I knew after my first baby was born that I would need to get out of the house. I was already on the back foot as I didn’t do an NCT class but I was terrified by the pressure to make small talk at baby and toddler groups. Structured “Baby Classes” seemed the way to go. I’m pretty much addicted to education of any kind so the idea of learning something made sense to me. There seemed to be loads to choose from so it was hard to know which were the best baby classes to attend, here’s the lowdown on the different types and some tips on attending.
Tips for Choosing the Best Baby Classes
- If your baby is newborn then baby massage can be a great choice, especially if they suffer from colic.
- Once babies are on the move massage is not the best baby class, consider yoga instead, or even baby gymnastics if it runs in your area.
- If you want something that will help your relationship with your baby and they are over six months old, then baby sign language is a great baby class to choose.
- The best baby classes for babies who are sitting but not yet crawling are sensory type classes, you can still take them once they are on the move and they’ll still love it, it will just be harder work for you!
- You can start baby swimming classes from around 3 months and they are brilliant baby classes as they not only help your baby feel comfortable in the water, they help you feel comfortable taking care of your baby in the water.
- Musical baby classes are great at any age, as well as being fun the attend, they give you lots of songs you can sing to your baby at home.
Should I Take my Baby to Baby Classes?
It really is up to you if you want to attend baby classes or not. Your baby is not going to suffer if you don’t. Some babies enjoy them, some find them over stimulating. If we’re being honest, their main purpose is to give us something to do during the day with our babies to break up the endless nappy changes and games of peekaboo.
The Different Types of Baby Classes
There are so many different types of baby classes to choose from so here is a breakdown of the different types of classes along with some comments from people who have attended them to help you decide which might be the best baby class for you.
This seemed like a great idea at first, some gentle exercise and a chance to get Boy Child used to the water. It seemed worth the effort to shave my legs. The lessons took place at a primary school pool. Unfortunately, primary school pools are not designed for the logistical nightmare of 6 women and 6 screaming babies all trying to get changed at once. The changing space was communal so all the Mums were trying to discretely get dressed under a towel while simultaneously soothing a screaming baby who couldn’t be put down due to the weird plastic matts on the floor. It was an assault on both the ears and the eyes.
That would have been bearable, but Boy Child was a sicky baby. To their credit, the swim school were prepared. They had a man (the teacher’s partner I assume) at the side of the pool to hand out kitchen towel when a spit up occurred. After the first 3 times it was embarrassing. After the 10th, it was just exhausting. I stuck it out for the half term I’d paid for then gave up, promising I would try again when he was older. Which it turned out to be when he was 4 and could go in without me.
Some people have better experiences though:
“I highly recommend Water Babies. Yes, it’s a franchised business, but the swim instructors were amazing and the bonding experience of swimming with babies and toddlers is invaluable. Can be a little expensive to get the swim nappies, float vests and costumes to start with, but well worth the early mornings to start the day on a high with my boys.” Olly from Savvy Dad
Baby Massage and Yoga
Baby massage wasn’t something I got round to trying, although I wish I had as I could have used any help I could get with colic.
“I chose to do baby massage classes with both of my daughters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get off the waiting list until both of mine were rolling… and so they were easily distracted as well as causing a distraction. However, for my first daughter, who suffered from colic, it was a godsend. Either that or a complete coincidence! As well as that and the relaxing benefits, we found it lovely to meet other parents and babies of a similar age.” Vicky from Blossom Education
“I did baby massage with my first child and learnt some great tips for coping with trapped wind, colic and relaxation which I could then use on my second child who really suffered.” Emma from Emma Reed
Many mums who do baby massage go on to do baby yoga classes.
“I did mum and baby yoga and as a first time mum I found it invaluable to be able to chat to other mums of kids similar ages while at the same time doing something for me. The yoga was so gentle and tailored to new mothers and gave me an hour of pure relaxation even with my son with me. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend if you can find a local class”. Laura from The Mamma Fairy
Baby Sign Language
I loved doing baby sign language. I got to learn baby sign language and feed my growing addiction to nursery rhymes. Boy Child loved it too. It was the first sign of the “great enthusiasm” that I hear about at every parents evening. Most of the mums already knew each other so no one really talked to me very much but I didn’t care. I was happy to be doing something that both Boy Child and I enjoyed.
“Sing and Sign has been brilliant in helping my children develop early communication skills. My daughter was able to sign for ‘milk’ at 5 months and both of them had tons of signs under their belts by the time they were 1. It was an absolute game changer for us and massively reduced toddler frustrations and tantrums!” Lauren from That Happy Life
Baby signing is great because it minimises baby’s frustration as they are able to communicate their needs earlier. The only downside is that, they are able to communicate their needs earlier. This means they will communicate them non stop for all the hours they are awake. Boy Child’s first sign was “more” and he wanted “more” of everything. From milk to stories, from my food to the tv remote control. He used it for everything from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to sleep.
If you want something a bit different, how about baby gymnastics classes?
