Dear Diary, Have you taken your toddler to a botanical garden? Well, I love flowers. I hate seasonal allergies. Perhaps that’s one reason why I never visited the botanical garden here in Pittsburgh. That changed over the weekend. This summer, Caitlynn and I are embarking on several staycations and enjoying everything our city has to offer–including Phipps Conservatory. So, I popped a pill, called up my friend and Caitlynn’s playmate and headed to the gardens to celebrate the day after her birthday. In my family, we party for a full week or more! I still wasn’t sold on the idea of gardens. First, I don’t have a green thumb. Second, I have Hay Fever. Third, I thought it would be a bit boring for a two-year-old. I always thought about visiting, but on my own–to meditate about the deeper meaning of life or to get inspired by the beauty surrounding me. Surprisingly, I was wrong–I hate to admit it, but I am wrong at times. After hours of exploring, Caitlynn cried, “No go home!” Now, I wish we went sooner. If there’s a garden in your state, here are five things you should take when you visit with a baby or toddler. More than a dozen botanical gardens are growing at Phipps Conservatory. So, multiply that number by at least ten. That’s the number of pictures you’ll probably take while walking around the attraction. As moms, we are usually the people snapping shots and not the ones in the photos. My friend and I took turns taking Mommy & Me pictures, so we could capture the beauty of both the flowers and our daughters. Many botanical gardens have water features, such as fountains and sprinklers. Caitlynn is a water baby, so she immediately ran for watering can. While carrying her elephant shaped pale from the fountain to the pond, she dump half of the water on her clothes. Phipps provided a magnifying glass, but pack one just in case the garden growing near your house does not. Caitlynn dropped her first one in the pond. It was shallow, so I fished it out. I showed her how to use it, and then she got a closer look at flowers, bugs and produce. We used our five senses while exploring the enchanted gardens. We smelled flowers and spices. We listened to the waterfalls. We watched the butterflies. We tasted healthy snacks. And we touched different textures. After Caitlynn made a lavender bouquet, I made sure to sanitize her hands. That way, she wouldn’t rub the fragrance into her eyes. My little flower girl matched from head-to-toe, but white wasn’t the best option for shoes. She stomped in the puddles, trekked through the mud and dipped her feet in the fountain. Next time, she’ll wear darker colored footwear. Even if the garden doesn’t have a kid sized produce department, you can still pretend play. Imagine you are a scientist, a botanist or a cave man. The trip to the garden sparked our imagination and ideas regarding gardening. I read the Runaway Bunny to Caitlynn at bedtime, to stick with the garden theme. We’re also planning to grow a herb garden in our kitchen. Hey DFTM Fam–Have you taken your baby or toddler to a botanical garden? What was your experience like? What advice would you give other parents? http://www.simplyrealmoms.com Erin Love it! Pictures are fabulous! Makes me want to take a trip to Phipps with my almost 3 year old soon!! firsttimemom It was wonderful! Planning to go back soon! http://lilburghers.com Becky Willis (@mrsgregwillis) Allergies are the same reason I haven’t gone! Now I will pop a pill and take my kids, promise before Christmas I will. Love the magnifying glass tip, too. http://curiouslittlekid.com Sara Ann I was there a couple years ago with my son and I was pleasantly surprised with how “kid friendly” it was. I think he’d enjoy a trip back. firsttimemom As you read, I was surprised to. Who knew!