more than one way to raise a child

Five things to do with your animal obsessed toddler

Five things to do with your animal obsessed toddler

The Boy is a complete animal lover.  It’s so cute to see his face light up when he sees a puppy or a flock of birds.

Having unfortunately lost our own cat to a traffic accident when The Boy was 8 weeks old, we have been trying to find the best (and cheapest) animal days out for babies and toddlers in West London. Here are our favourites. 

1.  Vauxhall City Farm 

Whilst technically not in West London, the Vauxhall Farm is right next to Vauxhall station – a mere 20 minutes from Chiswick. The Boy found the train ride itself super exciting.

The farm is free to visit and hosts pigs, guinea pigs, donkeys, horses, and chickens to name a few. Food for the animals can be purchased for the braver kids. The Boy loved petting the goats and llamas as well as watching the budgies flying around their cage. For older children, they offer school holiday activities and birthday parties. There is also a cute cafe with plenty of high chairs and baby change space.

One word of caution – we went to the farm a few times before when The Boy was younger and it was not appreciated – best for those age 10 – 11 months and up. Also, pregnant mamas should be careful as goats, in particular, can carry some nasty diseases.

Vauxhall City Farm is open Tuesday to Sunday 10.30am – 4pm (closed Mondays) and is free to visit.

2. Chiswick House & Gardens

Both Kate and I are complete devotees of the park around Chiswick House. It’s perfect for gossipy walks with your NCT group, cozy coffees with the Grandparents and most importantly for bird and dog watching. The Boy loves to watch the birds on the lake – particularly the gorgeous heron.

Please remember when visiting not to feed bread to the ducks – they much prefer bird seed, corn, peas or grapes.

The Gardens are open from 7am to dusk and are free to enjoy. Chiswick House is open every day except Tuesdays (April – October) 10am – 5pm.

3. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

Visiting Battersea was one of The Boy’s best days out ever, as well as being a great way to support the amazing work that charity does. From Chiswick its equidistant to the main home by Queenstown Road Battersea and their outpost near Windsor. We drove the 20 minutes down the A4 to Windsor on one of the coldest days of the year to visit the dogs and cats available for adoption. Entry was cheap and all profits go to helping animals in need. It’s a high-risk day out – we narrowly avoided taking home a beautiful Lurcher called Luna.

Battersea (and Old Windsor) centers are open 10.30am – 4pm. Visits cost £2 per adult, £1 child age 3 – 15.

4. Pet’s at Home

It’s a bit cheeky but The Boy loves to visit the Pet’s at Home store in Kew to look at their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. It’s a great outing to overcome the trauma of grocery shopping (Sainsbury’s) or DIY shopping (Homebase). It’s also great practice for not getting over excited – The Boy took a while to learn that bunnies don’t like it when you shout!

Opening times vary by store and entry is free (although you probably should buy something there if you go a lot).

5. Osterley Garden Center

Another cheeky outing, The Boy loved visiting the fishes at the fish shop in this Garden Center from the age of around 4 months. Something about the lights and movement of the fish is captivating to a young baby. The Garden Center also has a small soft play but every time we have gone it’s been too busy for small children. There is also a cafe and a shop selling everything from the obvious plants to children’s books and specialty foods.

The garden center is open 9am – 5.30pm Monday – Saturday and 10.30 – 4.30 on Sunday. Again, entry is free but we suggest you buy a coffee or a little treat from the cafe.

Is your baby an animal lover? Do you have any other tips for “animal” days out? We are thinking about Hounslow Farm – anyone been?



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