Whether you’re trying to decide if the time is finally right, sporting a full-fledged baby bump or settling into life with a little, chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed by one baby-related decision or another. Where to give birth? Which infant swim class to try? The decisions are never-ending. We get it. We know it’s hard, which is why we did the legwork to compile the best of the best for moms and babies as voted by our readers: local moms like you. So dive right in. From the best midwife to the most trusted baby-sitting source, it’s all here.
Best Place to Meet Other Moms
No matter your religious or denominational preferences, regular visits to your place of worship not only refresh your spirit but open you up to meeting other families who are going through the same experiences as yours. Connect with other moms during the Sunday-school hour or at specially designed programs for new parents. Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) groups operate in a number of area churches.
Best Place to Have a Baby
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
At Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, Mom and baby are top priority. Caregivers are dedicated to supporting the choices of moms-to-be by offering hydrotherapy, water birth and the option of using a certified nurse-midwife. Designated a “Baby-Friendly Hospital” by The World Health Organization for promoting and supporting breastfeeding, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth has a full-service Breastfeeding Resource Center and Boutique that offers everything from lactation consultant services to breast pumps for sale or rent. Your choice to pursue a natural birth will be fully supported. But if things don’t go as planned, the hospital offers “gentle C-sections,” which give Mom and baby immediate skin-to-skin contact, and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit.
Fort Worth, 817/250-2000; texashealth.org/fortworth
Best Birthing Center
Gentle Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center
Expectant moms committed to a natural, non-medicated birth plan trust the certified professional midwives of Gentle Beginnings to guide them through the entire process, from their first prenatal visit to breastfeeding assistance weeks after giving birth. A team of chiropractors, yoga instructors, massage therapists and family counselors helps ensure that not only Mom but the entire family receives the highest level of care. Both of the tranquil, bed-and-breakfast-style birthing centers have birthing pools in each room and are located near backup physicians and hospitals.
Best Midwife Service
Gentle Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center
Readers loved their experiences with the relationship-focused midwives at Gentle Beginnings, bed-and-breakfast-style birthing centers also staffed with a team of chiropractors, yoga instructors, massage therapists and counselors to look after the whole woman. (The intervention-free centers also took home the prize for Best Birthing Center.)
UNT Health Nurse Midwives
This group of seven certified nurse midwives delivers at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital downtown and sees patients at three Fort Worth-area offices. Inquire about their expanding Centering Pregnancy services, prenatal care in a group setting for mothers at similar stages in pregnancy.
Fort Worth, 817/735-2300; nurse-midwife.com
Best Doula Service
Divine Birth Services, Abbey Robinson
Abbey Robinson’s own childbirth journey has empowered her to help other moms-to-be achieve the birthing experience they want, whether it’s in a hospital or a birthing center, natural or medicated. Robinson specializes in VBACs and natural births and will provide the support moms need to have the best birth possible. She is also a local instructor for Birth Boot Camp, voted Best Childbirth Class.
Tarrant County, 817/343-7545; divinebirthdoula.com
Best Childbirth Class
Birth Boot Camp
Ready for a natural birth? Birth Boot Camp will train you up right for the mission of childbirth, from setting up camp (choosing where to birth) to adjusting to life with a new recruit. This 10-session course was designed with Dad in mind, and he’s an integral part of the exercises you’ll find in the official Field Manual. Start your training online or with a live, local instructor in a casual class setting.
Multiple locations, 877/712-4784; birthbootcamp.com
Best Prenatal & Postpartum Workout
Baby Boot Camp
Put those maternity clothes in your past without leaving baby behind. Baby Boot Camp incorporates stroller and baby into 55-minute strength and cardio workouts designed to help you reclaim your pre-baby body, one push-up at a time. Your first class is free, and there’s no commitment, but the support from other new mommies will keep you coming back.
