This is the list of Frequently Asked Questions for the arborparents e-mail list.

Arborparents is an e-mail list for parents who live in or near Ann Arbor, Michigan. To join, send a blank message to

Please note that even if a topic is listed here, you are welcome to bring it up on the list. It's likely that someone will have new insights when the topic comes up again.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

  1. What are some cool features of this list?
  2. Where can I find a babysitter? How much should I pay?
  3. Where can I find good childcare?
  4. Got any local shopping tips?
  5. Where can I donate some used items?
  6. Who are some good doctors and dentists?
  7. What are some activities for babies or small children, especially on a snowy day?
  8. What are some good playgrounds?
  9. What are some gyms with good childcare?
  10. What are some good childbirth classes?
  11. Who are some good doulas?
  12. Where can you have a good birthday party?
  13. What are some other groups with related topics?

1. What are some cool features of this list?
To use any of these features you'll need a Yahoo ID. If you don't already have a Yahoo ID, you can go to to create it. Sign up using the same e-mail address that your list e-mail is sent to. Then you can use the following features:

2. Where can I find a babysitter? How much should I pay?

  • The best way to find a babysitter is word of mouth. Talk to other parents. Sometimes you can spot a good sitter at the playground, interacting wonderfully with somebody else's kids. Watching for youngsters who are eager to babysit seems to be a good technique. Begging the reluctant teenager next door does not seem to work so well.
  • The Washtenaw County Red Cross offers babysitting classes. In general, people on the list have found that sitters who have taken this class generally seem to be babysitters who are safety oriented and motivated. For privacy reasons, the Red Cross won't give out contact information for their students — but you can ask them to give your name and phone number to their current students and have the students contact you to set up babysitting arrangements. You can call the Red Cross at 734-971-5300. Their contact info page has their e-mail address and other ways to contact them.
  • Another idea for child care is to get the babysitter list from EMU (ask at their career center - 487-0400) or from Concordia College (their main number is 995-7300). People on the list report that they have friends who have been very happy with Concordia College babysitters.
  • Call the local church! They often have a list of babysitting potentials.
  • If your child is in daycare or preschool, sometimes some of the teachers are available to babysit after hours. They are often awesomely well-trained, too!
  • Sometimes you can find other parents to "swap kids" with.
  • Sometimes your grownup friends who love kids will babysit.


  • $3-5/hour for a 13 year old sitter
  • $5-8/hour for a college student
  • $8-12/hour for sitters beyond college-age
  • The more kids you have, the higher the rate.
  • Those rates are for Ann Arbor. Sitters in Ypsi are reported to cost less.
  • To tip, round up. For example, if you owe your sitter $18, pay $20.

3. Where can I find good childcare?

4. Got any local shopping tips?

  • The Friends of the Library booksale has children's books for 25 to 50 cents. They're open every Saturday and Sunday from September through April. Twice a year they clean out their inventory: half-price on Saturday, and then on Sunday and Monday it costs $4 to fill a grocery bag with books.
  • Value World, a thrift store located in the Maple Village shopping center at Maple and Dexter, has amazingly low prices on kids' clothes, toys, maternity clothes. (One mom reports finding nice maternity dresses and pants for between $1.25 and $2.50 there.) For children's clothes, be prepared to do some sorting through junk to find the good stuff.
  • Garage sales!
    Here are Aunt Debbie's Garage Sale Tips:
    1. I scan the papers only. I rarely go to sales that I see driving by. I check for things in the paper such as "quality baby clothes" or "kids clothes" and even things like "Gap, Oshkosh, etc. children's clothing." If there are clothes, there are usually other baby things and toys, but not always vice versa.
    2. I only go to three sales, maybe four, maybe just one. Otherwise, I'll burn myself out.
    3. I go right at the time they open. For good quality clothes, it is equivalent of one of those ads on TV that show people crowding around the door waiting for it to be unlocked and then they all run in.
    4. I go to certain areas only. I NEVER go in my own neighborhood! The best success I've had are in the west side/Eberwhite areas as well as the Dicken, Pioneer High School areas. Go to "rich people houses" where they are likely to have lots of good quality clothes for their kids and their kids hardly have a chance to wear them all. If you go into my neighborhood, you're likely to get KMart stuff with holes in them.
    5. Buy ahead. I have several "Gap" clothes for my daughter to wear just about now or next year that I bought two or three years ago. I store them in boxes by sizes. Unfortunately, I'm having a tough time finding boys clothes at this age....I think boys are just dressed in blue jeans and t-shirts and put holes thru them while girls seem to have a larger wardrobe in general. Don't worry too much about growth and seasons. You can always give them away...especially since you know you only paid 50c. for it.
  • eBay has lots of baby and kids' clothes and equipment. Note that shipping for big items (eg. furniture) can be expensive. It's a great place to find very specific out of season items, for example eBay may be the only place where you can find size 3T footed pajamas in March. Here are Valerie's eBay tips.
  • Check the Ann Arbor News freebie ads for good deals on used baby equipment and other household items. You can search the Freebies from right here. Enter a keyword to search the Freebies for (example: stroller) and click the Search button:
  • The various dollar stores around town have cheap toys, and sometimes clothes or baby equipment.
  • Kiwanis has a rummage sale that runs every Saturday morning. First St. at Washington - 665-0450.
  • The Ann Arbor Public Schools PTO thrift shop - 1621 S. State (inside Bargain Books) - 996-9155 - Accepts and sells small household goods, clothing and toys.
  • Ann Arbor reuse center has furniture, books, building materials, appliances, electronics, and lots of other things. No toys or clothes. 2420 S. Industrial - 662-6288.
  • The City of Ann Arbor has a handy page that lists Resale or Donation Centers that lists lots more places where you can donate or buy items that are "used but not used up".
  • Kensington Valley outlet mall is about 35 minutes away (Take 23 North to 96 West, past Howell) and they have some kids' stores there. Carters, The Kids Place, and Old Navy are all there. Hit the Old Navy at the right time (and be willing to stock up for upcoming seasons) and you'll cackle with glee at what you pay.
  • Cloth Diapers:
  • I would like to recommend the Chinaberry book catalog (available by mail or on-line). They do a great job of writing very detailed descriptions of children's books and have been a source I use frequently for buying books for my nieces and nephews. They provide a lot of information about the books they carry and have had very reasonable age ranges listed. They are also a small, family run business-a welcome change from the Borders/Barnes and Noble mega stores.
  • Garage Sale Gallery, out on Jackson Road.
  • You might also try Craig's list. I see they finally have a Detroit area list. I used it a lot when I live in the SF bay area. Good classifieds, etc. I always had good luck with it.

5. Where can I donate some used items?

  • Here is arborweb's Community Services - Donations page. It lists about a dozen places where you can donate used items.
  • The City of Ann Arbor has a handy page that lists Resale or Donation Centers that lists lots more places where you can donate or buy items that are "used but not used up". Washtenaw County has a page specifically about places where you can donate baby supplies
  • SAFE House has a big wish list, which includes toys, for the shelter that they run for victims of domestic violence. They may be one of the few places willing to take donations of used car seats.
  • House By The Side Of The Road is a non- profit that acts as a "store" of sorts to people who are residing in Safe House - 4133 Washtenaw (Washtenaw County Complex At Hogback Rd.) - 971-2550.
  • The Salvation Army in Ann Arbor has a truck that accepts donations all week, I think.
  • The Scrap Box will accept donations of baby food jars and lots of other odds and ends.
  • If you belong to a church, they might accept donations.
  • Catholic Social Services houses the "Healthy Families" program for parents of children under 5 as well as Families First for Jackson and Hillsdale Counties. At some point they were taking almost any baby items that were donated. Since then, Fr. Pat's has joined CSS which probably raises the demand for baby items. They often will not accept adult clothing, but baby items are almost always welcome.
  • Fairy Godparents are very well organized and cover many bases. From what I understand, they accept donations for items that have already been requested by consumers.
  • Ronald McDonald House, or a hospital children's ward are other ideas.
  • There are a host of non-profits that might benefit from such a donation. Check out Washtenaw County Organizations. This is a list of some non-profits in Washtenaw County who are online on Comnet.
  • One word in general about donations, from someone who worked for a non-profit for years. This time of year everyone wants to give. And everyone is looking for somewhere to donate their items. While it is true that one man's trash is another man's treasure, please try to look at your items with an objective eye. Is the item clean? Is it useful? Is is fairly current (if that is relevant)? How would you feel about receiving the item that you are about to donate? People, no matter how poor, do not want to receive junk. Even if you have no money, you still have dignity. O.K., I will get off of my soapbox now.
  • Many of the places listed above in the shopping section of this page also accept donations.

6. Who are some good doctors and dentists?
Here are some comments people on the list have posted about local doctors and dentists. Note that a different person is speaking in each comment.

