Adventure, baby!

New York

Ample Hills Creamery: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY

Summer to me means one thing—the unrelenting search for the city’s best ice cream. My current fave is Ample Hills, which I discovered when they opened up a concession stand at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via

The concession stand in the park usually has about eight flavors, but I was curious as to what frozen delights I would find at the actual Ample Hills Creamery cafe in Prospect Heights. We made the pilgrimage to Ample Hills Creamery one hot summer’s day to check out the full shebang. The name for the creamery came from a Walt Whitman poem, who liked to wax lyrical about what an awesome place Brooklyn was back in the 1800s (he was an early adopter). The poem goes: “I too lived. Brooklyn of ample hills was mine…” And thus, Ample Hills Creamery was born, using only the freshest local and hormone-free ingredients. The dairy and eggs come from farms in upstate New York.

The first Ample Hills ice cream was sold out of a cart to concert-goers in Prospect Park. It didn’t take long for an ice cream cult to form and grow to the point where a shop was needed to keep up with the demand.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via

The creamery itself has a lot of space inside—tables, chairs and a little play area for kids in the rear. It’s geared towards people buying a sundae and sitting down to chat, rather than ordering a cone and taking it to go (although you can do both, I’d recommend enjoying your ice cream while taking in the quirky ambiance inside).

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via

The Ample Hills flavours border on the wacky and wild sides, such as their Cotton Candy (which is slate blue), Salted Crack Caramel and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which has giant chunks of butter cake mixed into the ice cream.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via

Their speciality is the “Build a Sundae” ($7.60) — a warm, homemade brownie, topped with your choice of 24 kinds of ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Buy it to share between at least two people, it’s pretty big.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via

My Ample Hills staples are Sweet Cookies ‘n Cream, Sweet as Honey and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. A single serve is $2.75, a double $4.35. I usually get one cone to share with Cheese but lately she’s been eating the lion’s share so pretty soon she will likely need her own.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York, via
Ooey Gooey Butter Cake on top, Sweet as Honey underneath.

After eating our ice cream, we take Cheese to the back section of the creamery, to play in the kids area. It’s thoughtfully planned out with a play kitchen and shop front — selling ice cream, of course — and a bookshelf filled with kids books on ice cream. Cheese is in heaven. We’re stuffed with ice cream. Mission accomplished.

Ample Hills Creamery, kid-friendly places to eat, Prospect Heights, New York
Some fake ice cream after the real stuff.

Last bite: This ice cream shop serves seriously delicious, naturally and locally-made frozen treats. It’s the perfect respite from a steamy summer’s day — plan to sit in for a while, eat up, and let the kids play.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes. Kid-sized scoops of ice cream.

Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Ave,
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (347) 240 3926
Prices: $
Hours: Sun-Thurs 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am

Get directions.

Ample Hills Creamery on Urbanspoon

Coney Island Day Trip: Totonno’s Pizza + NY Aquarium

Totonno’s - kid-friendly restaurants, Coney Island - via
Huge pizza. No problem.

A day trip to Coney Island for most people is about sun, fun and hotdogs. For us however, it is all about pizza at Totonno’s, which is quite possibly the best pizza in New York. Big call, I know. But Totonno’s has plenty of press to back them up over the nine decades they’ve been open, as one of the best pies you’ll get in NYC.

Let’s back up a bit: After hearing about the Totonno’s reputation soon after we moved here from Sydney, we were determined to put their pizza to the test. So we decided to make a day trip of it, beginning with pizza and ending with a visit to the nearby NY Aquarium.

We were a bit wary after walking through a few Coney Island back streets, past auto-mechanics, to a nondescript storefront that opened to an old-school diner. Was this really home to one of New York’s best pizzas? We were dubious, but decided to stay and try it out anyway. Note to readers — our visit and these pics were taken before the hurricane, and before Totonno’s remodeling following the disaster. The pizza however, is exactly the same.

Totonno’s - kid-friendly restaurants, Coney Island
Waiting for food in the low-key dining area.

Totonno’s is not a fancy place. It’s more like your grandma’s 1970’s-style kitchen—no frills tables and chairs, old pictures on the walls, and the menu spelled out in tiles above the ordering window. The service was also similar to what you’d get at your grandparents’ house — friendly and casual, with a strong likelihood that one of the owners themselves would be serving you. (Totonno’s is owned by three siblings; Antoinette Balzano, Frank Balzano and Louise Ciminieri; whose grandparents opened the restaurant.) Totonno’s was closed for five months after Hurricane Sandy ripped through Coney Island, opening again on March 24 to the rapture of locals and tourists alike.