Multiple locations; 941/953-5000; babybootcamp.com
Best Place to Splurge on Baby Clothes
Zoe + Jack
Chock full of the adorable, Zoe + Jack is the destination for fashion-forward parents with zero patience for crowded, impersonal superstores. The quaint bungalow housing their goods is oh-so-endearing and their customer service is first-rate, but it’s Zoe + Jack’s fabulous duds that keep parents coming back for more. Stop in this season to keep your kid on trend. According to the store owners, nautical prints are all the rage.
Fort Worth, 817/989-2200
Best Baby-Sitting Source
Mom’s Best Friend
Need a night out? (You’re right – that was a stupid question.) Mom’s Best Friend meets every caregiver applicant in person, so you know you’re getting the best of the best when you book a sitter, nanny or overnight caregiver to look after your little one. The agency uses a rigorous 10-step screening process to ensure your family is matched with a sitter who is responsible, creative and passionate about kids. Annual membership is $125 for the first year and $100 for renewal.
DFW Area, 817/226-2669; mbfagency.com
Best Child-Care Center for Babies
The Children’s Courtyard
Children’s Courtyard takes an individualized approach to child care by taking each child’s unique learning style into account. For infants as young as 6 weeks, this means individualized lesson plans including motor skill enhancement, singing, physical explorations and sign language use. Coupled with caring teachers eager to offer up lots of cuddles in Mom and Dad’s absence, it’s easy to see why Children’s Courtyard has been a trusted resource for local parents since its inception in 1986.
Multiple locations, childrenscourtyard.com
Best Mommy & Baby Class
The Little Gym
For decades, The Little Gym has been a go-to for moms looking to learn and grow with their littles. Starting at 4 months, babies can benefit from The Little Gym’s three-dimensional approach to learning. Weekly classes are designed to get your child moving, boost his brain function and develop independence and socialization skills. The Little Gym believes this holistic approach helps children become well-rounded, well-adjusted and happy adults.
Multiple locations, thelittlegym.com
Best Infant Swim Class
Emler Swim School
Everyone, even newborns, should experience the joys of playing safely in the water: That’s the philosophy that has guided Emler Swim School for nearly 40 years. Their free Bathtime Babies class for infants as young as 2 months introduces parent and child to bathtime activities, while the Waterbabies Mommy-and-me course teaches baby to float and swim safely.
Multiple locations, 817/552-7946; emlerswimschool.com
Best Resale Shop
Kid to Kid
It’s true; kids outgrow their clothes almost as quickly as they lose interest in that shiny, once-new toy, but no worries with Kid to Kid. Look for their pink doors at area locations and resell your gently used children’s clothing, books, toys, baby gear and maternity wear, sportswear and even costumes. Then stay to browse for the items you need now. Join their loyalty program to get the most for your dollar.
Multiple locations, kidtokid.com
Best One-Stop Shop for Baby Goods
Parenting a newborn requires patience, unconditional love and, yes, frequent trips to the store for reinforcements on diapers. Your local Target already takes the cake as the one-stop shop for groceries, clothing and home décor, and their baby section is far from the least of their well-stocked departments. Find top brands for feeding essentials, furniture for the nursery, play gear and more baby gear for your life on-the-go. Buying for another new mom? Stop by the baby registry to see her exact wish list.
Multiple locations, target.com
Best Toy Store
Mattel Toy Store
You’ll find Mattel Toy Store’s sole Dallas-Fort Worth location just a couple miles north of the Stockyards. Their Mattel-only products mean a wider selection of your classic toys, new favorites and baby gear by Fisher-Price. Have a seat anytime on the play area cushions to watch feature-length kids’ films, and on select Saturdays, join other preschoolers for story times and popcorn. For a discount that will make you and your little one grin, print the coloring page from online, color and bring in for a discount.
Fort Worth, 817/302-3360; matteltoystore.com
Best Maternity Store
One great thing about maternity clothes, you won’t wear them forever, so feel freer to indulge in those trends you’ve been resisting. Stylists at Motherhood Maternity will show you how to put together affordable versions of those super-chic outfits that make you swoon. No matter how close to your due date, you’ll find figure-flattering pieces for any occasion: work wear, loungewear, wrap dresses for date night and layering pieces to transition into the next season.
Multiple locations, motherhood.com
Published February 2014