Jump to comments about:

Pediatricians and family practice:

  • I would like to recommend our old pediatrician Dr. John Gall. He is located on Liberty and can be reached at 994-5858. He is a wonderful grandfatherly type man. He has a very gentle, caring way of working with children. I also appreciated that I didn't have to push a million buttons to finally talk to a human when I called the office. We also didn't have to see a half a dozen assistants during our visits. Dr. Gall is the one to come to the waiting room to get his patients, he is the one you see the whole visit, and he walks you back to the waiting room when you are done. At our previous pediatrician my son would cry hysterically almost the whole visit. Dr Gall was able to make our visits a very pleasant experience!
    Note: Dr. Gall has retired.
  • We started with Dr. Dumont but had many problems with his nurse practitioners because we have chosen not to vaccinate and we want to avoid antibiotics. Switched to Dr. Chernin who we had heard good things about but I thought he lacked good bedside manner and for some reason my son was terrified of him. I tried to switch to Dr. Scheer but he was not taking any new patients at the time so we went back to Dr. Dumont for a while. Had yet another heated discussion with one of the nurse practitioners and finally found Dr. Jacobowitz. She is partners with Dr. Breakey. We love Dr. Jacobowitz. She is a little more medically inclined than I would like but she totally respects my decisions as an informed consumer. Additionally, her partner, Dr. Breakey is into more natural medicine and homeopathy. I also like having a woman pediatrician. She is really great with the children and they like her. She is a board certified internist and pediatrician so our whole family sees her. I have heard good things about Dr. Scheer...
  • As an MCare member, I've found that their Briarwood Family Practice Center has been very helpful in treating our 3 children. Our 3 year old son has a tendency to ear infections, but they don't prescribe antibiotics unless they're sure that it is bacterial and not viral. Most of them are viral. They accept other than MCare members as far as I know.
  • We take our child to the Adult Medicine and Pediatrics group at East Ann Arbor Health Center. It is located on Plymouth Road just east of US-23. This group is wonderful. Also, they are great about not over-treating children's ailments. Our son has never had any prescriptions for antibiotics. I've brought him in a number of times just to be checked because something was bothering him and we didn't know what. They were really good about checking him out thoroughly but not feeling obligated to send us home with a prescription. I think a lot of doctors prescribe medications only because they think patients expect it. Another thing I like about the group is that as far as I can tell, they are very supportive of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, topics which have become important to me. We've seen quite a few of the doctors in the practice and have been impressed with the quality of care we've received from every last one of them. Every one of them has been kind and gentle and patient with our child, treated us parental types like intelligent people who know a lot about our children, and they always seem knowledgeable about their medical information. One of the doctors from that practice is on this list, but I'd say the same nice things about their practice even if he wasn't listening. :)
  • We go to family practice at East Ann Arbor, and Dr. Fetters seems to have the same attitude. We have been happy with them.
  • We love Dr. Baker!!! [At East Ann Arbor Health Center]
  • I met a couple of pediatricians who have recently taken over retired Dr. Gall's practice, Liberty Pediatrics: Beth Barclay, M.D. and Andy Seiler, M.D. †I was favorably impressed with them, particularly with their support for parents who question conventional medical attitudes or who make pretty alternative choices (e.g., extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, selective immunization). †They are definitely mainstream physicians, well-trained by the U-M medical establishment, but they seem very open to working with families wherever they are on these kinds of parenting issues. †Also, they make housecalls.
  • My daughter's pediatrician actually made a housecall - for conjunctivitis!! Last Friday when I picked my daughter up at daycare there was some discharge from her eyes and there was a sign up saying that the kids had been exposed to conjunctivitis (pink eye). Her eyes were stuck shut and swollen when she woke up Saturday morning. So I decided to call the pediatrician to ask if we could do anything to relieve the problem until I got her to see him on Monday. His response was "Where do you live?.. Oh I live close by. Why don't I drop by and take a look. You can never be too careful about eyes". And then he did come over - little black bag and all, did a thorough exam while attending my daughter's imaginary tea party, and wrote us a prescription. This was really amazing. The pediatrician is Dr. Andrew Seiler, who with Dr, Barclay recently bought Dr. Gall's practice.
  • East Ann Arbor Health Center, [located at] Plymouth and Earhart. The best! Their pediatrics are fabulous, and the internal medicine and ob/gyn are wonderful too.
  • We also go to a family doctor, I like that the staff knows us all. It cuts back on all the questions we got at the big pediatric clinic on Eisenhower about my 3 year old's diet every time we went in (she is tall and thin, so if a Doc treats all of us it is apparent why and not food related). We go to Dr. Jacobowitz on Hogback road, just north of Washtenaw. She is great. When we all went in to meet her the first thing my 3 year old said is "I like her". My daughter is wary of new people, so this was quite an announcement. I would heartily recommend her too.
  • We second that...we love Dr. Jacobowitz. I moved to Manchester and switched doctors since the drive to Dr. Jocobowitz's office was so far but we have since switched back because we are unsatisfied with the doctor here in town. The 45 minute drive is worth it.
  • I'm also a great fan of Liberty Pediatrics. I've been going there since my daughter was born (2-1/4 yrs.). I was sad when Dr. Gall left but have been very happy that the attitudes have remained the same: personal and knowledgeable care, rarely having to wait in the waiting room more than 10 minutes, paced visits, lots of listening from both Judy the NP and Dr. Seiler.
  • We have been taking our daughter to West Ann Arbor Health Center since her birth. I have found that Dr. Sandvig is rushed sometimes, though I have noticed it more recently than in the past. (This seems true of the office in general.) When we first brought our daughter to her in 1998, she spent a lot of time with us. I think part of that is she does have too much to do -- teaching, three kids of her own, and not enough office hours. That has been real frustrating. I have also found her responsive to feedback, though. I also think she is very sharp and sensible. I have also seen the other pediatricians in the office, Dr. Blackman (probably not as sharp as Dr. Sandvig, but he's really great with our daughter). There is another doctor who we saw for a sick call who was very nice. I like the fact that we have never had to wait more than a day for a sick call--- they will stay after hours if your child needs to see them. (That happened only a few months ago, on a Friday afternoon as well.) There has also been good communication between the ER and the doctor office on the occasions when this has been needed, and we have had very good service at the UM hospital ER, especially when the pediatric ER has been open. My internist and gynecologist are both at West Ann Arbor too so they know who I am, and I think that helps. It's also true that our daughter, after her first year of life, has been very healthy and since her second birthday, we have only had to take her for sick visits infrequently. We also really don't depend on our physicians for well-baby advice. We are members of a support group run by an experienced pediatric nurse who goes to our Temple, and that's where I go with questions I can't answer for myself. In general, you have to remember that the University of Michigan is a teaching hospital and I guess I have stopped a long time ago expecting them to have relaxed service as their strong point. I am very reassured by their expertise, and that's why I go there. If you ask for time, you will tend to get it, but they don't go there first.
  • We've been going to West A2 Health Center for a couple of years now, and I think the three physicians we see (internist, pediatrician, and OB/Gyn) are excellent. I always feel very well taken care of in so many ways: they take me seriously, for one thing (my last physician didn't); they've proven to be excellent diagnosticians, and when I've needed time to talk, they've always given it to me. Dr. Blackman (the pediatrician) saw my daughter the day after we came home with her from China, and we've seen him several times since. Dr. Blackman seems very knowledgeable about adoption health and emotional issues, and I really appreciate his calm demeanor and good common sense. My daughter loves him. And when I've needed quick appointments, I've received them. Since UM is a teaching hospital, I've thought to kind of expect a rushed environment, but I have to say that we've received excellent care. I only wish we'd been getting that in the past from another service!
  • I don't know that they are Liberty-Pediatrics calibre, but I've been quite happy with the four doctors I've seen at Briarwood Family Practice. They are often so booked that it is hard to schedule a regular appointment, but I have never failed to get in the same day when I or my child have been unexpectedly sick. I like all the doctors that I've seen there and am also happy with the Family Nurse Practitioners. I don't see the Physician Assistant there anymore (if I can help it) but she's the only one I avoid. I've seen Drs. Ruffin, Malouin, Gallagher, and Bartelme, the latter being my regular doctor. There is ample parking and it's right by the mall so it's easy to get to. Not sure what insurance they take, but they say they participate in "many plans." It's a 14-doctor practice but it doesn't feel that big to me. I sometimes get put on hold waiting for an appointment, but I always eventually get to talk to a human.
  • Dr. LeDesai is my personal doctor and my childrens pediatrician. A more gentle, kind, informed doctor I have not known. She does work part time as she has small children but also on your list and at her practice is Kristen Krieger, my husband's doctor and up there as a great doctor. We adore the staff there, all of them! They are out past Domino Farms on Plymouth Rd.
  • Sorry for the length, but I really like my doctor and I feel that in this day and age of specialist, family practice doesn't get its due. You asked about Briarwood Family Practice--that's where my entire family goes. I got my obstetric care and continuing gynecological care there, and it's where we go for my son's pediatric care. It's a true family practice! I'm quite happy with them. They have two nurse practitioners on staff whom I am happy to see for anything routine and that helps with scheduling. There is a Physician's Assistant there whom I did not like, but she is the only one I try to avoid. My doctor is Ricardo Bartelme. My only complaint is that he's busy and often overbooked, not helped by the fact that he has a few weeks each semester where he is at the hospital delivering babies or teaching med students. He tends to take more time with his patients than the appointments really allow, so by 9 a.m. he's running late! However, I can't be upset about a doctor who cares about answering all his patient's questions, so I just try for early appointments and bring a book. When we have to get in for something sudden, I usually go with whomever they can squeeze us in with. It's a pretty conventional practice, but they seem open to alternative therapies if you ask. They also are cautious about new medicines--they never gave rotovirus (later pulled off the market!), and they were cautious about giving varicella, too. I like that. I recently wanted to try a new birth control method and although I was the first patient to ask, Dr. Bartleme had already read a ton of information about it.
  • Re: Briarwood family practice, I used to go there years ago.. OK, many years ago.. and was perfectly satisfied, except for two drs who I thought were just idiots. One of them misdiagnosed an allergic dermatitis type reaction as scabies... and stuck to his guns even though when he looked at a scraping in the microscope, could find no evidence or fragments of scabies. When I returned a week later with the condition worsening, he admitted that the treatment lotion would have resolved it if it were scabies, so I did NOT have scabies. I went home and used over the counter meds, Caladryl topically and Benedryl internally, and it cleared up. The other idiot wanted to put me on some type of antidepressant when I admitted to a lot of work stress at the time. It was a severe stressful situation, enough that I was getting a lot of different viral infections, but drugs and I do not go together and I prefer to find nonchemical ways to handle stress. So on my last appointment with him, he keeps me waiting for an hour, then grills me as to why I wouldn't take the antidepressant. Then he said that I seemed "agitated." Well, I've been waiting an HOUR, who wouldn't be? I threw the pills in the trash can right in front of him then walked out of there never to return.
  • I use Briarwood Family Practice and basically like all the docs I've seen there. My own doctor, Ricardo Bartelme, works only part-time so I never see him except for something I schedule months in advance like a pap and pelvic. For something that just comes up, like a sinus infection, I've seen Drs. Bohn, Stefanelli, Green, Rogers,and a few others whose names I've forgotten, and liked them all. They have evening hours which is handy, and the nurses are pretty good when you call w/ a question.
  • My husband and I go to the Briarwood facility. He very much likes one of the nurse practitioners there -- Judy Brady. I see Dr. Shehab -- who is really wonderful-- for general stuff and routine gynecological exams. It is a relatively large practice, so they are busy. It is sometimes hard to get a routine appointment if you don't (or can't) schedule in advance. They are very good, however, about working you in for 'emergency' situations like strep throat, ear infections, etc. Of course, in such situations is very rare to see your primary care-giver. In all, we are satisfied with the care we have received.
  • I see Caren Stahlburg [at Briarwood Family Practice] and I like her very much. My internist is in the same office -- Arvin Gill. I like him as well.
  • I take my 3 kids to UofM Briarwood... I've seen Dr. Kirkpatrick twice and liked him, however we almost always see Dr. Kileny and LOVE her! Just last Friday we saw Dr. Hammer, she was also wonderful.
  • I thought I should share with you my health care provider - Community Family Health. (734) 998-6117 The Community Family Health Center (CFHC) is a community-based primary health center where my family receives complete individualized holistic primary health care in a relaxed professional setting. Care is provided by nurse practitioners working collaboratively with physicians and other health care providers. It is very small - only 3 exam rooms. Everyone knows your name - great individual attention. There's always someone on call to answer your questions like "My daughter put an M & M up her nose and it won't come out. What should I do?" "I accidentally took 6 of my husband's Zantac instead of 6 of my asthma steroid pills, what should I do?" (yes, I have made these calls) And the person actually knows you personally! They don't have tons of babies - my son was the first baby born in their practice, but since then, there have been more. They always asked me the right questions about breastfeeding and checked to make sure I was doing it right. I needed help, they would have given me good help. They also function as a low income clinic and they have HARC meetings there, so the waiting room always has an eclectic mix of people in it. I like that. Plus, they really respect my opinions and that is great for me!
  • I really like Dr. Michelle Rabideau at the U-M Dexter Family Practice. It is a hike for me, but they usually have same or next day appointments available and Dr. Rabideau is wonderful. She provides OB/GYN care, as well as other care. She is a great listener. I know others who have seen others in this practice and have been favorably impressed.
  • My son goes to Child Health Associates - Dr. Carmen Green-Lee, WONDERFUL DOCTOR!