The pizza itself is MASSIVE. Absolutely huge. We ordered a large, plain cheese pizza ($19.50). Of course we ate every single last bite. With a pizza that good, it’s a crime to leave a sad little crust behind. And yes, it is as good as it’s reputed to be. The crispy dough, the perfect layering of delicious tomato sauce, and  the dollops of fresh mozzarella cheese: Heaven. Go to Coney Island, just for this pizza. If you want something not-pizza, go somewhere else, as this is the only thing they serve on the menu. Add extra toppings for $2.50 each.

When we visited, Cheese was too young to do anything except gnaw on a pizza crust, which she highly enjoyed anyway. They did have a highchair, but we opted to hold her in our laps.

Coney Island via
Coney Island beach.

After stuffing yourself with amazing pizza, walk on down to the Coney Island boardwalk to check out the beach and do some people watching.

New York Aquarium via
New York Aquarium, Coney Island

Then wander on down like we did, to the also recently re-opened NY Aquarium (at Surf Avenue & West 8th Street) and get up close and personal with some seriously cute sea life. The aquarium also suffered a beating during the hurricane and is still being rebuilt. Several of the animal exhibits have reopened, like the penguins, sea lions, otters and walruses.

Last bite: A family-owned pizzeria that loves families. Scarf down some of the best pizza in NYC, then check out the also recently re-opened New York Aquarium for the perfect day trip.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

1524 Neptune Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Phone: (718) 372 8606
Price: $$
Hours: Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm

Get directions.

Totonno's on Urbanspoon

The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton: Kid-friendly Restaurants, LES, NY

As a vegetarian, a good (non-meat) meatball is hard to find. Obviously. When I read that The Meatball Shop served vege meatballs as well as a wide range of vegetarian sides and options, I was there the next day. Or a few weeks later, when I got the chance – doesn’t sound as good though, does it?

Meatball Shop LES - Lower East Side
Only signage is on the top of the building.

The Lower East Side Meatball Shop is right near Alec’s office, so Cheese and I dropped by one Friday to take him to lunch. I walked right past it twice before realising it had no signage at ground level. Look up people, so you don’t look like the fool I did.

Meatball Shop LES - Lower East Side
Tick the boxes.

I adore any menu where I can pick and choose exactly what I want. I especially love when I can tick boxes so the server doesn’t get confused by my accent.

Meatball Shop LES - Lower East Side
Putting in the order.

We chose the naked balls (snigger) and two sides – mashed potato and steamed spinach.

Meatball Shop LES - Lower East Side
Street seating.

It’s worth noting here that we had an outdoor table as it was the best option with Cheese. The interior looked a bit small to squish in with a toddler and all of her gear. The helpful staff did store our stroller somewhere though – perhaps through some door that opened up into a magical portal of extra storage space.

Meatball Shop LES - Lower East Side
Vegetarian meatballs, side of mashed potatoes, steamed spinach and regular meatballs in the background.

The food arrived really quickly . It didn’t look like a huge amount, but afterwards I was so full I thought my stomach would explode.

Meatball Shop LES - Lower East Side
Cheese tucks into the mashed potatoes.

We gave Cheese some of the vegetarian meatballs and spinach, but all she was interested in was the mashed potato. What can I say, the girl loves carbs.

Last bite: The Meatball Shop is for carnivores and herbivores alike. Come hungry, pack light and be prepared to squeeze in and eat big.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Minimal.
Easy access: It’s a bit tight, but no stairs.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton
84 Stanton St
New York, NY
Phone: {212} 982 8895
Prices: $$
Hours: Sun-Thur 12pm-2am, Fri-Sat 12pm-4am

Brunch With My Baby Loves: Babiators + GIVEAWAY

Brunch With My Baby Loves ... Aviators! GIVEAWAY at

In this new section on the site, the Brunch With My Baby editors will highlight items that makes their lives as parents just that little bit easier.

We’re kicking off our new BWMB Loves section with Babiators! I love these sunglasses for Cheese because they stay on her tiny face, she can’t destroy them, and Babiators have an amazing policy where they’ll replace the sunnies if they’re lost or broken.

Want your own pair of Babiators? Enter our giveaway to win your choice of Babiator sunglasses.

The competition opens 12am Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, and closes Tuesday 11:59pm, August 6, 2013.

Entry open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brunch With My Baby was not compensated for this post.

Baked: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Red Hook, New York

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via

Baked is a Red Hook bakery created by entrepreneurs, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, with their dream to “Open a great American bakery that is not a cupcake shop”. Baked was born in January 2005 in the neighborly neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn. It is now so well-known that people from all over Brooklyn and even Manhattan trek out to Red Hook (hey, there’s not much transport, it’s totally a trek!) just to try their treats.

