The thought of attending a baby group can spark excitement and fear in equal measure amongst new mums. Some mums love the idea of getting out, meeting new mums and escaping their homes for an hour. But for other mums the fear of socialising with new people and of course the panic of the thought of their baby screaming in public is enough to make them stay home.
We explore the benefits of baby groups for you and your baby with some tips along the way for how to make the process a little easier.
Socialising - Mum
So one of the biggest reasons parents are put off going to new groups is the fear of walking into somewhere new and not knowing anyone. But actually, the vast majority of people at these groups are in the same position and in fact if they do know anyone else there… it’s most probably because they’ve been to other groups and met that way! All of the parents at these baby groups have one thing in common: their lives have recently been turned upside down by the arrival of their little bundle of joy.
So it’s really easy to get chatting to someone new as you already have that common ground. You will find yourself quickly chatting about lack of sleep, teething troubles and weaning issues. It’s really good to get to these groups, chat with some other mums and realise you’re not on your own.
Socialising - Baby
You can have all the toys and entertainment at home but there’s nothing like other babies to get your baby’s attention. It’s so good for babies to be with other babies early on. At first, so that your baby is exposed to sights and sounds of other parents and babies. But as they get older, socialising with other babies and toddlers allows your little one to learn about sharing, communication and relationships. Being around younger and older babies and toddlers can also help your baby to witness and reach more milestones such as crawling, walking and talking.
Get out of the house
As you may be realising, the novelty of wearing your pyjamas and lounging round on the sofa soon wears off. Having a baby class to attend forces you to get yourself and baby dressed and out the house. Whether you walk, drive or take the bus to the class it’s getting you out, a bit of fresh air and some human interaction. Yes getting out the house might take longer than it did before but practising the routine early to get to a baby class will help you to get more organised for as baby gets older.
When you’re at home all day with your baby it can be hard to spend quality time together to bond. If you finally get a moment where they’re content by themselves it’s tempting to run around and do some house jobs or finally reply to that text.
Going to a class allows you to just focus on spending quality time with your baby without other distractions. Some of your most special memories with your baby may well be from these baby classes where you were just able to sit with your baby and watch them learn.
Learn something new
From baby massage to baby sign language; there are baby classes for everything now. Use this time off with your baby to attend a class which you can both learn from. Before having a baby, very few of us will have done yoga with a baby so attending a class can teach you the skills required to be able to practise safely with your baby. Learning new skills and new ways to interact with your baby can help you to feel more positive and confident in yourself. It will also give you another activity to try at home if you find yourself and baby bored one afternoon.
One of the biggest benefits of baby groups is that you will get ideas to help keep your baby entertained at home. A lot of instructors at baby groups will use materials from around the home to create activities; this will allow you to mimic the activities when you get home without having to do an Amazon order for even more baby toys.
It can be really hard trying to keep a baby entertained when you don’t have any ideas but these classes will help you to see how you can quickly change things around to keep your baby distracted. A great idea we got from a sensory class was tying toys to a laundry basket with ribbon and sitting your baby inside- we tried it when we got home and my little boy loved it!
A lot of these sensory classes are based on baby and child development research. Your baby will be exposed to a range of colours and visually stimulating objects to help their sight, they will hear a wide range of music that you may not have played at home and they will get to feel lots of new different materials to help their sense of touch to develop. A lot of the sensory groups also do activities around smell and taste which is a fabulous way of helping your little one to develop these senses without you having to go out of your way to expose them to new items that you don’t already have in your kitchen.
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As well as the many sensory and music classes, there are many classes you can go to to aid your baby’s physical development. From swimming to yoga to tumble tots. These classes are led by experts who can aid your little one to progress from lying to sitting to crawling to walking. These physical classes will boost your little one’s confidence and allow them to have lots of fun as get more mobile and stronger. Swimming can be a brilliant activity to soothe your baby as they will naturally feel calm in the water.
Messy play without the mess
One of my son’s favourite classes was messy play- he was 6 months old when I first took him and he throughly enjoyed splashing in the bubbly water, rubbing cooked pasta into his legs and sitting in rice crispies before doing some painting. It was so good to see him get so messy but even better was the bath he had at the end of the class meaning when we left he was happy and clean and I didn’t have to tidy everything up. Messy play classes will allow your little one to have lots of fun and learn so much without you having to worry about cleaning everything away afterwards.
A well earned nap
One of the biggest benefits I found with attending baby groups was that my baby napped so much better afterwards! My little one rarely napped in the house day to day but after our Wednesday sensory class I was guaranteed at least 40 minutes of him being fast asleep which was a massive bonus to me. It can be overwhelming trying to fit classes around naps and feeds but if you can try to relax with it you’ll find that you and your baby will adapt to the timings of the groups and you should hopefully get some time to rest afterwards while your baby sleeps.
Of course initially walking into your first class might feel intimidating and your baby might well scream but remember that everyone in that class has felt just as intimidated at one time and their baby has certainly screamed at some point too. The benefits of the classes far outweigh any potential fears so don’t let your worries hold you and your baby back from attending a class. The chances are, in a years time when you’re back in the office you might really miss that baby sensory class!