Obstetricians, Gynecologists, and Midwives:

  • I recommend Dr. Charles Leland at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. 712-6700. I used him twice and have had an excellent experience. His practice includes one other young woman OB and two nurse-midwives. He is extremely compassionate and skilled.
  • I used Dr. Margaret Punch when I delivered my baby at UofM via MCare. I was 41 and it was my first child. Except for my age which put me in a high risk category automatically, nothing else was complicated about my pregnancy. She was great at answering questions and giving me as much time as I needed. I will say that she was only there for about 25 minutes of my 21 hour labor and that I've heard great things about nurse midwives, mostly that they are there for hours with you.
  • I used Dr. Punch for both of my children. I would recommend Margaret to anyone. She is the best. She was always kind, attentive and has a great sense of humor. Both of my babies were delivered by c-section, and I am so glad that she delivered my second. I had lots of scar tissue, and she said that it was a much more difficult surgery than she expected. All went well, and the visual scar this time is even nicer.... It is not a small practice, but I never felt lost in the shuffle. Also you have the support of the knowledge and expertise of the U of M behind her. I liked that a lot!
  • In response to the recommendation of Dr. Menon -- I am sure many people had good experience with her but mine was so bad that I feel obliged to warn anyone who is considering switching to her practice. My water broke few days before my due date. I rushed to the hospital only to be dismissed --it was three o'clock in the morning, the doctors from Dr. Menon's practice were 'too busy' to see me, and the resident physician wasn't sure whether it was 'just a leak' and they sent me home. I finally got to see doctor Menon two days after that, and she still showed no concern for the leak. As a result the amniotic fluid got so infected that my son had to be rushed to the intensive care right after he was born (four days after the water broke) and stayed there for five days (and then another five in a 'regular' room). Not only did Menon show no remorse, she even put in the official documents that she did not know about the leak. I wish you all bettter luck in finding a good doctor than I had.
  • I really like my OB/GYN - I use Associates In Gynecology and Obstetrics. They're in Ypsi by St. Joseph Mercy. Their number is 734-434-6200. My primary doctor there is Gayle Moyer, who I really really like. I've met all the other doctors, except for Dr. Beemer, and I like them all. Especially Dr. Rajiv Deenadayalu. A friend of a friend who delivered with him said he was a wonderful labor coach, able to guide her through the pushing process without tearing at all.
  • In terms of an OB/GYN, I cannot recommend Dr. Mangledevi Menon strongly enough. She is in practice with Dr. Mary Johnson on Clark Road in Ypsilanti (313-572-9600), right near St. Joes Hospital. I have gone to her for over 15 years and have been nothing but pleased with the care I have received from her and the other staff in the office. It is a small practice so people actually know you. Very refreshing. We also had many fertility problems and pregnancy losses and Dr. Menon provided very compassionate care. I am not sure what all insurance she takes but I do know that she delivers at St. Joe's Hospital. I don't think she delivers at U of M anymore. Ypsilanti may not be super convenient but I find that it is worth the drive to see someone you feel comfortable with. I have never had trouble getting in for an appointment when I was having a problem.
  • Dr. Beemer is my OB/GYN! He's awesome. I really like all the docs at Gynecology and Obstetrics. I'd recommend any of them.
  • I can sure recommend Dr. Shadigian and anyone in that office. Dr. Nicholson practices out of there and she delivered both of my C section babies. (First time emergency second time was not). She's really awesome. For routine care, maybe some have an issue with not seeing a doctor, but I never have a problem seeing the nurse practicioner. Her name is Diana and is also excellent. She's very professional, warm and supportive, knowledgable.
  • I will second the recommendation for the ob/gyns group at East Ann Arbor Health Center (located at Plymouth and US-23). Dr. Nicholson is currently my OB/GYN who has delivered both of my children (naturally). I have also had Dr. Shadigian, who I must say is a VERY compassionate people type person. There is a great deal of experience among the doctors in this clinic. The nurse practitioner, Diana, is awesome. She might as well be the physician! They are very attentive to what the patient's desires and needs are...not pushy as far as meds or having to give birth via a certain way. There are midwives in this clinic as well.
  • I know you mentioned that you like a smaller practice but I can't recommend enough the group that Dr. Deenadayalu is with. My OB is one of his colleagues, Dr. Beemer. As is usual with their practice, we met all of the doctors in the group during my pregnancy. Dr. Deenadayalu was a particular favorite of the docs we met.
  • I also highly recommend the UM midwifery practice. They delivered my twins, as well as my youngest! I also use them for my routine care as well.
  • I know Cheryl Bachman personally and she is a wonderful person and a wonderful nurse midwife. I personally used New Moon for my homebirth, but if I had to deliver somewhere other than home, I would definately choose Cheryl and Jennifer.
  • I'm just seconding the recommendations for Cheryl Bachman/Jennifer Cartwright as CNMs. I had them last year throughout my pregnancy and birth and loved them! They're both kind, thoughtful, positive...all those things you want in a midwife. Plus, they also do exams and everything, so I don't have a separate Ob/gyn. They are affiliated with the IHA group of ob/gyns (in the same office, as well), so if you wanted/needed to go to an ob/gyn instead of them, you easily could. However, I appreciate their "bedside" (tableside? :) ) manner *so* much that I've only seen them. I know they take BCBC/Community Blue. We saw both of them throughout the pregnancy and always commented on how different they were, but how much we liked both of them and how we'd be happy and totally comfortable with either one at the birth (we had Cheryl).
  • I know a new doctor in town, Dr. Lorna Cvetkovich, personally. She has only one partner, and she is very knowledgable and compassionate, especially about natural birth.

