Our very first Baby Lunch Date was a hoot! Thank you to the parents who joined us for cookies and catching up. To all who couldn’t make it this week, I’ll be back at Rosemont Wellness next Monday at 11 am to do it again.
Part of our wide-ranging conversation today was the topic of baby swimming lessons in southern Maine. I promised that I would do a little librarian-ing and put together a list of places nearby that offer water play for the littles. And so, here we are. Did I lose hours of my life looking at stock photos of babies in swimming pools? Possibly. Was it worth it to find snaps of baby Ed Sheeran’s first time in a swimming pool?* Definitely.
Maine does not lack for family-friendly beaches. Kettle Cove and Ferry Beach are each awesome in their own way, but if you’re looking to go a little farther afield to avoid the crowds, check these out:
1. Broad Cove Reserve, Cumberland: Tucked away off Route 88 in Cumberland Foreside, this sweet spot has only recently been opened to the public. And they’ve really got the family-friendly thing figured out!From Route 88, turn on Beach Drive, where you will see a small parking lot off to your right. Park there. Patrick will come by with the shuttle in a few minutes if he’s not waiting when you get there. He’ll transport you and your diaper bag/picnic basket/beach chairs/what have you to down the hill to the beach. There is a little cabin with a changing room and a portapotty that is trying really hard not to look like a portapotty.The beach is long and skinny, and the water is shallow, so you can walk way out before it gets deep. If you like this sort of thing, there are crabs and fish and creatures to watch in the water. If you don’t like this sort of thing, just pull your feet up and enjoy the buoyancy of saltwater…la la la…nothing to see here… If you need shade as much as I do, there is usually room in the shadow of the pier, especially as the tide goes out.Most important: check the tide charts before you go. At high tide, there is literally no beach to stand on! The ideal time to visit is 2-3 hours after high tide.
2. Mackworth Island, Falmouth: I know, there is nothing secret about Mackworth. The stroller-friendly walking trail and the comfy swings scattered along it have been a family destination since day one. The beach you can access from the parking lot is a bit mucky, better for strolling than swimming. [And that’s assuming, of course, that you can even get into the parking lot. Some days there is an attendant in the gatehouse keeping track of available spots, and some days you show up to a free-for-all with people parking in trees and such.]But many people don’t realize there is a rocky cove on the northeast side of the island. From the parking lot, head left back toward the gatehouse and take the trail by the bike rack. After you pass the fairy village and the trail hooks left at the entrance to the pet cemetery, watch for a set of stone steps to your left. They might be partially obscured by greenery.You can set up in the shade of the cliffs (depending on the time of day/season) or you can bask in the sun. The water gets deep fairly quickly so you don’t have to go too far out for a cooling dunk. You will likely meet a parade of dogs and people passing through, but there is plenty of room to hunker down for as long as you like until dusk, when the park closes.Bring cash or your pass: Mackworth is a state park!
3. Seawall Beach, Phippsburg: Josh Christie describes it best. This one is for folks who like a little bit of a hike to the beach. If you and/or your baby are up for that, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, secluded beach and exquisite views.
It’s summer, and you’re on maternity leave. While no one could describe your life right now as a vacation — and if they do, dope slap them — you are well situated to make the most of a glorious Maine season.
The Mayo Clinic recommends a daily walk for moms easing back into physical activity during the postpartum recovery period. Your doctor or midwife will let you know when it’s a good idea to start moving around, especially if you are recovering from a c-section. Strolling your own street is a gentle way to begin. When you’re ready to go a little farther afield, greater Portland offers several baby-friendly walks.
Getting out of the house with baby
When you feel ready to venture beyond your block, your partner or postpartum doula can pack a bag that you can leave in the car all the time so you won’t have to remember it for each trip. You’ll need:
Diapers, wipes, and changing pad/towel
Extra bags for dirty diapers
Extra clothes for baby
Hats and sunscreen for both of you
A muslin or other light blanket
Snacks for you (nuts, fruit leathers, granola bars, etc)
Extra cash, just in case
When visitors stop by and ask how they can help, tell them to make sure your car bag is fully stocked! Having this resource at the ready, and leaving the stroller in the back of the car as well, will make leaving the house slightly less complicated.
5 baby-friendly walks in greater Portland
Once your car bag is all set, you can go on a baby outing whenever it works for you and your overlord baby. Here are 5 good places to walk with your baby:
Wednesdays in Monument Square, Portland: Meander through the Portland Farmer’s Market any time between 7am and 1pm and sample a bounty of local produce and products. If you’re out mid-morning, the main branch of the Portland Public Library offers Rhythm & Rhymes Story Times at 10:30, plus clean public restrooms with changing tables, comfortable places to sit and nurse, and glorious air conditioning. The Public Market House has an elevator for strollers when you’re ready to head upstairs for a smoothie from Maine Squeeze.
Royal River Park, Yarmouth: This mile-long walk is scenic and paved, with easy parking and restrooms. The sound of the falls is soothing, and if you feel like extending your walk, you can stroll into the village, Maine’s version of Stars Hollow.
Mackworth Island, Falmouth: The stroller-friendly path around this shady island is a little over a mile long. Benches and swings along the way provide comfortable spots to stop for snacks while looking out at spectacular Casco Bay views. On unbearably hot days, the sea breeze and the chance to wade in the water will cool you both down. There are rustic restrooms for mom emergencies. It’s a popular spot for parents, dog walkers, and runners, so the parking lot is often full, but since the park started charging admission ($3 for adults, $1 for kids 5-11, beginning summer 2016), it’s been a little easier to secure a spot.
Robinson Woods and Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth: Cape Elizabeth Land Trust offers several lovely trails, including Robinson Woods, a shady three mile hike accessible from Shore Road. And just down the road, perennial tourist favorite Fort Williams offers a short but moderately hilly cliffside trail with gorgeous views of the waves around Portland Head Light. Buy yourself something delicious at Bite Into Maine and have an oceanside picnic!