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Discover Children's Story Centre, 2018
Photograph: Discover Children's Story Centre

101 things to do in London with kids: babies and toddlers

Discover the best activities and events in London for the under-threes

Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
,
Laura Lee Davies
,
Sarah Cohen
&
Paula Akpan
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Nowadays, even the tiniest tykes are able to start enjoying London culture as soon as they can open their eyes, as many of the capital’s parks, theatres and museums put on events and activities designed to delight under-threes.

Some are geared to grown-ups with babes in arms and others are tailored to appeal to active crawlers and the newly walking. Our list of London’s best activities for babies and toddlers reveals a whole new side of London that you’ll only discover once you have little 'uns in tow.

SEE THE FULL LIST101 things to do in London with kids.

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Activities for babies and toddlers

Not all children’s entertainment has to be corny and colourful, as Bach to Baby proves. Trained musicians perform child-friendly classical concerts in spaces all over London. Toddlers are free to get and up move about and babies are contented to sit on laps as the classical music floats around them. 

£15, free for children

Ages 0-4

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Trafalgar Square

CURRENTLY SUSPENDED BUT DUE TO RESTART SOON

Long before children can muse on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and remark how the impasto helps to express the texture of the seed heads, they can relate to centuries-old paintings that sing with colour and drama. That’s why the National Gallery’s ‘magic carpet’ storytelling sessions are brilliant. Every Sunday morning parents and sprouts are invited to sit in front of one of the paintings and hear stories inspired by what they see.

Free, book on arrival

Ages 2-5

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Splash about in the Science Museum’s water play area
  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • South Kensington

For small children, it’s the doing not the looking that amuses and inspires. As a result, this busy museum’s hands-on galleries win the day. The Garden is a free play zone where young ’uns can don aprons and play with waterways and boats, jump around exploring light and shadows and discover the science of sound through all kinds of fun activities.

Free, but booking required

Ages 3-6

This is a fabulous place to take children for some of the best puppet shows you’re likely to see. It offers a busy programme of productions throughout the year, and at weekends and during school holidays there are activities in the new Studios Space. Here the company runs workshops and courses for all ages and stages, looking at the craft of puppet theatre.

£13.50, £11.50 child, £1.50 under-ones

Ages two and above

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  • Museums
  • Military and maritime
  • Greenwich

CURRENTLY CLOSED BUT DUE TO REOPEN SOON

The NMM’s gallery especially for babies and young children is all about fun. Ahoy! features many different play zones including a beach and a ship deck, plus a game firing cannons and another that is a bit like air hockey. The fish shop is ace: rows of pretend fish, cash tills and shopping baskets. There’s also the All Hands exploration gallery for ages 6-12.

Free

Ages 0-7

Make stories come to life at Discover
  • Art
  • Arts centres
  • Stratford

London’s dedicated Children’s Story Centre is a colourful gallery inspired by children’s books, with special exhibitions and events linked to favourite authors and illustrators. Children can play inside and outside, exploring a secret cave, sliding down a magic tower and dressing up. There are places to hide in, treasure to seek out and the chance to fire young imaginations to create their own stories.

£7.50, £2 one-year-olds, free under-ones

All ages

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Throw some shapes with Big Fish Little Fish

This family-friendly disco crew references the rave culture of the early ’90s, but happily its events around London and at festivals are thoroughly wholesome affairs. Suitable for babies and children of all ages, Big Fish Little Fish daytime gigs give parents a chance to enjoy good music in a setting that the whole family can enjoy, complete with activities like synthesizer workshops and hula-hoop demonstrations. Check the website for upcoming dates.

Prices vary

All ages


Commandeer a wigwam at the Diana Memorial Playground
  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Kensington

Located next to Kensington Palace, this play area has a ‘Peter Pan’ theme and a fabulous wooden pirate ship as its centerpiece. Specially designed to suit children of all physical abilities, the playground includes a beach, sculptures, teepees for make-believe games and a sensory trail. It’s free to enjoy, but at busy times there might be a queue to get in.

Free

Under-13s

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  • Museums
  • Transport
  • Covent Garden

Covent Garden’s LTM is a joyful place and its All Aboard play area for babies and under-sevens takes the hands-on experience even further. Wannabe bus drivers can get behind the wheel of a real bus, repair a mini tube train, or sail on the Thames Nipper, a recreation of the Thames Clipper riverboat service. There’s even a make-believe busker’s spot.

Free with entry (£18.50, £17 concs, free under-18s, with unlimited re-entry for a year)

Ages 0-7

Not far from Crystal Palace Overground station is the famous park. Once upon a time this lush green space down south was a cultural haven for Victorians. Sports, music and art all took happened here, and when people weren’t attending one of those events, they were most likely marvelling a the full-scale model dinosaurs, which have been there since 1854. Thanks to a restoration project in 2002, the dinos are still going strong, even if a little out of date scientifically. Elsewhere in the park you’ll find a farm and a maze.

Free

All ages

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In August 2021, iconic southwest London kids’ theatre the Polka will finally emerge from its walloping £8.5m makeover. Its busy programme of theatre for babies, toddlers and children will resume in a vastly upgraded building that features an indoor playspace, a playground with a treehouse, a sensory room, a large café and more.

From free

All ages

Time was that King’s Cross and St Pancras were surrounded by soot-covered warehouses, all gradually falling out of use and being turned into adhoc nightclubs. Now, though, the vast piazza spaces look positively Continental, with Granary Square’s rows of pop-up fountains and Lewis Cubitt Park offering great, architecturally designed spaces to run around. Even in winter, it’s worth taking a towel – kids can’t resist running through the spouting water jets that rise up from the ground. And while you’re here, seek out Handyside Gardens, a pocket park nearby with a charming play area especially for children.

Free

All ages

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There’s many a natural wonder to be enjoyed at Kew, from the magnificent treetop walk with a bird’s-eye view over the park to the not-so-sweet, rare flowering titan arum plant (no seriously, hold your nose). But if you have younger visitors in tow, head to the huge Children’s Garden. The size of 40 tennis courts, it’s packed with hidden play areas themed around earth, air, sun and water – all the things plants need to grow. 

Free with Kew entrance ticket £17.50, £15.50 concs, £5 child, booking essential

Ages two to 12

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