Pregnancy Massage:

  • An excellent massage therapist for pregnancy is Audrey Simon, she does pretty exclusively pregnant women. I went to her during my last four months of pregnancy, when my back doctor recommended her. Audrey Simon's phone is 663-2783. She also has a fun infant massage class I also went to.
  • I agree that Audrey is wonderful; we also took her infant massage class. She is an interesting person and has a real interest in babies. So I second the recommendation (although I didn't have her do any massage on me; just my son!).
  • While pregnant I went to Head to Toe Therapies up on Plymouth Road -- don't remember who I saw, but it was very pleasant and good. More recently I've been going to In-Touch Massage which is just now moving from State near the Produce Station to Eisenhower Pkwy. The last therapist I saw was Pat and she told me she also gives pregnancy massages and that most therapists have been trained for pregnancy massages, as well. She has the pillows, etc. to make it comfortable. ENJOY!! Its one of the best things to do for yourself while pregnant.

Alternative Medicine (acupuncture, osteopathy, etc.):

  • We've used Dr. J. Sherrer (sp?) who is in the Parkway Center (where Castle Remedies is). A really neat guy, we agreed philosophically, but he was never in on the days my first child got sick. So we moved to... Dr. Dumont, who has a great reputation and is even open on Saturday mornings, but is not nearly as flexible about things these days as he probably used to be. In fact he *basically* said he'd stop treating our children if I didn't vaccinate my kids (because he was in the middle of a lawsuit, and because I think he was bringing someone new into the practice - so this was somewhat understandable). They did prescribe cold medicine and antibiotics instead of remedies so we moved again to the offices of... Dr. Molly McMullen-Laird and Dr. Quentin McMullen and we are SO happy! They have a patient organization call CSAM (Community Supported Anthroposohpical Medicine - that's what you'll find in the phone book). They've successfully treated all our childhood illnesses with remedies. Anthrosphosophical medicine is one of Rudolf Steiner's ideas. You can probably learn more about it on the net - I'm still not good at explaining it! (They are located right next to the Parkway Center). One caution though - their speciality is not pediatrics, so they'll warn you about this up front.
  • My osteopath/acupuncturist, Jay Sandweiss, is excellent, but I don't think his practice is accepting new patients. However, he's had a couple of doctors intern with him over the years, and I know his office refers patients to them. You could try giving Jay's office a call for info at 995-1880.
  • Dr. Kathleen Dvorak at Complete Chiropratic and Massage Therapy, off Hogback, near Washtenaw Ave. She really is wonderful! (and she was my second Chrioprator--the first only used the activator, and it just never really worked. Dr. Dvorak used a combination method that I was very happy with, and she also does some holistic medicine, and other energy techniques..) I also use Kirsten Mowry for Massage Therapy there.
  • I would happily recommend Dr. Dennis Chernin. He is a MD and a homeopath. He only has office hours M, W, and Fr, but has been very responsive in off-hours emergencies or pseudo emergencies (long story). He is in the purple house on S. Huron Parkway, shares the space with many natural-type docs and Castle Remedies, as well as a St. Joe's lab.
  • I have been taking my son to Community Supported Anthroposophical Medicine. Their office is in the building just next to the purple houses on Huron.

Doctors for Adults - Note that there are also some family doctors listed in the Pediatricians section of this page.

  • I really like Peter Paul. He is in a practice called Partners in Internal Medicine on Plymouth Rd, near Plymouth and Green Rd in Ann Arbor. I have followed him to several practices. The practice is reasonably small, about 5-6 physicians, and I have rarely had trouble getting an appointment quickly when I have been sick and usually end up seeing Dr. Paul. The wait is longer for regular physicals, but that makes sense. Since we don't go to Liberty Pediatrics, I don't have anything to compare it to, but we have been pleased with Dr. Paul for several years.
  • I really like Eliza Ostafin who practises at the U-M West Ann Arbor health center. It's a relatively small practise (3 docs--2 women and one man) and while I like them all, I have found that Dr. Ostafin is the best of the three--she remembers her patients and has always given me as much time as I needed. That being said, it is a busy practise, but she isn't one to cut corners if her schedule is packed. I'm not sure about your insurance plan because I have M-Care.
  • I agree with the previous poster regarding the doctors at U of M (west side). It is a small practice and the doctors there are very nice and patient. I never got the feeling I am rushed and the wait has been very reasonable (max 20 min).
  • I've been seeing Drs. Gill and Stalberg at West Ann Arbor, and Dr. Sandvig is my daughter's pediatrician. They are knowledgeable and friendly, although I can feel the press of time they are under sometimes, particularly with Dr. Sandvig. But I am satisfied and happy not to have to go to Taubman Center for a simple doctor's appointment.
  • Iíve been quite happy with the four doctors Iíve seen at Briarwood Family Practice. They are often so booked that it is hard to schedule a regular appointment, but I have never failed to get in the same day when I or my child have been unexpectedly sick. I like all the doctors that Iíve seen there and am also happy with the Family Nurse Practitioners. I donít see the Physician Assistant there anymore (if I can help it) but sheís the only one I avoid. Iíve seen Drs. Ruffin, Malouin, Gallagher, and Bartelme, the latter being my regular doctor. There is ample parking and itís right by the mall so itís easy to get to. Not sure what insurance they take, but they say they participate in "many plans." Itís a 14-doctor practice but it doesnít feel that big to me. I sometimes get put on hold waiting for an appointment, but I always eventually get to talk to a human.
  • I go to Dr. Rockwell at East Ann Arbor Health Associates. Although I go to the UM midwives for my gyn needs, Dr. Rockwell is great. I have been pleased with her services, and she is a D.O.
  • David Alvarez DO -- he's in the U of M system and quite good, as is his wife, Pamela Rockwell who I think may also be a DO. Both are GREAT docs.

Dentists: - first appointments are recommended some time between 1 year and 3 years, depending on who you ask.

