Oh baby! Ideal days out for babies and toddlers
We’re spoiled for choice for toddler and baby-friendly days out in the UK. Here’s my pick of the best.
If like me you have little ones who are crazy about trains, I recommend Thomas Land. We visited recently to check out the £2.5 million expansion. New attractions include Sodor Airport and the three brand new rides – Captain’s Sea Adventure, Flynn’s Fire & Rescue and Toby’s Tram Express.
Rides which cater particularly well for toddlers are the Thomas and Percy short train ride, Winston’s Whistle Stop Tours, which takes riders on a journey overlooking Thomas Land from above, Harold’s Helicopter Tour and the Blue Mountain Engine ride. My boys loved meeting their favourite engines and the Fat Controller. For an extra special treat check out the Thomas and Friends-themed hotel rooms and meet-and-greet Character Breakfasts.
We recently celebrated my youngest son’s second birthday with two fun-filled days at CBeebies Land. The attraction has been designed with youngsters aged 1 - 6 firmly in mind. My birthday boy loved meeting his favourite TV characters including Upsy Daisy, Igglepiggle and Postman Pat. He also particularly enjoyed following Mr Tumbles’s spotty bag trail around the sensory trail, the In the Night Garden boat ride (he was waving frantically to Tombliboos!) and the Postman Pat delivery van.
What is great about CBeebies Land is that there are only two rides that have height restrictions (the Octonauts Rollercoaster and Justins House). All of the other rides can be enjoyed by all little fans. In addition to the rides, there is a full daily schedule of entertainment in the Big Fun Showtime area. We clapped along to the Zing Zillas and Tree Fu Tom, practiced our circus skills and made the most of all of the facilities in the Showtime area, including picnic tables, baby changing and food stall.
Make the most of the free opportunities to take photos of your children with their favourite CBeebies characters. I also recommend staying overnight. There is too much to see in one day. This will also allow you to take advantage of the exclusive hour at the beginning of the day, which is open just for hotel guests.
Ranked as the number one amusement park in the UK this attraction offers seven fun rides for all little fans including Peppa's Big Balloon Ride, Miss Rabbit's Helicopter Flight and George's Dinosaur Adventure Ride.
In addition to enjoying the rides, toddlers will have fun rocketing to the moon in George's Spaceship and visiting the toddler picnic area and treehouse designed for little ones (aged 2-3). Babies will have lots of fun in the musical instrument area with Peppa's musical shapes game, magic music machine and Mr Dinosaur's soft foam rocker. Again, I suggest staying overnight as it’s practically impossible to cover the park in one day - especially factoring nap times and tantrums.
Animal attractions, Colchester and Wiltshire
Encourage a love of animals by taking your little monkey to a zoo or safari park. Colchester Zoo is an unforgettable day out for little ones. Toddlers will enjoy feeding the elephants and giraffes, walking through a 24m tunnel to watch sea lions underwater and strolling through the Kingdom of Wild to see Komodo Dragons and rhinos.
If you would prefer to see animals in a more natural environment a family trip to Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Warminster a great idea. It’s home to over 100 species which are able to roam freely across hundreds of acres of land.
Fabulous farm parks, Cheltenham & Reading
Farm parks are a great place to introduce babies and toddlers to some of the big farm machinery they love to read about and to come face-to-face with real animals. I can personally recommend Cotswold Farm Park and Buckleberry Farm Park in Reading. Both provide lots of opportunities to get up-close with farm animals from lamb bottle-feeding sessions to rabbit and guinea pig petting opportunities.
Rainy days out, Halifax
Rain needn’t mean being stuck at home. Soft play areas, interactive kids museums and paint-your-own pottery places are great options.
My favourite rainy day attraction is Eureka Children's Museum, the national children’s museum in Halifax. It has 400 interactive, hands-on exhibits designed to inspire children to find out about themselves and the world around them. My boys particularly enjoy the ‘Living and Working Together’ gallery. This is a small world set-up where kids can role-play shopping at a small Marks & Spencers, work in a post office and check out a model house.
Babies and toddlers are also catered for in the Sound Garden, which is a magical garden designed for under 5s with opportunities to dress up as an animal or insect, create a butterfly using a touchscreen and play in the soft play area.
I hope these fab ideas have inspired you to plan amazing days out with your little ones - never too young to be little adventurers!