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via

The cafe is cute and cosy—with a long line snaking around the register of fellow cake-lovers. The booth cross-benches are filled with people on laptops and friends catching up over snacks.

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via

With such a huge selection of treats, it’s difficult to know what to try. They’re well-known for their giant marshmallows, and, even though they didn’t want to be a cupcakery, their cupcakes are known to be pretty good too.

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via
Where the magic happens!

We sat in a booth at the back where we could park the stroller behind us. The kitchen is next to the tables, with an open glass window to check out the baking in progress. Older kids will enjoy seeing their favourite treats being made before their eyes. Cheese just wanted to smash the glass jars.

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via
Coca-cola bunt cake

I chose the intriguingly named “Coca-Cola Bunt Cake“. Disappointingly, it only had the slightest hint of Coca-Cola flavour in the icing—otherwise it was just another delicious chocolate cake.

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via
Focaccia with Spinach, Tomato and Cheese.

Alec tried the Focaccia with Spinach, Tomato and Cheese as he’s not a big cake-lover (I know, right? How are we even married?!). He said it was delicious and would order it again.

Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via
Trying the bunt cake.
Baked: kid-friendly cafes, Red Hook, New York - via
Disappointed she’s not getting cake. Chocolate and Banana Scone.

We ordered Cheese a Scone of the Day in chocolate and banana. It was a good scone, but sadly Cheese just wanted the cake, of course.

Last bite: Join the rest of New York and take a day trip to Red Hook for delicious baked goods from Baked. Allow time for wandering around the quaint houses and parks in the area—and perhaps get the ferry home!

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: Minimal.
Easy access: No. There are a few steps to get in.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

359 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 222 0345
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm Sat-Sun 8am-7pm

Get directions.

Baked on Urbanspoon

First Comes Love – a film review

First Comes Love Documentary film maker, Nina Davenport, found herself 41 and single, and desperate for a baby of her own. This film is the story of her unconventional journey to parenthood. The deep, biological longing for a child that Davenport feels is something that will resonate with women all over the world who, for reasons they can’t articulate, desperately want a baby. It’s through this emotional connection to her audience that Davenport is able to take viewers on a journey that’s equal parts funny, sad and all-together touching. I can’t recommend this movie enough. See it, see it, see it.

Brunch Survival Guide: Taking Your Kids To A Food Festival

Smorgasburg, DUMBO
Kid wants food.

While food festivals are ideal outings to take a baby, toddler or older kid to, they can also be chaotic and overwhelming.

Here are our tips on how to survive (and hopefully enjoy!) a food festival with kids:

  • Pack your bag in advance. Lots of face wipes, water or milk bottles, bibs. Snacks, or possibly even an entire meal for the kid, incase the food takes too long to buy. Don’t forget sunscreen and a picnic blanket if there is no seating area at the event.
  • Bring entertainment for the child—a ball or baby doll stroller for restless toddlers, or something new your baby hasn’t yet seen.
  • Scope out what food vendors will be there or decide in advance what kind of food you are in the mood for so that there is a meal game plan of sorts.Remember, babies and toddlers have a very brief window of time in which they will tolerate, well, anything. Especially when it comes to you enjoying a meal.
  • Arrive early. We can’t emphasise this enough. If you are unable to get this step right, be sure to mind the following ones, or you might as well head straight home, feeling hungry.
  • When you first get there, have one person take the baby and stake out somewhere to sit. Find tables and chairs, or put down a picnic blanket on the grass.
  • Have the other person forage/hunt for food.
  • Note! The Food Hunter may have the urge to take her time browsing ALL of the food stalls and enjoy her time away from the baby. Don’t give in. Time is of the essence.  If it’s a busy day, choose the shortest line. Lunch decision made.
Smorgasburg, DUMBO
Dramatic backdrop at Smorgasburg.

That’s it! You made it! Enjoy your food, lounge in the sun (or, if you’re like us, take turns chasing your toddler while your partner lies in the sun), and congratulate yourself on successfully taking your family to a food festival.

Looking for a food festival to try? Our fave is Smorgasburg DUMBO—with Jane’s Carousel and several playgrounds nearby, it’s the most kid-friendly food festival we know of.

What’s your favorite food festival to visit during the summer?

Brunch Special: Kopal Goonetileke, Co-Founder of PishPosh Mommy

Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Kopal Goonetileke, co-founder of PishPosh Mommy—creators of stylish products that help you organize your life with a baby. Kopal lives with her husband, Malcolm, and her three children, Hariel (age seven), Kanya (age five) and Kyelle, (age three and a half). The family currently lives in Westchester, after having moved from San Francisco five years ago.