  • We see Dr. Marilyn Dahms on Carpenter and she is very good with children. Both my children are more at ease with women than men. My son had a good first appointment. No cavities and no problems.
  • I have a friend whose 4 year old had to have two cavities filled. She used Dr. Kay Wilson and really liked her.
  • My son is 3 1/2, we haven't started going yet, but I would recommend Dr. Dennis Donoho at Washtenaw Dental Associates on Washtenaw near Hewitt, across from Murray's auto. He is great! Very gentle & reassuring. I've seen him work with kids. Good luck!
  • We use Dr. Ray Maturo, on the corner of Scio Church and Main and we love him. He really worked with us on learning how to brush our little boy's teeth and they seem really on top of when and how to get kids to take care of their own teeth. We have heard from several parents that they love him and his office. (Note: One parent on the list had a terrible experience with her child at Dr. Maturo's office.)
  • I see Dr. Carol Haggerty for myself. I really love her. I don't know if she works with children, but if she does, I am sure she will be great. She is soooo gentle with adults. Her office is near Lampost Plaza in Ann Arbor.
  • Go to my dentist! He is used by the U of M for dentist-phobic patients and neither of my kids, who have gone to him for YEARS (about fifteen?), are the slightest bit afraid or unhappy about dental visits, and this with a mom who is so severely phobic that I go into panic attacks and have been known to faint at the sight of the needle. Dr. Krasnoff is *wonderful* and his hygienists and the rest of his office are more than willing to do whatever it takes to make a patient comfortable, particularly a little one. There aren't that many toys in his waiting room, and it's a small office, but I don't think there's a better dentist for easing fears and doing a good job in the whole of Ann Arbor.
  • Dr. Farah and Associates are WAY wonderful with young children. They are located on the west side of town. I recommend them highly.
  • We went to a pediatric dentist, Dr. Kay Wilson and were thrilled with the experience.
  • I know some people have had a good experience with Kay Wilson, but I had such a bad one that I felt I should speak up. I'll spare you the details, but feel free to call me for the details. I go to a family dentist, Regina Dailey, by the way, and she is top notch!!! She is a dentist with an MD. Her phone is 734-996-0055. I have heard of others that haven't had a positive experience with Dr. Wilson, either. I much prefer Dr. Dailey - she is very competent and patient, and her staff and she have terrific chairside manner. She is also very tolerant of more natural approaches, if that is what you are interested in. I can't say enough good things about her.
  • We really like Wilson.
  • We have not had the experience of having cavities filled at the dentist for my son, however, I have been continually impressed by how my son's dentist explains everything they do each step of the way for general cleanings. My son is very sensitive to new experiences and people and yet, has loved going to the dentist and happily describes all the cute names they give to the different pieces of equipment. This last time we were there we made an appointment for my 22 month old also and my 4 year old spent the ride home explaining to his brother the fun he was going to have at the dentist. Again, however, we have not had to deal with the cavity experience. We have been going to Dr. Kay Wilson, pediatric dentist, and highly recommend her.
  • I thought Dr. Ray Maturo did a horrible job--not preparing either my son or me for what he was going to do, and treated my son like he was an uncooperative animal.
  • Our family dentist is Dr. Jeanne Lesch in Saline. We have been very happy with her. She treats my husband, myself, and our five year old son. My toddler has had some dental problems, so he was referred to a pediatric dentist. In my experience, Dr. Lesch is very gentle.
  • A few months ago, I went to Regina Dailey, at the recommendation of one or more people on this list. I needed a regular cleaning, and I was told to bring Charlie (age three) with me, so he could see what it's like. Next time we'll both have a cleaning. It was a very positive experience. The hygienist was very chatty with my son -- a relief to me to not have to answer her questions with her hands in my mouth, something I've always disliked about getting a cleaning. She even let my son help her with taking my X-rays (he got to to push the button). When I was done, she asked him if she could look in his mouth, and she was very gentle and showed him the mirror tool before she put it in his mouth. By the time the dentist came in to see me, we had been there a very long time, so my son was getting pretty antsy. The dentist asked him if he like to dance, and when he said yes, she told him that she just needed a few minutes with mommy and then she would dance with him. True to her word, when she was done with me, she turned on a radio on the room and the two of them danced around for a couple of minutes! Another thing I liked about the practice: There were washcloths in the bathroom for drying hands -- an indication of environmental consciousness. 996-0055 - 221 N. Ingalls
  • We went to Dr. Wilson, and had a very good experience. However, she did recommend a treatment that seems to be overkill, so we are getting a second opinion from Arnold Morawa - 3100 E Eisenhower Pkwy - 971-3368. He was very highly recommended to my by another mother who has taken her son there for a long time. He is not listed as a pediatric dentist in the phone book, but his office does indicate that he is one.
  • I took my 2 1/2 year old for his first visit to the dentist yesterday, and to my surprise, it was a great success! The hygienist knew exactly how to make everything interesting and fun. She directed all of her instruction and conversation right at him. First she had him sit in the chair, and explained to him how it worked. Then she gave him a large model of a set of teeth and showed him how to brush them with an enormous tooth brush. Then she showed and demonstrated some cool tools - the water squirter and the little water vacuum. That was a huge hit, and we had to squirt water and vacuum it out several times. Then came a demonstration of the "tooth tickler" (tooth polisher), and, if you can believe it, he allowed her to polish all his teeth. Then she let him pick out his own toothbrush, instructed him in the proper method of brushing his teeth, and sent him home with a sticker and a ring. The amazing thing about all of this is that we have been trying unsuccessfully to brush his teeth for over a year now. He is very stubborn, and we are lucky to get more than about 5 seconds of brushing in. We have tried all the tricks, with poor results. For some reason he was entranced by the hygienist and extremely cooperative. Normally he is very wiggly and talkative, but during the whole, fairly long visit, he sat quietly and listened. He clearly absorbed a lot, and the visit has changed his attitude, because last night and tonight both he demonstrated to daddy how he brushes his teeth (with my help). The hygienist's name is Margo Perry. She works for Kevin Schmidt and Newell Miller in NE Ann Arbor. Schmidt is my dentist, and I like him, but I cannot attest to how the dentists in that practice are with children. There is another hygienist in the office I do not recommend, especially for children. I personally find her very rough and a friend of mine is terrified of her. If you want her name I can provide it in a separate email.
  • Though not specifically a pediatric dentist we take our son (almost 3) to our family dentist Dr. Wennersten on Ann Arbor Saline Road. They are very very child friendly--our son has been going with us for our visits since he was born and recently had his first check-up.
  • We have been going to Rosalind Sarver, who is nice to kids. She does whole-family dentistry and as far as I can tell (based on my own teeth) is a fine dentist. W/ my 3 y.o.'s first visit, dr Sarver "counted her teeth", mentioned that it was time to lose the pacifier, and my daughter got a treat. Second visit, daughter got her teeth cleaned and a fluoride treatment. No frightened howling.
  • We went to Dr. Kay Wilson, who is a pediatric dentist. The office is all about kids, with a train track on the ceiling, toys and models (of teeth) to play with while getting your cleaning, a photo of your first cleaning with your hygienist, very friendly staff! I recommend them highly.
  • I would suggest trying to call Dr. Kay Wilson. She is a pediatric dentist in Ann Arbor. We went to see her with our 3 year old a few weeks ago and the office was very child friendly and they were very willing to answer questions.
  • My son and I go to the Comfort Dental Center (located in the Colonnade Shopping Center off of Eisenhower). Our Dentist, Dr. Paresh, is a very gentle man. The hygienist, Britton, is a wonderful woman. She is truly one of the best hygienists I have ever been to see. At my son's first appointment (just a few months ago) he only saw Britton. She was very kind. She let my son sit in my lap and dictate exactly which teeth he wanted cleaned. Afterwards, he got to pick out a new toothbrush and a toy. All in all, it seemed like a positive experience for him. He talked for several days about how he liked the dentist. I am hugely phobic about the dentist, so it is a big deal for me to be recommending anyone at all. The Comfort Dental Care Center is very low-key. The office is not the most glamorous looking dental office I have ever been in, but the people more than make up for that.

