). Most of the meals come chilled; you just have to heat them up! They are closed on Sunday.
3. Taste Unlimited: This local restaurant has frozen family meals ready to pick up anytime, and they even have vegetarian & gluten free options. They have entrees like rustic sausage lasagna, vegetable lasagna, mac & cheese and quiche. We also love how you can make your meal into a "family dinner" by adding a salad, bread, and dessert.
4. Supper Club: This locally owned, gourmet grocer offers rotating menus weekly. You can swing by the store or pre-order on line. You can pick up anything from ham rolls and cheese dips to full meals of salad, chicken pot pie, shrimp saganki, and dessert. They are closed on Sundays.
5. Whisk: You can order pastry & breakfast items to go from this local bakery. They have freezer to oven pastries like monkey bread, french buns or croissants. For same day pickup, call the store.
*For even more things to do with kids in Richmond, follow our family on @thewestendmom on Instagram!