Early mornings with Bee are my favorites – they’re quiet and calm and sweet, seasoned with avocado toast and mixing bowl towers. We happily roam around the house, pointing at our favorite things and learning new words and unpacking every cabinet until, eventually, she wears herself out and nap-time beckons. But on some days, of course, it’s not such an enjoyable experience. Bee’s stir-crazy and I’m stir-crazy and we run out of things to entertain ourselves with in a short twenty minutes. So on those days? Off to the farmer’s market we go.
The farmer’s market has all the ingredients for a great time with baby: people-watching, fresh food, live music. There’s no need to pack a lunch, because we eat our way through each stand, sizing up ripened peaches with fresh mint and mozzarella for an impromptu summer salad to enjoy at a nearby bench. It’s absolute heaven, and although I do love our easy-peasy mornings at home, our farmer’s market adventures are a treat that’s well worth the extra effort.
Speaking of effort, here are a few tips and tricks we’ve picked up to make our farmer’s market experience all the more memorable (and fuss-free, for the most part!):
1. Time it right.
A great farmer’s market experience has a lot to do with timing – if you get there too early, you might be dealing with elbows and crowds. Too late and your favorite veggie might be sold out. The sweet spot for my local farmer’s market is 11AM, just before lunch, which happens to be right after Bee’s morning nap. It’s a win/win!
Bottom Line: Consider chatting with a few recurring vendors to find out when the slowest time of day is for them, and plan your trip with baby accordingly.
2. Consider your mode of transportation.
If your farmer’s market is crowded and busy, a stroller can be tricky to navigate. Consider toting baby around in a carrier or sling to avoid Frogger-style crossing and weaving through vendors, stands and patrons. Keep in mind, of course, your comfort level, too. Farmer’s markets can get hot in the afternoon sun, so a heavy carrier and sweaty baby might not make for a comfortable experience. (Stroller bonus? The inevitable stroller nap! A nice plus for sure.)
Bottom Line: Weigh the pros and cons of stroller vs. carrier when taking your baby to the farmer’s market. I’d recommend packing both for your first trip and seeing which you actually use!
3. Take advantage of the scenery.
Farmer’s markets often offer live music and other fun activities, so consider making a day out of the trip! Shop away for the morning, then enjoy a fresh lunch with your farmer’s market goods and find a shady spot to enjoy the tunes or people-watch. Summer is fleeting, so it’s important to soak up these magical moments when you can!
Bottom Line: Farmer’s markets have built-in entertainment for babies – why not offer to pack up baby for a solo date and let your spouse/partner sleep in for the weekend? It’s the perfect way to transform an errand into an event while scoring some brownie points with your significant other! (Bonus: He/she will be so rested, they can cook dinner with the amazing goods you bring home!)
4. Pack accordingly.
Farmer’s markets present a unique set of requirements in the packing department, so be sure you come prepared. Sunscreen, cash, grocery totes and even antibacterial hand wash should all be at the ready when bringing baby to the market. Keep in mind: restrooms aren’t always available, so although you should keep everyone in your family hydrated, it’s probably best not to overdo it.
Bottom Line: Pack for the farmer’s market as you would pack for an afternoon outdoor concert – lightweight and all-terrain!
5. Lower your expectations.
One of the most important tips to enjoying a farmer’s market with your baby is to lower your expectations. You might not have the opportunity to linger at each stand as long as you’d like, or even run into friends and catch up over lunch. By framing the day as an outing with your baby (rather than an errand or social event), you’re much more likely to roll with the unexpected detours that can sometimes accompany the day.
Bottom Line: Like most parenting tricks, managing expectations is key for visiting the farmer’s market with a baby. There might be tantrums, tears or snafus, but don’t worry – those will be gone in an instant. The memory of enjoying summery afternoons with your little one, however, will last forever!