7. What are some activities for babies or small children, especially on a snowy day?

  • Tots Time - in the winter, play equipment is available to use Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the winter at the county building at the corner of Platt and Washtenaw. The cost is $2 per child, no charge for adults.
  • The Kids' Room at the public library is great for kids of all ages, including babies and toddlers. There are wooden puzzles, a dollhouse, a fishtank, huge collections of both regular books and board books, and computers with kid-appropriate programs. They have several regular storytimes, some in series' that you sign up for, and others that you can drop in to, and even some for babies. The librarians are really nice too! Located downtown at Fifth and William. Free!
  • Fantasy Forest has an indoor playground (great in bad weather!), a play kitchen area for kids, and a real snack bar (with lots of healthy kid-friendly choices!). Admission prices range from $1.50 for babies to $6.50 for kids age 3 and over. Located on Washtenaw near US-23. Owned by an ArborParent!
  • The Hands On Museum has dozens of things for kids to do, from blowing a huge bubble around yourself to seeing yourself on TV to playing a harp made of beams of light to seeing bees in their beehive or feeling fossils. There's also a preschool room with lots of activities, such as a water table and a fire engine that the kids can "drive", and a baby area with soft blocks. Located on Ann St. between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. Admission is $7 per adult and $5 per child (ages 2-17). Kids under 2 are free. A year's membership is $70 per family and gets you free admission for a year, plus free admission to 240 other science centers around the world.
  • Turn the kids loose to run around at Briarwood
  • Here's a page with 101 ideas for things to do with a toddler. The activities aren't specific to Ann Arbor, but they were written by an Ann Arbor resident.
  • The department of Rec & Ed has some classes for people of all ages, including babies, toddlers, and children.
  • Arborweb's listing of this week's family and kid stuff -- this is a good way to find out about story time at the local bookstores, science events at the Leslie Science Center, museum events, and more.
  • Send e-mail to the list to set up a playdate.
  • Go to a La Leche League meeting. They have weekly get-togethers of breastfeeding moms and pregnant mothers-to-be. Free. Babies and toddlers are welcome.
  • See the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, located at North University and East University. Admission is free.
  • The YMCA runs a variety of classes for babies and toddlers (swim classes, tumbling classes, etc.) that run in 4 to 8 week cycles throughout the year. Their pool is reputed to be particularly good on safety issues.
  • The Ann Arbor Art Center, downtown, offers classes for children. Just be sure the class is really and truly geared for your children's ages. I once took my son, then about 14 months, to a class the Center said was geared for kids ages 1-3. It was a disaster! The room was filled with delicate handblown glass vases, and the children were expected to paint a picture with a paintbrush on a piece of paper. The older kids did fine, but I ended up chasing my paint-smeared son all over the room while he tried to paint the other KIDS. I asked for--and received--my money back!
  • My son took an art class he enjoyed very much through the Ann Arbor Public Schools Community Recreation and Education last summer. It met at the Eberbach Cultural Arts Building in Burns Park, Ann Arbor. There was one for 3 - 5 year olds, and one for K-1. He took the one for younger kids and enjoyed it a lot, but I think a 5 year old could also have taken the older one. It would be obvious from the catalog which one it was. They discussed famous artists and then did art projects based on the artist's style. Of course, Picasso was included, and some others. They worked with a variety of materials and he had a great time! And he came home with some fairly impressive projects. I thought the teacher did a good job of supporting him.
  • Go to the Ann Arbor Airport. One mom reports that her son LOVES this, and they've even had a pilot notice his enthusiasm and offer to give him a "tour" of his plane!
  • Go to Michigan Stadium, which is sometimes open to the public.
  • Join the Kids Go Blue Club for free admission to lots of U of M sporting games.
  • Visit the Domino's Petting Farms to see lots of real live animals. Open year-round. $3.50 per adult, $3 per child (ages 2-12), children under 2 are free. One mom writes: I second the Domino Farms idea. My two year old loves the place and it is also a big hit with his grandparents. It would be a good idea if the weather is good. Last time we were there we took pictures of the different animals and put them into an inexpensive photo album. It is one of my son's favorite books. He loves to "read" it and discuss all the different animals we saw. Another mom writes: They have pony rides. We bought a family membership last year and went almost every weekend. They've got lots of friendly farm animals and a ton of ducks and geese you can feed. They also have hay rides that are part of the cost of admission. Two-year olds get a huge kick out of the place, and it's not too boring for parents, either.
  • The Little Farm at Kensington Metropark (no admission for the Farm itself, just per-car for the Park with cheap annual passes; they also have a hay ride at the farm that you can buy tickets for). In the spring there are many baby animals in the barn. One family reports that they saw two litters of baby pigs, two pairs of twin goats, a lamb that was only 1 hour old and wobbling around on its shaky legs, and plenty of baby chicks. And there are also lots of nice spots to picnic near the lake or take a walk.
  • Visit the large Cabela's showroom by Dundee. (Take 23 South to the Dundee exit--you can't miss it). One mom writes: It ended up being a great place for our 2 1/2 year old, plus my 9-year-old niece loved it too. They sell clothes and gear for hunters and fishermen. The showroom has an amazing aquarium featuring freshwater gamefish. It rivals some I've seen at educational aquariums. It also has a brook running through the sales floor, with salmon racing up the stream, and several displays of taxidermy, including a mountain scene with a waterfall, and an African savannah with elephant (really!) and other African animals. Not everyone is keen on looking at dead animals who have been shot for sport, but on a boring winter afternoon it was fine entertainment. It is a store, of course (a huge one) but you don't have to buy anything. Loads of people go just to look at the displays. It takes about 25 minutes to get there.
  • Visit the Toledo Zoo (approx. 45 minutes from Ann Arbor) or the Detroit Zoo.
  • The Toledo Art Museum has a children's room. It's like a big playroom with tons of activities. It's a fantastic place to take your kid to unwind after being in the museum. It's very family-friendly. Parents have to stay with the kids (it's not a daycare center).
  • Visit The Scrap Box to buy some recycled odds and ends for crafts projects. Some things you can find here: wallpaper scraps, cardboard tubes, foam cylinders, and thread spools.
  • Visit the Mothering Arts Support Group from New Moon Midwifery and the Center for the Childbearing Year on Brooks St. on Thursdays from 11am-1pm. One mom writes: My son (20 mos.) and I were faithful participants for many months. I was so grateful to have a large group of like-minded mothers, where homebirths were common and there were discussions of all the touchy topics I didn't dare to open my mouth about in other groups (co-sleeping, vaccines, alternative medicine, etc.). I find it very generous of Mickey and Merilynne of New Moon Midwifery to host this group and to open it up to anyone in the community, not just their clients. My son and I only stopped going this year when I noticed that it was a group really more suitable for young babies and for older children who would not accidentally step on the young babies! The only other downside was that the space was not childproofed enough for us - some other children my son's age were fine, but my son tended to get into mischief. I hope we can go back when my son is a little older. Mickey and Merilynne and their apprentices were so welcoming, and I found many of the short presentations that were given regularly very helpful.
  • There's a fantastic room for the younger set at the COSI in Toledo. Many hands-on activities and much larger than our own little Hands-On here in Ann Arbor. The good news for those of us who are Hands-On Museum members -- your admission is free through their reciprocal admission program! Worth the hour drive.
  • The Humane Society might be a bit crowded and noisy, but could be an interesting place to visit.
  • One mom writes: I have heard there are some dairy farms open for kids to visit (complete with ice cream cone at the end). Does anyone know about this?
  • Tiny Tots at Leslie Science Center is on the second Friday of each month from 9:30 - 11:00 am. It costs $6 per child.
  • Go to Generations or White Rabbit toys or Toys R Us, where your child can play with the trains and such.
  • Getting out ourselves, even to a non-kid focused activity, helped a lot (either when he as asleep or quietly playing). Some places, like the Asian bakery, or Zingermans, or some coffee shops, seemed like easy places to have a baby playing in a carrier and have an interesting new surroundings. I kind of liked being around other friends with and without children-- baby care didn't seem like work, just like part of the fun. All alone with my baby, I felt like I needed to "entertain" all the time...even with my husband at home.
  • Washtenaw County Recreation Center runs a variety of programs for babies and toddlers (swim classes, tumbling classes, etc.) that run in 4 to 8 week cycles throughout the year.
  • Visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens -- outside gardens and walking trails are free, fees for Conservatory.
  • Visit Silver Lake -- good for toddlers, small beach, changing tables in bathrooms, concessions.
  • Visit Rolling Hills Water Park -- better for older children (must be 36 inches to ride slides), also a wading pool for babies, changing tables in bathrooms, concessions.
  • Elbell Field -- The Michigan Marching Band practices there at night during football season. The public can watch and listen for free.
  • Visit the Farmer's Market.
  • Gymboree offers various local classes for babies from birth to 5 years. They have play gym classes, music classes, art classes, and they do birthday parties. In Ann Arbor they are located near the airport. 214-3770.
  • You can hang out by the fountains and ramps at the mall once your child is mobile. Also-- you can go to OTHER malls, elsewhere. Some have play areas and lots of people and small children around. You can use them as indoor playground a 40 minute drive away. (Recommendations, anybody? Please e-mail Valerie!)
  • You can take a baby to various free events around town (the public library story time for babies, the story times at the bookstores).
  • Gari Stein is reported to offer excellent music classes.
  • First Steps Washtenaw offers playgroups and classes for all children, and extra support for low-income families. They have big playrooms and a variety of classes for kids age 0-5. There are even some classes intended for dads to bring their kids to. The people in the classes there tend to be from a very diverse variety of ethnic backgrounds. If you have concerns about your child's development, they have trained people who you can request to do a special assessment of your child, optionally in your home.
  • The Jewish Community Center has a kids Shabbat which is very nice on Friday mornings, open to the public. Other churches/temples/etc surely have such things too. Even if you're not religious, your child may truly enjoy the music.
  • Star Southfield Theater offers a ReelMoms program. (If you follow the link, note that it lists movies in many cites, not just Southfield.) Moms can expect a dimmer theater with just enough light to care for the baby, lowered sound that won't disturb children, healthy snacks along with the traditional popcorn and candy, play areas, changing tables, a stroller check and other baby-friendly bonuses. The mom-centered program also gives women a chance to socialize with other moms before the movie, hear guest speakers who will give expert advice and participate in mom and baby contests and giveaways. Films are shown every Tuesday. Adult tickets are $6. Babies get in free. (248) 372-2222
  • Go berry picking! A favorite is Makielski Berry Farm - 7130 Platt Road, (734) 572-0060. Raspberries from early August through October. Children welcome. Raspberry honey also available. Berry patch is insecticide free.
  • A mom writes: The JayCees run an annual carnival in the Pioneer High School parking lot, corner of Main and Stadium. Ample parking. You really want to take the little ones and go. I prefer to go either early or late, because of the heat, but everyone has their own tolerances. Bring your own water bottles though. I've been going to this carnival every year for 30 years or so... and over time it has really evolved to the point where you see more and more families with small children, even well into the night. It impresses me no end that the carnival has retained its small-town feel but provides endless enjoyment. My son did like Disneyland, but it did not compare to the enjoyment he got from the carnival. tip: buy your child the armband for $14, it will pay for itself very quickly.
  • A mom writes: If you like the Pi-Hi Carnival you will probably LOVE the Chelsea Fair... in August some time. It has a small midway and lots of kiddie rides plus the kinds I will never go on. Also tractor pulls, bunnies, and you can even get a spaghetti supper. It's set up on grass so it doesn't seem as sweltering as the Pioneer fair, but all in all the 2 are pretty similar. It's a summer highlight for us; I highly recommend it!
  • And of course there's Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Henry Ford Museum is a collection of all things automotive. Greenfield Village is Henry Ford's collection of famous buildings -- Thomas Edison's lab, the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop, and so on, all moved there piece by piece from their original locations. Plus a farm. Plus craftspeople demonstrating crafts such as glass blowing.
  • A mom writes: If you have kids age 5 and above, I can't say enough good things about the guys at the Ann Arbor Music Center. They teach guitar, bass and drums, as well as lap steel guitar and mandolin and ukulele, too. I have taken guitar lessons there for over a year, and they are terrific. I've tried guitar on and off all my life and never found a good teaching experience, and this has been totally different. In fact, for the older kids (8 years and older) they have a Rock Band School where the kids take a private lesson 1X per week, and then they meet up for a group lesson and learn what it is like to play in a band. They focus on all different genres of music cover tunes - classic rock, funk, blues, etc. Last time I was there, they were working on "Back in the USSR". These kids totally love it! They are located on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. If you are interested, you can reach the owner Alex Johnson at 734-665-0375 or or check out their web page. Tell him Cindy sent ya!
  • Cobblestone Farm has a nice annual Halloween party with crafts, costume prizes, and tours of the Cobblestone Farm house.
  • The Summit at the Park in Canton: The indoor pool area would be a great indoor activity for the winter. It has a large kiddie pool, that starts at zero depth and is about 3 feet at the deepest end, with sprinklers, fountains etc. They also have a lazy river and water slide. My kids are too young for the slide but they enjoyed the pool and the lazy river. The pool area is quite big and is surrounded by wall-to-wall windows letting in a lot of natural light. They also have family locker rooms, with changing rooms with doors. There was a banner on the wall showing that they had won a lot of safety awards. I noticed that there were a lot of lifeguards. It is $12/adult for non-residents (of Canton) and $4 for kids over four. So it is pricy but worth beating the winter blues.
  • There is an indoor water park in Wayne too.
  • Spend time at Nicholson's Bike Shop on Jackson Rd. and sit on all the four wheelers! (the most favorite activity for my son!!)
  • The McDonald's on Zeeb Road is great for toddlers and littler kids due to the low climbing structure.
  • Shop at Ruelig's on Island Drive Road through Dexter... huge old farm market with tractors.
  • Jungle Java in Canton has amazing indoor climbing structures.
  • The Compass Cafe in Plymouth is an indoor playground similar to Jungle Java. 734-455-5100
  • Mack Pool has family swim times.
  • Riding the UM bus in a very large circle up to north campus and back, to the exhibit museum bus stop... we have done that twice, and it was very well received (yet a little long.)
  • The Depot Museum in Saline is worth a visit for young train lovers. It is very small and obscure - but it has a real caboose that is outfitted as an old-timey caboose really would have been - with the conductor's desk and bunk and stuff... and there are some exhibits inside the building. Not spectacular or slick or flashy - just some interesting old train stuff. My older son really enjoyed climbing on the caboose and imagining what it was like to be on one.
  • "The Link" makes for a nice cheap bus ride. It's the relatively new AATA bus system that runs around downtown, kerrytown, and key campus areas. Only $.25 and kids under 5 are free. We did that the other night after my son's martial arts lesson and he loved it. Plus I liked upping their ridership because I think it's a really good addition to the AATA system.
  • The Activities for Children page on arborweb has some more ideas.

