Top Family Tips for London and Britain

 

That didn't take long: Just after the announcement that Great Britain's Prince William and his Mrs., the Duchess of Cambridge, would become parents to the newest heir next year, VisitLondon made a list of some baby-friendly attractions and activities for babies, parents and those expecting for 2013. 

Mums-to-be

For a baby shower fit for a Duchess, indulge at ESPA at The Corinthia Hotel, which has a great range of spa options for mums-to-be, including massages and treatments.  Tie it in with an afternoon tea at the Spa Lounge for a super relaxing experience.

Ladies who are expecting know it’s important to keep fit and healthy during pregnancy, and Tri-yoga, offer a range of pregnancy yoga classes from the second trimester.

Everyone knows babies need to be "kitted out," so William and Kate can stock up for some essentials and hear from the experts at the The Baby Show at Earl’s Court from 25 October.

For Families

Parents and their children will want to stop by iconic toy store Hamley’s, and should spend a day at the ZSL London Zoo, which  will open Tiger Territory next summer. London is also home to the first purpose built professional theatre for children, The Unicorn Theatre, which entertains over 100,000 children every year. In 2013, some of the top shows will include The Present, an interactive show for 4-6 year-olds.

The EDF Energy London Eye and the SeaLife London Aquarium are great for pushchairs with plenty to keep children and adults of all ages engaged. The V&A Museum of Childhood is a treasure trove of children’s toys through the ages, and the museum also offers workshops every week. The majority of London’s museums are baby-friendly, and of course, many are free. (Bonus: Children under five years old also travel free on London transport, including the Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), buses, trams and London Overground as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket.)

For New Parents

The Duke and Duchess can meet new parents to be and enjoy the latest film releases with their babies, just a short walk from Kensington Palace at the ‘Big Scream’ – at the Gate cinema in Notting Hill and other Picture House Cinema’s for parents and babies under one year old.

The new parents will have the choice of London’s top retailers, including Oh Baby London, an independent boutique for baby clothes situated on Brick Lane and Carry Me Home, an adorable store for unique baby clothes in Kingly Court.  

A night away from the Palace could give the royal couple a relaxed night at The Dorchester who provide everything for the visiting family including baby bath robes and kids glamping experiences complete with bespoke tents and Beatrix Potter patterned fabric by Jane Churchill for Colefax & Fowler.

And courtesy of VisitBritain, here are some Q&As about finding the perfect gift for a baby in the UK:

Any suggestions for a classically British baby gift?

The royal baby may see its face on a coin sometime in the future but it’s not just the offspring of kings and queens that have the honor of a special coin in their name. Commemorate a baby’s birth with a gift from The Royal Mint; the prestigious UK coin manufacturer offers a special baby and christening selection. Bring baby lifelong luck with a Lucky Silver Sixpence or go for gold with the UK Britannia Gold Proof Ten-Ounce coin or the Sovereign Baby Gift.  

The royal baby’s grandfather, HRH Prince Charles, may well buy his first grandchild a blanket made of the softest Welsh wool – as Patron of the Campaign for Wool he recently visited the National Wool Museum in Drefach Felindre, Carmarthenshire, west Wales to highlight the campaign and the wool trade. This is an area well-known for its commercialization of wool and many small businesses use local wool to create lusciously soft baby blankets.

You might see the Duchess of Cambridge taking her baby out for a walk in a Silver Cross stroller – all of the Queen’s children were wheeled around in the legendary brand and the strollers’ contemporary designs are popular across the world. The Silver Cross stroller was invented by William Wilson from Leeds, Yorkshire, in 1877, and they are still being manufactured in Yorkshire in the North of England today.

What if I’m searching for a gift that’s quirky with a contemporary twist – I’d like it to stand out from the crowd?

Fun clothes are a good place to start; if the baby’s parents support a British soccer team why not purchase a soccer uniform for baby? If you’re off to watch one of the big Premier League soccer teams play – Manchester United,  Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal – tie in a trip to their stores where a whole range of logoed baby paraphernalia can be found from clothes to teddy bears, rattles to mini soccer balls.

For memories of a trip to London give baby a London Underground-themed sleep suit from the VisitBritain shop.

I think I’d like to give something a little more traditional.

Every baby needs a teddy bear and the definitive toy emporium Hamleys, on London’s Regent Street, is a one-stop-shop of delightful gifts for baby and children of all ages. The world’s largest toy shop stocks classic British brands such as The Great British Teddy Bear Company, which creates teddy bears dressed in iconic British costumes.

Toys of much-loved childhood characters also make classic gifts. Fans of Winnie-the-Pooh, created by British author A A Milne, can visit the Pooh Corner Shop– in Hartfield, East Sussex, just over an hour from London.  It sells a huge selection of Pooh-related gifts, as well as running Piglet’s Tea Room, and is a one-stop-shop of information on real Pooh country.

Elsewhere, a Paddington Bear gift – the marmalade-loving bear from Darkest Peru, created by Michael Bond – can be found just about anywhere – and is often popping up at exhibitions throughout Britain. Paddington Bear’s been touring bookshops, railway stations, even Harrods, and next year sees him continue the V&A Museum of Childhood’s touring exhibition: Teddy Bear Story, (visiting the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, in Sunderland, North East England), before he stars in the animated movie of his life, Paddington Bear, due out from 2014 onwards.

 

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