A recent reader question from Laura B has reminded me of how hard it is to find age-appropriate places in Melbourne to take toddlers and babies. She asks “We’re spending a long weekend in Melbourne this weekend coming with our ten-month-old twins. Any suggestions on things we can do with them – they will be in their pram but very curious about the world around them and love a good crawl around?”
So Laura, here’s your one-stop-shop for my Top 31 places to go and things to do with toddlers, crawlers and babies in Melbourne!
Things to do with toddlers and babies in Melbourne CBD
Free play space with books, craft, dress ups and games that’s based on a theme that changes every season. It’s a great place to chill out from the hubbub of the city.
Artplay is a City of Melbourne funded children’s art studio and they run free and paid workshops and events for children 0-12 years. Lady AB’s first trip to Artplay was at 7 months old. One of my favourite Artplay activities for under 5s is their free drop in program of free indoor creative play called Artplay Inside Out and their outdoor version called Artplay Backyard.
Next to Artplay is the Artplay playground. It is generally more suited to older kids (and can be overrun by school kids on excursions) but babies will enjoy the sandpit and Mali the elephant.
Babies are fascinated by fish and at Melbourne Aquarium you can get up close to sea life big and small. Under 3s get free entry! If you’re a regular visitor then a membership (perhaps a combined membership with Legoland) might be worthwhile.
Click here for the best membership for Melbourne families.
Entry is free for NGV’s two branches at Federation Square and St Kilda Road. Both galleries generally have at least one or two family-friendly exhibitions – the current one is New York New York for Kids. There are also monthly art classes for 2-4 year olds called NGV Under 4s.
The Gallery Kitchen and Sculpture Park at NGV International are also great family-friendly hangouts. We’ll often grab a picnic and eat on the lawn if we’re in the CBD, even if we don’t visit the rest of the gallery.
It’s never too early to introduce kids to books. Library at the Dock’s children’s library has gorgeous curved shelving and seating, interactive tabletops and screens, a digital carpet and some babies’ toys like wire bead threading sculptures. Outside the library is a soft fall playground with water play.
Things to do with babies and toddlers in Melbourne’s NORTH
Experience a bit of the country in the city and watch the cows being milked, pat the goats and chase chickens. Lady AB’s first visit to Collingwood Children’s Farm while she was still crawling – so don’t dress your baby in his/her best clothes as they’ll be on their knees in dirt, grass and barnyard floors!
If you go when the Farmer’s Market is on (second Saturday of the month 8am – 1pm) entry is only $2 for adults, kids are free, and you can stay all day. They often have the Mexican Music Man playing too!
The Farm Cafe is an excellent family-friendly cafe on site with pram access, high chairs and kids menu.
Discover Melbourne Zoo Indoor Play area ‘Keeper Kids’. There are different zones related to zookeeping, construction, veterinary science, horticulture and animal research. Crawlers will love the soft toys and getting up close to the animal enclosure. My kids visit Keeper Kids more than the animals!
Similar in feel to Collingwood Children’s Farm, Bundoora Park Farm is located in the northside’s largest green space. You can see and pat farm animals, visit the historic Cooper’s Settlement, ride a tractor and crawl about in the adventure playground inside the farm as well as the fully fenced all ages playground adjacent to the cafe (which doesn’t require an entry fee). Every first Saturday there’s a Farmers Market at Bundoora Park.
The children’s gallery at Melbourne Museum has so many experiences, both inside and out. In other parts of the museum you can crawl along the dinosaur walk, see the huge bank of stuffed animals or just stare at the tiny insects and plants.
Spectacular nature play playground with a water play area that particularly suits little ones.
Things to do with babies and toddlers in Melbourne’s SOUTH / SOUTH-EAST / BAYSIDE
Indoor play centre that caters particularly well for babies thanks to a separate soft fall area, extensive imaginative play and a reading area with age-appropriate toys.
Click here for more of Melbourne’s best indoor play centres.
Huge playground with different zones for different abilities, including a separate toddler area. I particularly love the wooden sculptures and nature play elements.
