14 February 2017

HOT SPOTS FOR TOTS: Classes and Groups

I had my daughter Poppy back in September 2015 and after the initial flurry of the first few weeks of having brand new baby and bobbing up and down on tidal wave of visitors, presents and general overwhelm, I suddenly realised that I had to find a new way to fill my time. A slight feeling of loneliness began to creep in. Although over the moon at my 'new mum' status, I was feeling a little lost in this new lifestyle. So, I'm kicking off a series of blog posts called Hot Spots for Tots. I wanted to share my experiences of how I fill up my days with Poppy, classes we have loved going to, baby friendly cafe's and indoor and outdoor activities.  Everything I am sharing, is from our local area of North Leicestershire, however, most of these groups can be found all over the country.

So to begin with I'm going to be sharing my top 5 baby classes or groups.

Baby Sensory

I think Baby Sensory has to be our favourite class, we started going when Poppy was 10 weeks old, although you can take them pretty much as soon as they pop out. We kept on going every week until she was almost a year old.  These Sensory classes have a different theme every week. Each class starts with the "Say Hello to the Sun" song, which you sing and sign to your baby, then you are lead through a series of activities, designed to stimulate your baby's senses using music, lights, sounds, bubbles, touch. There's always a break mid-way through where you can take your baby to the 'exploratory play area' so they can have fun with the toys, while you get to chat with other mums and dads. Then it's back to the circle for more activities, such as lights shows, puppets, bubbles and parachutes. To finish we always finish with the 'Goodbye song'.  Poppy and I loved Baby Sensory, each class was different and our class leader Joules, was brilliant, she put so much energy and enthusiasm into each class, you really felt you were getting a lot for you money. It's a great way to meet other mums and it's also very useful for coming up with ways to entertain your baby while you're at home. Baby's are allowed to attend until they are 13 months old. On your final class, you baby 'graduates' and gets to wear a mini gown and mortar board. Adorable!

Baby Massage

We started going to Baby Massage when Poppy was about 3 months old. This was a six week class, which taught you techniques to massage and relax your baby. I think this is ideal for very tiny babies, at 3 months I almost feel Poppy was too old. This sounds ridiculous but she was already so alert and interested in what was going on in the world that getting her to lie down and relax was already quite tricky. However, the class was lovely. Our teacher, Sharon was really kind and took the time each week to ask us how we were getting on and how our weeks had been. Out of all the classes this one provided the best opportunity to get to know and make friends with other mums. I met my closest mum friend through this class and a number of other friends too, who I still see now, over a year later. This is a great class for tiny babies and a super outlet for frazzled new parents.

Baby Yoga

Similar to Baby Massage and run by the same people, Baby Yoga was the next 6 week course we attended. Designed to build your baby's physical and mental development, it helps to aid your child's balance, co-ordination and motor skills. It also gave us an mums the chance to have a good out stretch and chat through our week. Much of what I talked about with baby massage applies here too as some of the activities we did were the same. Poppy and I did enjoy the class, but I know Poppy did get more fidgety in this class, however, that's just her personality. I know some of the mums and babies preferred these classes to baby sensory, it's all just personal preference.

Jo Jingles

We didn't start going to Jo Jingles until Poppy was a year old. Although I should have gone a lot earlier as babies under 6 months can go for free. Jo Jingles are music and movement classes for children aged 3 months to 5 years old. This is fun, stimulating class, with lots of singing, music, instruments, bubbles and parachute activities. We did really enjoy Jo Jingles classes, each week has a different theme although I did find them to be quite repetitive, of course, for babies repetition is great but for mums and dads maybe not so fun! However, I would highly recommend this class and it's another great one for meeting new parent friends.

Mini Movers

We only went to our first Mini Movers session last week. Run by Charnwood council and held in the sports hall of our local gym, Mini Movers is basically just a big room full of toys and activities.For the first 40 minutes or so the children just play and explore the space and then for the last 20 minutes we all get together is a circle to sing songs. It's absolutely perfect for Poppy now that she's up and walking and ready to explore the world on her own terms. At £1.50 per session and no commitment to go every week it's exactly what we need right now and we shall definitely be going again!

Being a new mum or dad can sometimes be a lonely experience, but getting out there and keeping busy really is the best thing to do. I know it's not cheap going to these classes and we didn't find it easy to afford but it is worth it.

I'd love to know what baby or toddler classes you have been to and loved, please send me a message and let me know your favourites.