Pishposh Mommy - via brunchwithmybaby,com
Kopal and her family.

How would you sum up PishPosh Mommy?
We design and develop products that provide functional organization for stylish moms.

How did PishPosh Mommy begin?
The PishPosh Mommy vision began in San Francisco in 2007 when I met my now business partner, Jenny Hong. We were two new moms who were equally frustrated by the lack of stylish solutions for carrying and organizing baby gear.  We loved our new lives as mothers, but we didn’t want to feel sentenced to years of lugging around bulky, unattractive diaper bags! We created the Carryall, an innovative bag organizer that transforms any bag into a diaper bag. We sourced fun, modern prints for our bags and named them after our favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Pishposh Mommy - via brunchwithmybaby,com
Kopal and the Carryall.

Tell us about your products—why do you consider them “must-haves” for moms?
Our signature product, the Carryall, allows your favorite handbag, tote or beach bag to function as a diaper bag. The Carryall also adds simple, stylish organization to any bag or stroller.  We have a variety of chic prints to suit the tastes of any mom.

The PishPosh Wet Bag is our multi-purpose solution for all things wet. And with kids, let’s face it, something always gets wet! The bag’s uses grow right along with your child, from infant cloth diapers to toddler training pants to big kid swimsuits. The front pocket holds dry items while the water-resistant, leak-free main pocket keeps wet things contained. Moms can even use it to store make-up or toiletries for travel or quick trips to the gym.

Other great accessories by PishPosh Mommy include the Diaper Clutch, PishPosh Pad and arriving this fall, the Changing Clutch, Nursing Cover and large size Wet Bag.

You have the perfect gear for taking kids out and about. When did you start taking your kids out to eat in restaurants?
We’ve been taking our kids to restaurants since within a few weeks of bringing them home from the hospital. It became a little more challenging once we had our third, but we believe it’s important for them to experience different cuisines and also to understand how to sit and wait, especially when sometimes they are the only kids at the meal and Malcolm and I are socializing with other adults.

What have you found are the easiest/hardest ages to eat out with your kids?
When we had only one child it was always pretty easy to eat out. Then when our daughter came along it became a little more challenging especially since she is a pickier eater. From the age of about six months until three there were a lot of really quick eat-and-run-type meals in restaurants. Now that our kids are all over the age of three, dining out has become enjoyable again and we strive to avoid electronic devices to entertain the children unless the dinners run more than an hour.

Any stories of an especially successful eating out experience with your kids?
Choosing a restaurant that is kid-friendly, or going at a time when the restaurant isn’t busy has always worked in our favor. Of course, a good server is always a bonus. We had one experience where our server actually took the kids back into the kitchen so that they could see their meal being prepared and it was fantastic! Not only were they excited to eat but they had so much to talk about during the entire meal.

Fave local restaurants/cafes to eat out with the kids?
Landmarc in the Time Warner building is a great place to take kids. We also love Mary’s Fish Camp but it’s small so better to go during off hours.

Fave spot to stop for treats?
We love 16 Handles Frozen Yogurt where the kids get to pull the handle and then add the toppings, so it’s like make your own sundae every time!

Do you have any eating out traditions with your family?
We love to eat out on Saturday mornings after soccer. Lunch time menus usually offer more kid-friendly choices, and there are less crowds, making it a stress-free way to start our weekend!

Fave spot to go for special family occasions or events—but where kids are still welcome?
Southern Hospitality has great brunch, and if you can get the back room for your event it’s perfect with kids so that they can run around while the adults relax.

Number one tip for other parents when eating out with kids?
Fill your Carryall or Diaper Clutch with coloring books, crayons, stickers and don’t forget the wipes! If your little one is still in diapers then don’t forget your PishPosh Diaper Clutch. It looks just like a regular clutch but fits diapers and wipes, and even comes with a changing pad so toting your little one—and his/her gear—into tiny NYC restaurant bathrooms becomes a little more manageable. And, finally you will definitely need your PishPosh Wet Bag in case there is a food or drink spill. The dry pocket will hold that extra change of clothes and you can safely hide away the soiled clothes in the wet pocket until you can get home to wash them. The Wet Bag has a snap wristlet so that you can attach it to your stroller or to another bag easily.

Check out the PishPosh Mommy range below. Order your favorites at the PishPosh Mommy online store and enter the code “BWMB25” for 25% off your purchase, valid until 7/31/2013.
[metaslider id=3254]

Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Chinatown, New York

Nom-wah dumplings
Be prepared for dumplings!

