So you've had a baby? Congratulations! But that doesn't have to be the end of your social and cultural life, and you don't need to spend a fortune on babysitters to enjoy London.
Plenty of venues run events aimed at parents with newborns — and we don't mean music classes, baby sensory sessions, soft play sessions and the like which, let's be honest, are really there for the youngsters. These are events aimed at and designed for the adults — your baby just happens to be there.
Note: when we say 'parents', most of these events are open to mum, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles or carers — as long as you've got a baby with you (that you've acquired legally...) you're in.
Bring Your Own Baby Comedy
The funniest thing in the world is obviously your baby pulling funny faces, but the next best thing is an actual, professional comedian. Bring Your Own Baby runs afternoon comedy shows at venues across London and the south east, including East Dulwich Picturehouse, Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green, and The Fireworks Factory in Woolwich.
The running time is about 75 minutes, with a 15-minute interval. Breastfeeding is welcome at any time in the show, and all venues have bottle-warming facilities, plus baby changing areas and a buggy park.
As it's a show for adults, the comedy sets can get a little sweary or lewd, so there's an upper-age limit of 15 months for babies — any older and they might start taking in what's going on and repeat it, no doubt when grandma's around.
Bring Your Own Baby Comedy — check website for upcoming shows.
Bring Your Baby pub quiz
Start training up the newest member of your quiz team early, at the Bring Your Baby pub quiz. They take place at pubs all over the capital during the daytime, and progress at a slower rate than your average quiz with questions repeated several times, and breaks for feeding and the like, so you won't miss anything while your little one demands your attention.
A soft flooring play area with toys and books for babies is set up at each session, and all venues have baby changing facilities and high chairs. Toddlers are welcome too, though you are asked to ensure they are supervised and entertained throughout. And obviously, there are prizes — it's a pub quiz, after all.
Bring Your Baby pub quiz — check website for next events. Teams are max six adults — you can email the organiser in advance to ask them to allocate you a team if you're flying solo, or baby-free friends are welcome too, to make up the numbers.
Bring Your Baby guided London walks
The same company which runs the pub quizzes also offers Bring Your Baby guided walks around London — ideal if your little one requires a moving pushchair to send them to sleep.
The topics of the walks are similar to those offered by any other London walking tour company. Some cover certain geographical areas, such as 'Secrets of Islington Squares', or 'Life, Death & Beyond in East Bloomsbury'. Others centre around a certain topic, such as the real-life locations of Call The Midwife, or London nursery rhymes (not all themes are to do with parenting, though!).
Everyone on the walk has a baby with them, so there's plenty of understanding if you need to stop for a change or feed. Plus, every walk involves a stop at a venue suitable for changing, feeding, and stocking up on refreshments for the grown-ups. Walks tend to last about three hours.
Bring Your Baby guided London walks — check website for upcoming walks.
Parent and baby film screenings
Most cinemas run certain screenings aimed at parents with babies, where they tend to relax the rules on noise and the like, and everyone around you is fairly understanding, as they're a parent or carer too.
Barbican Cinema is big on Parent and Baby screenings, showing newly released films every Monday morning for carers with babies aged under 12 months. Lights are higher and sound is lower than a normal screening.
Stepney Green's Genesis Cinema runs Parent + Baby screenings of newly -released films each week, usually 11am on Thursday, and for carers with babies under one.
Bringing Up Baby screenings at Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley take place every Wednesday in term time, for anyone with a baby under 12 months. Some lights are kept on and the sound is lower than normal. There's a chance to chat to other parents and carers over tea and cake afterwards. You do need to get a (free) membership to be able to attend.
Babes In Arms is the name of Art House Crouch End's baby-friendly screenings. Again, your own babe in arms has to be under a year old, some lights are left on, and baby changing facilities are available. If possible, leave the pushchair at home, as it'll have to stay in the foyer, and space is limited.
The Lexi in Kensal Rise hosts Wednesday morning baby-friendly screenings. Again, it's for babies under one-year-old, and walking around during the film is completely fine should you need to soothe your little one.
Dalton's Rio is another indy cinema offering a Parent & Baby Club. Head along on a Tuesday morning and enjoy something to eat or drink in the cafe before watching a new release.
Ciné Lumiere, the French cinema in South Kensington, offers occasional CinéBabies screenings of new films, usually in French with English subtitles.
Plenty of the big chain cinemas offer parent and baby screenings too — check at your local branch for details.
Big Fish Little Fish family raves
A regular fixture in our London event listings, Big Fish Little Fish family raves are for parents who aren't done partying just yet. Unlike the other events on this list, they're aimed at keeping grown-ups and kids happy in equal measure.
The lowdown: literally, a rave. Dance floor, live DJs playing club classics, loud music, plenty of boogying en famille. There's often a fancy dress theme, though costumes are optional, plus bubble machines, glitter cannons, giant balloons, crafting activities and face painting are all thrown into the mix to keep little ones happy.
There's usually a chill-out space specially for babies and their families, to give them somewhere safe to crawl about, away from overexcited older kids.
Age wise, the event is aimed at families with kids of any age under 8 — though older siblings are welcome to come along too. Maximum of three children per adult, or conversely, four adults per child.
Big Fish Little Fish, check website for details of upcoming events.
Babble Talks — lectures for parents
Climate change, conservation, forgotten female writers, Caracas, London archaeology, and the science of love are just some of the topics covered in past Babble Talks events, a programme of lecturers aimed at parents, but not about parenting. Each daytime event has a different guest speaker who gives a 30-minute talk — bring your baby (under one year old) along with you, and 'reclaim your brain'.
At time of writing Babble Talks haven't resumed since the pandemic, but we hope to see them back up and running again soon.
Know of any other events designed for parents or carers with young babies? Let us know in the comments.