New moms in Edmonton — have you heard of the John Janzen?
Have your mama friends been talking about that “cool nature centre” or the “nature place” with the indoor beehive and squishy acorns? With cool treehouse that you can climb into? And a beaver dam with a water stream? And an area with nature-inspired displays and animals to see, like frogs and snakes?
They’re talking about the City of Edmonton’s John Janzen Nature Centre, and it’s indoor play centre, the Tegler Discovery Zone. It’s a wonderful spot in our city to take your new babies, older babies, toddlers and older kiddos for a fun morning or afternoon. It’s definitely one of my favourites. You’ll need a pair of socks to play in the play centre, so don’t forget those.
How Baby-Friendly is the John Janzen Nature Centre?
After you’ve parked, there’s a bit of a walk to the front door of the nature centre, which is to the left of the Fort Edmonton Park entrance. If you’re carting more than one baby, or a toddler-and-baby combo, take your stroller for the walk to the front door.
Simply follow the pathway and signs. The front door has automatic doors for easy, hands-free entry. Inside, there is designated stroller parking, which is conveniently close to the front doors and the shoe and coat racks.
It’s got seating and a safe, fun, interactive play area.
The play centre, or Tegler Discovery Zone, has seating for breast and chest feeding, and an open, safe play area to watch your toddlers and play with them.
If you’re taking a new baby, or an older baby that’s not walking yet, it’s perfect. There are acorns and soft blocks to play with (take your sanitizer wipes, haha) and plenty of space to do tummy time, interact with other kids and them play. My toddler loves the slide and treehouse, both which are accessed by a few “steep” stairs for the wobbly ones– so you may have to assist the younger walkers.
I’ve seen many new moms (and dads) take their carrier or wrap, and baby-wear while their newborns while their toddler or other kiddos play. It’s a good way to supervise hands-free.
Two things to note — socks are required and loose-lid coffee cups are not permitted.
Don’t forget your socks, no shoes or bare feet are allowed. You can buy socks for adults or kids at the front for cheap. (Around $2)
If you need your caffeine fix, take your coffee mug, and make sure the lid will stay securley on. If you happen to buy a Starbucks or Tim Hortons on your way to the John Janzen, no sweat. The front desk will keep your coffee safe at the front, so you can still take a quick sip, or just grab it on your way out of the play centre when you go into the other areas.
The staff are welcoming and love seeing the little ones.
I always feel welcome at the John Janzen, and never out of place. Breastfeeding is welcome, new moms are welcome, it’s wonderful. You’ll be in great company. I’ve heard many crying babies.
Since it’s a play centre, there’s never an issue with noise or busy little ones. Alex has always loved exploring and wandering, and tantrums occasionally (ok, a lot) in public — it’s never bothered anyone.
There’s a family washroom.
The John Janzen has an accessible washroom next to the front entrance, just by the stroller parking. It’s great, with a change table, closed diaper pail that I’ve never seen overflowing, and step stool for the older ones to practice washing their hands. (Or splashing and spraying you and the mirror, whichever.)
The other washrooms are equipped with change tables, too.
I have also changed Alex in the other washrooms, up the stairs and to the right. They’re great as well, and usually have step stools available for kids to wash their hands as well.
New mamas in Edmonton, visit the John Janzen!
You’ll absolutely love it.
To find it, simply drive to Fort Edmonton Park, and the nature centre will be to the left. You’ll park in the same parking lot.
It’s very baby-friendly and very affordable, with a drop-in fee of $3 per child that’s 0-23 months and $7.50 per child that’s 2 + years. One parent is included in that price, for free.
Tip: I bought a Naturally Edmonton 3-in-1 Pass in June, for both Alex and I. It cost just over $130, for an annual membership that gives my toddler and me unlimited access the John Janzen, the Edmonton Valley Zoo and the Muttart Conservatory — all of which are very baby-friendly City of Edmonton facilities. Rock on!