8. What are some good playgrounds?

  • Allmendinger Park (on Pauline) has two kinds of baby swings, and lots of sand.
  • A longer drive away is Mill Pond Park in Saline. It's got a fabulous "castle" playground for all ages, mostly gated in, as well as a nice stream with a bridge for playing pooh-sticks.
  • Our daycare provider lives across the street from a small park, but it's got a nice sandbox (bring your own toys) and some good baby swings. It's Meadowbrook Park, which you can to via North Brook or via Seventh Street (take it south until it ends). It always has kids in it, and the other parents are generally friendly. In fact, I often wish we lived in that neighborhood.
  • While not a playground per se, we've spent many many hours on U-M campus with our child. On the weekends it's pretty tame, and you can enjoy huge expanses of space without worrying about cars. There are flowers, grass, squirrels, fountains, etc. Our son always liked to walk along the wide raised concrete borders of the flower beds.
  • Eberwhite School has an amazing playground that is open to the public in the evenings and on weekends. The playground has a huge wooden "castle" for kids to climb on. It seems much more toddler-safe than many of the local public playgrounds.
  • When our son wasn't too sure on his feet, we tried to go to playgrounds with good sandboxes. We brought some sandbox toys and didn't worry too much if he fell. Burns Park has a good sandbox (and some pretty good jungle gyms for small folks).
  • Also the park on Stadium in front of Woodbury Gardens apts (next to Kroger - can't remember the name) is entirely in a sandbox (but the jungle gym (except for the ramp) is a bit too tough for small folks).
  • Another really, really good playground that is quite a drive away is in downtown Brighton - they have the most fantastic jungle gyms - easy steps for kids and absolutely huge - good for climbers. It's about a half an hour drive from Ann Arbor though.
  • We like the park on the west side of town, off of Argyle Crescent (take Miller to Saunders and go north to second left). It has a great toddler structure, grassy areas, sandbox, toddler swings, plenty of kids there.
  • I like Delhi Park. Right by the river, so you can feed the ducks and such, and has a big ship thing in the playground area that most kids can start to navigate.
  • My favorite park to take my kids is the one on the intersection of of Plymouth & Broadway on the northeast side of town. I find it very calming and so do my girls, a bit surprising because it is right next to Plymouth road. There is a little brook that trickles by that we like to sit and toss pebbles in. The play structure is easily navigated by even a barely walking toddler. There are plenty of old trees to provide shade, and a couple of pizza places & a Chinese restaurant nearby from where we often get our picnic lunch - usually have it delivered to the park. It is a very small park so I can stay in one place and still keep an eye on both kids. It has a very simple structure and swings so it is probably the least fancy of all that have been recommended.

9. What are some gyms with good childcare?

  • One mom writes: I used to belong to the YMCA, but dropped my membership when I discovered how limited their childcare facility is. They only offer care for a limited number of afternoon hours per day. In addition, you have to pay extra for aerobics, spinning, yoga classes. Also, if you don't live or work close enough to bike/walk, parking can be another added expense. I now have a membership at One-on-One. The monthly membership is very reasonable, all classes & childcare included. The only drawback is that they don't have a pool.
  • Another mom writes: In the many years that I've been a member of the Ann Arbor YMCA (, I've often thought of switching to another facility for various reasons: the building is not shiny new (although I find it's being kept up very well these days), the pool is too small, the membership costs are too high for what I do (primarily swimming), and, most recently, the hours the drop-in childcare facility is open do not coincide well with the hours the pool is open for lap swimming. (During the week, that's only from 6:20-8pm, not a very convenient time for me.)

    HOWEVER, I've stayed because the Y has some things going for it that no other place does: location, location, location! It's the only place with a pool that is easy to get to without a car, since it is located right next to the AATA terminal downtown. The hours are also excellent - something like 6am-10pm. They never skimp on safety, something I haven't necessarily found to be true at other, much more expensive facilities. The Y is a very family-oriented place, although since my toddler is only 15 mos., I haven't had the opportunity to use anything except the drop-in childcare and the "Shrimps & Kippers" beginning swimming class, which is delightful! All classes (I've taken yoga, chi-gung, water aerobics) are very inexpensive to members. I like that the Y provides permanent, lockable baskets - it's even possible to hang a wet swimsuit from one. This made all the difference to me when I was swimming in the middle of a busy day away from home, not always at predictable times; it's a nuisance to carry all your workout gear with you as you go from place to place on your bike!

    A lot of people - especially swimmers - like the Washtenaw County Recreation facility, on Washtenaw. They have a beautiful pool and the membership is quite reasonable. I may reconsider a membership here when the Y moves to its new location at Huron and 3rd St. in a few years, but even so, it will be a tough decision. County Rec doesn't have childcare, as far as I know. There is now a bike path along Washtenaw and the #4 bus goes past, but I still prefer having a reason to go downtown to the Y - which also guarantees that I return my library books across the street!

