The Best Playdate Ideas for Young Children in Beijing
Fun is more fun together! There’s lots to do with young kids in Beijing, from playgrounds to theater to parks to run around in, but newbies will of course have to dig a bit deeper to find groups to enjoy these things with, especially when it comes to the youngest children.
Luckily, thanks to strong expat and local networks, there are plenty of opportunities for young families to meet and for babies to participate in classes and activities together. Here’s a roundup of some of Beijing’s best playdates.
This is a music class held downtown every Friday and Saturday morning with songs and rhymes from all over the world. It’s a great chance for little ones (and curious parents) to tune into different languages and cultures while singing and dancing. On Friday, it’s a mixed-age-group singing session. On Saturday, the teacher leads a class for toddlers up to age 4 at 9:30 am and then a class for babies under 18 months from 10:30 am. The group is very social and recently ran its first group outing – to an interactive children’s theater production.
Bumps2Babes is a Beijing moms forum through which a lot of playdates are organized. Coordinated by volunteers, there are sub-groups dedicated to different areas of the city and different types of playdate. It’s a very sociable group with lots of variety. Members organize coffee mornings, playgroups, lunches, outings, even holidays.
La Leche League
This international breastfeeding advocacy and support group is active in Beijing, and one of the ways it supports moms is by organizing social occasions. The group has meetings three times a month – every second and last Tuesday as well as a Saturday meeting, which is for the whole family. Meetings are places for moms to come and learn from and socialize with other breastfeeding mothers. Older kids are welcome. Meetings are often held in members’ homes and sometimes in a cafe.
Slow Boat Brewery Family Days
Among a number of craft beer haunts in Beijing, Slow Boat is one seriously family-friendly bar. Roughly once a month, it hosts themed lunchtime activities for children – with optional beer for parents to wash it down with. Usually involving a lunch deal, the family days have so far featured cookie decorating and holiday crafts for Christmas, a bilingual storytime, egg dyeing at Easter, and puppetry and dress-up. A proportion of ticket sales goes to charity.
Dads and babies playgroup
The Little Park nursery in the east of the city runs a variety of family activities including daddy and baby playgroups on Saturday mornings. The entry fee includes coffee coupons for moms at a nearby cafe, and inside the nursery are all the playthings, ball pools and musical instruments you could need to have fun with youngsters. Little Park bans mobile phones to guarantee maximum socializing, whatever your age and gender.
A lot of international families in China hire nannies – or “ayis”. Many of them have been in the nannying game for a long time and may well have built up their own networks of other ayis looking after children of similar ages in the neighborhood. It’s common to see groups of ayis and their young charges out playing together. It’s a convenient way for youngsters to make friends and get out and about. Agencies for hiring ayis include the links given above, though recommendations through schools and friends already in Beijing are another good avenue to finding domestic help.
Looking to join a community of new parents at International School Beijing?
Download the official Beijing City Guide created by ISB for a complete resource on where you can connect with other ISB parents and how you can ease the process of adapting to life in Beijing.
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