Trials and triumphs of raising a baby in Chicago

I’m a “big city” kind of gal: I’ve lived in NYC and in Dallas. And while the first reigns superior for celebrity sightings, chic shopping and serious, no-fuss, no-muss attitude, the latter is loved for the abundance of southern charm, warm and welcoming temperatures and unbeatable barbecue.

Neither compares to Chicago, a city made famous for housing one of the world’s largest and first Ferris wheels, a marvelous museum scene, the greatest lakefront allure and of course, deep-dish pizza. But what you may not know -or realize just yet -is that living in this Midwestern city is like dwelling on a kiddie-proofed playground, 24-7. Parks galore, music and movement classes to boot and sweet, adorable boutiques icing every urban outlet all make raising a baby in Chicago easy, efficient, and of course, fun.

Here, other Chicago parents reveal the bright side-and less-than-glamorous moments too-of baby-rearing in the Windy City, stroller and diaper bag in tow (at all times).

A pain to park

“Our Lakeview apartment was walking distance to the lakefront, which was a fabulous feature. What wasn’t so grand? The rent-included parking spot was actually too small for our mid-size car. It was impossible to open the back door wide enough to get my son’s infant car seat out of the car, and unpacking groceries was a nightmare, too.”

-Sasha Diskin, mom to Jordie

All in a day’s play

“Living in Lincoln Park, we have the luxury of so many worldly, amazing city attractions at our fingertips. One morning, we plopped the babes in the stroller and started at the zoo at 9. We then hit up the (Notebaert) Nature Museum by 10:30, stopped by the landmark and local favorite RJ Grunts for lunch at noon. And we still had time for a quick swim at the Eastbank Club downtown-all before naptime! That’s a tall order of incredible greatness, which is impossible to accomplish if you’re living in the ‘burbs, yet easy to handle if you’re city dwelling.”

-Ashley Netzky, mom to Brody and Landon

The Ladins: Dine with delight (not fright!)

“In the mood for Italian? The sky of family-friendly restaurants is the limit. Have a hankering for hot dogs? Again, your options are enormous. Regardless of the neighborhood you live in or time of the day, we always find great, yummy places to eat that are warm and open to our babies. Most have children’s menus or will make items to accommodate kids’ tastes, without any complaint.”

-Vanessa Ladin, mom to Bryce and Quinn

Free to be

“New moms often experience cabin fever: that feeling of being stuck inside all the time, simply to feed the baby, change diapers, do laundry and sleeptrain. But in Chicago, leaving the house is super appealing, thanks to so many affordable-make that free-outlets to enjoy. The Lincoln Park Zoo is always free, and even hosts song-hour on certain mornings; many museums have free kid days or special programs for little ones. And every local bookstore has a free, scheduled story time. It’s a great way for new moms to meet other new moms, too.”

-Ericka Thacker, mom to Braedyn and Judah

Queen of the Condo

“My daughter, Uma, thinks our entire Rogers Park condominium building is her house. The plus side is that she feels very connected to her dozen neighbors, who she knows by name and loves to greet. The downside is that we’ll never live in a house nearly that large, nor that full of fun people to chat with, so she’ll likely be bored.”

-Jodi Navta, mom to Uma

The Coslows: Windchill Challenge

“Everyone knows that Chicago is cold a lot of the year. So it goes without saying that walking-whether to the park or just to get the mail-is tough to bear, especially with a baby. As a result, there were plenty of times this past winter that my wife, Stefani, wouldn’t make it outside our front door. That’s rough on Mom, and in turn, the baby too.”

-Todd Coslow, dad to Peyton and Tyler

The Rosenbergs: Stair Master (or, rather, Stair Mama)

“While I’m spoiled by the 7-Eleven at one end of my block and the CVS 24-hour pharmacy at the other corner-which make for quick and simple diaper and milk runs when I’m in a bind-I don’t exactly adore living at the top of a third-floor walkup. Sure, I’ve become a first-class schlepper, not to mention that scaling 50-something stairs at least three times a day helped to take off the baby weight. But I can also admit to being envious of my suburban friends, who just pull up to their front door and grace right through it. No sweat, no stress.”

-Pam Rosenberg, mom to Samantha

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