10. What are some good childbirth classes? Each entry below is the words of a different person:

  • Birthworks - Melissa Schuster was an excellent facilitator for my husband and me. She focused on empowerment and knowing the hospital system as well as giving us lots of information on the huge variety of options for our birth plan. The birth plan we made while in the class was key to my positive experience. The doctor at one point in my delivery firmly told the nurse "Read the birth plan" when the nurse was bugging me about something. Melissa is a social worker and certified Birthworks teacher. She's very supportive and used a variety of teaching styles to help us: videos on natural birthing and breastfeeding from around the world, guided imagery exercises, music, humor, children's books. I highly recommend the course. We met in one of the participants' homes which was very comfy.
  • I had my baby at home and we took a childbirth education class based on the book Birthing From Within that others have mentioned. I really liked it, and got a lot out of it. The class focuses more on the laboring mothers' experience of birth, and coping mechanisms, than on the step-by-step of what's happening. It also utilized a good amount of art -- drawing, etc. -- to work through any "stuff" you may have regarding the upcoming birth. I am NO artist, but I found it to be extremely valuable! Having said all that, as far as coping with the pain, I'm not so sure I really used any "techniques" while in the midst of labor.... just kind of hung on for the ride! I agree that a doula would be key if you are giving birth in a hospital or birthing center.
    The woman who taught our BFW class is Sierra Hillebrandt. I can give you her number if you'd like. She's also a doula I believe....
  • My $.02: I took a birthing hypnosis class outside Lansing when I was pregnant (we moved back here about 3 weeks before my baby was born). We got involved in the classes late in the game (my husband and I both took them), so I never was successful at using hypnosis to "turn off the pain" the way the instructor taught. However, even though I felt every single contraction (!!!) during my labor, the hypnosis training kept me very calm, so much so that the labor nurses didn't think I was very far along (based on my outward appearance), and then checked my dilation and had to call the midwife in from her office, to use their term, "stat"! I was able to keep my body relaxed (forced it to, so I wouldn't tense up and be in even more pain) and my husband kept coaching me to relax my body muscle by muscle, which was so helpful. My "mantra" was to stay out my body's way and let my uterus do it's job ... and I had a great birth experience. Birthing hypnosis was the only class we took, except the standard tour and "training" from the hospital, which claimed to teach Lamaze breathing (that portion consisted of about 15-20 min max - bleh!). I read a ton of books on labor and delivery like I was studying for comps ... ha ha ha. Do I wish I would have taken more classes in real Lamaze, Bradley, etc? Don't know. But I have and continue to highly recommend birthing hypnosis.
  • Sandra Brown is a mom on the Arborparents list. She says, "I offer refresher classes for childbirth preparation as well. I'd be happy to send along my brochure if you like. I do not teach a method other than facilitating identifying your values, making informed decisions, and getting your needs met, having the birth you want."

11. Who are some good doulas? - A doula is a support person who stays with a mother during labor and attends to her needs.

Each entry below is the words of a different person:

  • I also highly recommend doula support. My husband and I are so thankful that we discovered this option. I had a frighteningly quick labor for a first child and being over 40. If we hadn't had Lee Roosevelt and Sierra Hildebrandt (who were working together at the time), I probably would have delivered in the car on the way to the hospital. I felt very safe and empowered knowing Lee was with me. We also had doula support when we went home which was also a godsend as our parents were in their 70s, 80s when our baby was born so couldn't help as much. We always recommend this option to anyone we know who's expecting.

12. Where can you have a good birthday party?

Each entry below is the words of a different person:

  • You can reserve a room at the Hands-On Museum for birthdays.
  • The back room at White Rabbit toystore can be set up for a birthday party. 665-1555
  • We love the Planetarium at the Exhibit Museum! Once we had my son's birthday party there and the woman hosting it was a docent for the planetarium, she gave us a personalized show. We have been going there for years.
  • Michael's hosts arts-and-crafts birthday parties.
  • The Scrap Box hosts birthday parties, where the kids make projects out of recycled scraps of various materials.
  • Summit at the Park in Canton has indoor pools that start at zero depth, a lazy river, and water slides.
  • Jungle Java hosts birthday parties where kids can climb on a big indoor playground.
  • The Compass Cafe is similar to Jungle Java. It's located in Plymouth, and it hosts birthday parties too. 734-455-5100
  • Several people report good birthday party experiences at Domino Farms petting farm. They include a hayride and other activities.
    My kids went to a party there one year in December. It was frigid cold out that day, but they loaded everybody into a truck with lots of hay in the back, plus parents had brought along blankets to put on our laps, so they drove us around the farm and talked to us about the various animals there. Then they brought us back to a barn, and a lady who knew a lot about animals showed the kids several animals and talked about what the animals are like. The kids got to pet a few of them. Then we went back to this one house where the parents of the birthday kids had set up cake and ice cream. We did the usual party stuff there -- eating food, opening presents. Despite the cold temperature it wasn't too bad to be outside for the hayride and other events. For whatever that's worth.
  • I dislike Chuck E. Cheese but they do a good job with parties - very organized and the service is excellent. (Warning: Their website makes noises when you look at it.)
  • I'm looking forward to a 3rd consecutive birthday party at Lazer Tag for my almost 9 year old. (Warning: This website plays loud music.)
  • We did a bowling party for the boys at Belmark Lanes (994-8433). They have a special couple of lanes that do not allow the balls to "gutter". Both boys and girls thought that was the greatest thing in the universe and it has been re-requested many, many, many times.
  • My kids have really enjoyed parties at The Scrap Box and Liberty Athletic Club. Both of those were really well-run -- I was very impressed. At a Scrap Box birthday party, the kids do several craft projects and then they get to choose some "scraps" to take home to do more projects. At the athletic club the kids got to go climbing in a neat indoor climbing structure with a ball pit at the bottom, and they played some basketball. The lady from Liberty Athletic who was organizing the party was amazing -- very connected to the kids, encouraging, clear, and just all-around wonderful. Note that Liberty will only do birthday parties for kids five and over.
  • My kids also went to a nice party at Wide World of Sports -- the kids played soccer on a huge indoor field, on a snowy day in the middle of winter. I don't remember an organizer for that party -- the kids just ran around doing soccerlike things and seemed happy with it.
  • First Steps Washtenaw offers birthday parties, and those seem like they could be particularly well-suited to the three-year-old set. They have lots of indoor climbers and riding toys and things like that. I'm not sure which things would be available to use during birthday parties, but it might be worth calling them up to ask more questions.
  • We've always done parties at home. With 3 and 4 year olds, they are still mostly excited about playing with what's available in your house and maybe doing a few organized games. The funnest home parties we've been invited to have involved a scavenger hunt and a costume party; the scavenger hunt is best for older children (i learned when trying it at a 3yo party! although i suppose it could have been simplified to work better) but costumes work good with 3s. There are a couple of web sites that have ideas for parties of various ages and themes (that is, reports by the parents who hosted them).
  • is a great resource for party ideas.
  • Q: I once heard of a child's birthday party where a woman came to your house dressed as a princess and had a tea party for the kids. Anyone know where I could find someone like this?
    A: My neighbor does these sorts of parties (Ballerinas, Fairies, Princesses etc amazing ideas that are beyond expectations.). Her business is Le Petite Celebration 913-5814 Nicole Bishop.

13. What are some other groups with related topics

  • There is an Ann Arbor cloth diapering e-mail list.
  • The Arbordads group is for dads who are located in or near the Ann Arbor area. (Dads are also, as always, a core part of the Arborparents list. You don't need to choose between Arbordads and Arborparents -- you are always welcome on both!)
  • There is an e-mail list called Ann Arbor Garage Sale, where you can buy or sell garage-sale type things, all year 'round.
  • There is an e-mail list called Ann Arbor eCycle where you can give away things for free, or request what you're looking for.
  • ICAN- International Cesarean Awareness Network Their goals are: preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, promoting VBAC. The Michigan group meets in the Ann Arbor area. You can check out the international organization at or the local chapter at (this website is very new and has very little info, so start with the international organization.)
  • The Michigan Electronic Library's Children's Resources section has everything from craft project ideas to homework help.
  • Ann Arbor Food is a place to talk about food, cooking, restaurants, and anything else related to food in Ann Arbor.
  • Ann Arbor Diaper Free Baby is an elimination communication (EC) support group in Ann Arbor.
  • CircleGame is for exchanging kids' toys, books, and clothes in the Ann Arbor area, either sold or at no charge.
  • ArborKidsAllergies is an e-mail list for Ann Arbor area parents of kids with allergies to food or other things.
  • Michigan Adoptive Parents is an e-mail list for adoptive parents in Michigan.