It’s a rare day that I’m out without my kid. Usually she’s my trusty (although not at all trust-worthy) sidekick, for better or for worse. On this particular day, however, I found myself heading out to try Nom Wah Tea Parlor with some friends, with the promise that I would be able to eat my dim sum heart out with Nom Wah’s extensive list of vegetarian options.

Nom-wah dumplings
So. Much. Food.

Nom Wah is a famous dim sum eatery in Chinatown, that has been operating in some shape or form on Doyers Street since 1920 (it originally opened as a bakery and tea parlor). People queue outside for a long time (how long, I don’t exactly know, as we got there when it opened to avoid that exact problem!) for a chance to squeeze into this retro tea parlor/dim sum emporium and eat, eat, eat the cheap and delicious dim sum.

Nom-wah dumplings
Rice roll with fried dough ($4).

Which leads me to why I was childless on this day. Toddlers (particularly mine) have a set napping schedule that cannot be messed with, or bad things happen. Plagues of locusts and such. Since Cheese is a morning napper, it means we can’t ever have brunch somewhere at opening hour (10:30 am). With Nom Wah, getting there at opening hour is the best choice unless you want to join the giant queue, so that’s how I turned up to review a restaurant for kid-friendliness, minus the actual kid.

Nom-wah dumplings
Tofu Skin Roll served with gluten-free soy sauce ($4).

Also in our party was a friend who is gluten-intolerant. Nom Wah is great for people with all kinds of dietary requirements because so much of the menu is made with rice instead of wheat flour, so my friend was in absolute food heaven with so many gluten-free food choices. Plus, the menu even indicates those items that are gluten-free.

Nom-wah dumplings
Steamed vegetable buns.

While I ate at Nom Wah minus my toddler, the restaurant was packed with small kids, ranging from small babies and up. Children are very welcome no matter their age, so long as they’re happy to be squished into a small booth or sitting on an adult’s lap at the table. No room for strollers, so bring a carrier if possible. The service is fast if you can get their attention, and the food arrives swiftly, piping hot and flavourful. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids about dumplings in an environment where kids are welcome.

Last bite: Arrive when Nom Wah opens to be seated straight away, or be prepared to join a long queue. An authentic, affordable, and casual place to order lots of  fun dishes so kids can experiment with all the flavours and textures. Chopsticks optional!

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Chinatown
13 Doyers St.
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 962 6047
Prices $
Hours: Sun-Thur 10:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 10:30am-10pm

Wanda’s Monster: From Fiend To Friend

Today was a landmark day for us – we took Cheese to her first musical, at age 22 months. The show was Wanda’s Monster, a really cute off-Broadway show, perfect for kids aged two to 10. We weren’t sure if it was a good idea to take Cheese seeing as she’s such a wiggle monster that we can’t even take her to a 30 minute music class anymore, but I really wanted to see how she enjoyed watching a real show.

Wanda’s Monster, in its essence, is about a girl called Wanda who discovers a monster living in her closet. At first she is scared of the monster, then, after receiving some advice from her super-hip grandmother, pushes through her fear to get to know him, gaining a new friend in the process. While the story is very simple (hey, it’s a kids’ musical after all!), the underlying messages of tolerance and acceptance are important lessons for us to learn (and be reminded of) at any age.

We sat in the back row in anticipation of needing to bolt after 10 minutes or less, and were stunned that we made it through the entire show, without a single wiggle. Cheese loved Wanda and the monster – asking for Wanda every time she left the stage, and pointing to the monster and saying with conviction “Mon! Mon!” (she hasn’t quite mastered multi-syllable words yet).

Wanda's Monster

Wanda's Monster

Wanda's Monster

Wanda's Monster

After the show we met the cast. Cheese was too shy to pat the monster or high-five Wanda. As we left she stopped to wave to the cast, yelling “Bye bye Mon!”. A new musical (and monster) fan is born.

wandas monster

Wanda’s Monster is playing July 13 – September 8, 2013, at Vineyard’s Dimson Theatre, Union Square. At 50 minutes (no interval) it’s the perfect length to try for your kid’s first show, or to take older kids who enjoy monsters. A few of the older toddlers were scared of the monster (Cheese knowingly said “Baby” when one such toddler wailed and needed to be removed from the theater), but by the end all the kids were dancing in their seats and shouting out “Rooaaarrrrrrr!”.

Buy tickets here. Use the code MBSAVE to score a 25% discount on full-pried tickets.

I was not compensated for this blog post. While I was invited to attend a special bloggers’ preview of the show, all opinions are my own. The show rocked. Take your kids, you’ll all have a blast.