“When my daughter was 2 months old, I started taking her to a’Fun4Baby’ class at my local gymnastics club. Similar to a baby yoga class, we would begin each session by ‘warming up,’ singing nursery rhymes as we gently moved our babies’ arms and legs in time to the music, encouraging the development of their hand-eye coordination. The coach would then show us how we would be using the gym equipment that day, explaining how each activity would benefit our babies’ natural physical, emotional and sensory development. My personal favourites were always the classes when babies were able to hold the asymmetric bars – and I was amazed when my not-yet-walking daughter managed to hang from the lower bar by herself for a few seconds! As well as the large apparatus, the coaches always set out a range of activities on the floor area, designed to encourage the development of rolling, sitting and crawling for younger babies. When she was tiny, my daughter especially loved being rolled gently down a wedge-shaped mat, preparing her for rolling over herself as she grew. Baby gymnastics sessions were engaging for my daughter, and also both mentally and physically stimulating- she’d always sleep for ages afterwards!” Lauren from Outnumbered by Gymnasts
I did toddler gymnastics with with Girl Child but I actually think Boy Child would really have benefited from baby gymnastics as he struggled with a lot of the milestones that involved large muscle movements.
Musical Baby Classes
Jo Jingles is a large music class franchise that was very popular in my area at the time. When baby signing no longer fit our schedule, we decided to try it. We didn’t get off to a good start because of this guy:
He is the “Jo” of Jo Jingles and Boy Child was horrified by him from day one. The classes were very regimented with instruments being hand out with specific instructions for use and then counted back in at the end of the song. Boy Child quite enjoyed the actual classes until he learnt to walk at which point the very structured set up became a problem and we moved on.
Musical Minis was a much smaller operation and we basically chose it because it was close by and fitted our schedule. By any objective standard, it was a bit crap. The instruments were old, the branding dated and the classes very simple. Despite all of that, it was great. They had this section in the middle where the kid’s could just do what they wanted with the instruments (certainly not allowed at Jo Jingles) and the adults got to chat. This approach created a really relaxed atmosphere and we carried on until Boy Child started preschool.
The easiest way to get your babies their early musical education is to take them to the free library sessions. As I worked in the library I tended to spend 10 minutes doing the singing and then an hour catching up with the work gossip I was missing on maternity leave but other people were more diligent.
“We loved the library sing and song group. It was on for half an hour twice a week for babies and toddlers. They get the instruments out and sing all the classic songs like Twinkle Twinkle and Baaa Baaa Black Sheep. It was free and was a great way to meet other local parents. “ Laura from Things to do in Hampshire with Kids
Hartbeeps Sensory Baby Classes
Once Boy Child was at preschool, I had time to take Girl Child to baby classes. I wanted to try something different this time so signed us up for Hartbeeps. It was certainly different. The first song we sang was “The Change Time Rap”. It was an experience and certainly an indicator of the bizarreness to come. I found myself doing many, very odd things at Hartbeeps. Brushing a teddy’s fur with a toothbrush, laying on the hard floor of a community centre, in the dark, pretending to sleep and wearing all kinds of fancy dress.
Despite these oddities the classes were amazing. I was a bit put out when Girl Child lost interest and I found myself singing along with the songs, wearing a silly hat and giant sunglasses by myself, while she ran wild around the room. I’m not the only one who enjoyed them.
“We loved Hartbeeps when my boy was a baby. We found the mixture of sensory and play activities were amazing for his development. I loved it but completely insane. Maybe even stranger as the only man in the room at my local class!” Steve from The Diary of Dad
The Best Baby Classes if you have Twins
Now, if I have twins, there’s no chance I’d be going to baby classes. There’s no chance I’d be leaving the house. Ever. Helen, from Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee does in fact manage to leave the house with twins and has indeed taken them to baby classes, here’s her advice:
“Taking twins to a baby group is a whole different ball game to taking one. I loved going with my first, and would go to a different one each day, but it wasn’t the case when twins came along.
You basically have to be brave (or take someone with you!) and find the right one which has a leader that will help you. If they don’t, then don’t go back. I was very lucky that I took mine to Baby Sensory and Moo Music. Both of which I’d done with my eldest so knew the leaders and that they’d help me. They not only helped me in and out of the car before and after, but took one of the babies to demonstrate the songs with instead of the doll. This made it so much easier. I went to a few sessions of others and I just felt so uncomfortable and that everyone was staring at me that I didn’t go back. In hindsight I think the other mums weren’t actually staring in a nasty way, just a ‘good for her for trying with newborn twins’ type of way!”
Tips for Attending Baby Classes
- Don’t be put off if the first one you try isn’t great, there are lots out there so give a few a try before deciding they aren’t for you.
- Try to let go of your inhibitions, if you actually think about what you’re doing when you’re playing with babies in public you might feel very silly but you’re all in the same boat.
- Don’t worry about your terrible singing voice! If you think you’re really bad, just lip sync.
- Don’t be late, it will feel just like being late for class at school, but worse!
- Take anything and everything you or your baby might need, nappies, wipes, breast pads, bottles, formula, snacks, teething toys etc. Turning up with a bag the size of suitcase is normal.
- And finally, if you try a few and hate it, don’t go! Baby classes are not mandatory and your baby will in no way suffer if you don’t do them.
Now that the children are older I quite miss the classes. They still do various activities and I happily ferry them there and back but it’s not quite the same as when we did it together. At least I don’t have to shave my legs anymore.
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