Stunning Australian Garden, which showcases the diversity of Australian flora, plus free water play.
A nautical-themed playground in a huge sandpit, right next to the long expanse of sand at calm and safe Carrum Beach. It’s sandpit squared!
Click here for more of Melbourne’s best beaches for kids.
VJunior at Village Cinemas Westfield Southland is a cinema designed by and for kids, with a play zone before the film, a slide, dim lighting, quieter sound and a more relaxed atmosphere.
An indoor play centre for the ultimate LEGO fan! While it is mostly geared towards kids 3+ years there are some spaces which are suitable for toddlers such as the Duplo Farm area. They’ve started running Little Playtimes on select Tuesdays at 2pm for 2-5 year olds.
Things to do with babies and toddlers in Melbourne’s EAST
The museum has one of the largest collections of fire-fighting memorabilia in Australia. Little kids will love pressing the fire alarms and jumping on the back of a fire engine. On Fridays the Eastern Hill Fire Station next door presents free fire safety demonstrations.
19. Heide Art Babies and Heide Mini Artists
Every month Heide Museum of Modern Art. holds two art sessions for kids – Heide Art Babies for 0-18 months and Heide Mini Artists for 2-5 year olds. The former is a 30 minute sensory session based around the current exhibition and the latter has a slightly longer format, morning tea and a tour of the current exhibition.
20. Hays Paddock Kew
A huge sprawling fully fenced playground with a good assortment of equipment for little ones such as numerous swings with safety belts, a large shaded sandpit, springers, seesaws and coloured panels to look through.
Another fully fenced playground with nature play and water play opportunities. There’s also a big sandpit, musical bridge and spinners.
Ride miniature steam and diesel engines around Elgar Park and play at the train-themed playground next to the track.
23. Playdays, Doncaster
Playdays is an indoor play centre built just for under 5s! It’s huge and clean with great sightlines to all the equipment.
Things to do with babies and toddlers in Melbourne’s WEST
Head straight to Ground Up, a STEM learning and play area for younger kids. It’s full of fantastic hands-on fun and suitable for crawlers.
An indoor play space with three play areas for imaginative play – an African village, the savannah and a field hospital. The Village Kids playground is next door but the climbing and ropes means it’s not as suitable for crawlers.
Werribee Zoo also has water play and sandpit at Hippo Beach which is great for summer.
A pirate ship playground set amongst a huge sandpit. The ramps means that you can wheel a pram right inside the boat and then let kids out to crawl around the deck.
Funtopia is a clean, spacious and huge indoor play centre with a dedicated fenced and padded are for under 2s. Under 4s can also go on the climbing walls at specific times during the week.
Footscray Community Arts Centre is Australia’s longest running community arts centre and during school term it runs drop-in babies and toddler classes from art to music, circus to dance. Next door is the popular Happy River Cafe with its collection of toys laid out on the lawn.
Craftercise offer drop in or term classes combining physical play, music, art, craft and messy play!
Craftercise, 52A Hawker Street, Airport West
Baby Sensory classes are regular classes for babies under 18 months based on scientific and educational research with activities promoting visual, social and physical development. Classes currently run in Richmond, Port Melbourne, Brunswick, Blackburn, Mount Waverley, Kensington and Thornbury.
31. Intergenerational Music Playgroups
Carousel Music Therapy and Hey Dee Ho both hold free Intergenerational Musical Playgroups within various aged care facilities, inviting families with young children to attend to join in singing, dancing and playing percussion instruments with the elderly residents.
The children benefit from interacting with different generations, the residents love seeing children having fun and both experience the amazing benefits of music. Music gets their entire brain going – memories, emotions, rhythm and beat – and is especially beneficial for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
32. Your Local Library
Every council library has a schedule of free drop-in storytime for babies 0-18 months and toddlers 2-5 years. If you’re in the city then the State Library, City Library, Library at the Dock and Southbank Library all run regular storytime events.
Where are your favourite places to go with babies and toddlers in Melbourne?