The Absolute Best Smithsonian Museums For Babies!

The Best Smithsonian Museums For Babies!

Yes! You should take your baby to Smithsonian Museums. These are our top picks for the best Smithsonian Museums for babies!

Guest Post By Jennifer Liao,

When you think of a baby play area, you probably don’t picture the world-renowned Smithsonian Museums, right?! Surprisingly, I have found these museums to be a wonderful place for both babies and toddlers after years of visiting. In fact, one of the first places we took my now 6-year-old daughter as a newborn was to a museum because she was a winter baby and I needed to get out of the house! 

I guess everyone in our family caught the museum bug as we have now completed a bucket list challenge and visited all the DC Smithsonians. Below, I’ll share more below about why museums are great for this age and which museums are best for this age.  I also have a lot more in depth info on my website, Family Trip Guides including the best times to go to each museum to avoid the crowds, parking tips and food options in/outside the museums.

best Smithsonian museums for babies

Why take your baby to a museum?

Because it’s fun for you and your kiddo! Many of the Smithsonian museums do a wonderful job of engaging even their youngest visitors in ways that are new and exciting. The museums are also great free places to explore as a parent and take advantage of maternity/paternity leave or a leisurely weekend.

A baby’s brain is growing everyday and experiencing new things will only help! Where else can you play with a child size replica of Julia Child’s Kitchen (American History Museum) or crawl around a stagecoach (Postal Museum)?

When Can You Visit? 

All Smithsonians are open everyday except December 25 and are usually open from 10 AM – 5:30 PM. Check online for latest info.

What are the best Smithsonian Museums for Babies?

I met a nice mom earlier this month who said she didn’t know she could take her 9-month-old to the museum. I don’t blame her at all as the image of many of these institutions are of old stuffy places where were kids would be ‘sushed’ and not allowed to crawl around.

While there are definitely areas where you wouldn’t want your child to crawl around, many of the Smithsonians have wonderful kids areas for babies and toddlers. And all Smithsonians are free and stroller friendly for an afternoon stroll. 

The most important part of planning a visit for this age is to pick the right museum. Not all museums have kid areas so below are my top 3 favs: 

American History Museum:

This museum has a lot of everything from American History to Innovation to First Ladies Dresses. The reason why this museum tops the list for babies is the Wegman’s Wonderplace located on the Main level. It is a separate area for ages 0 – 6 that has volunteers at the door so that no child can leave without their parent. (Also, stroller parking ftw!)

There is a great kids bathroom located inside and a nursing corner with even a boppy pillow! Kids can climb inside a slide structure and there is art at their eye level as well as building materials and the aforementioned Julia Child’s Kitchen! This is a wonderful area to go to first as it can fill up later in the day. 

best Smithsonian museums for babies

The Wegmans Wonderplace is open every day except Tuesdays. I have a free 7 page Family trip Guide to the American History Museum signup on my website if you are interested in more details!

National Postal Museum:

My love for this museum is endless! It is such a surprise and so easy to visit as it is off the National Mall and located right next to Union Station (i.e. plenty of parking in the garage and food and shopping options afterwards!) This museum has so much more than stamps with a train, truck and stage coach to explore and a beautiful atrium with natural light. 

best Smithsonian museums for babies

** The Postal Museum has great toddler story times on Mondays at 10:30 AM and again at 11 AM that don’t require registration. The Museum is open every day 10am – 6 PM.

If you have older kids with you, check out the Postal Museum Trip Guide!

National Portrait Gallery:

This is another ‘off the National Mall’ museum that is wonderful for babies and parents. They have an incredible amount of historic and contemporary art from throughout our country’s history + a wonderful kids area on the main level.

There are many entrances to the museum located in the Chinatown neighborhood but the stroller/accessible access is on G street. The Explore! Family Space is perfect for babies and toddlers to explore and learn about art. After the family space, check out the stunning Kogod Courtyard for a splash in the fountain (be careful, its very slippery!) and a coffee or snack at the cafeteria. 

best Smithsonian museums for babies

** There is also an art themed story time Tuesdays through Fridays from 2:00 – 2:30 PM for all ages with no reservation required. 

I hope this encourages you to explore the museums with your sweet little one and let us know in the comments which is your favorite museum with this age! 

And don’t forget to check out all the Smithsonian Trip Guides for Kids!

More about Jennifer!

Jennifer is a mom of two curious kiddos who unabashedly loves exploring museums and traveling with kids. A global nomad as a child, (14 moves in 4 countries) she finally found her home base in Fairfax County. She created to help other families have great visits with their kids to the Smithsonians in DC. She also loves cooking with her husband and long bike rides. 

Here are more ideas for DC family fun!


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