One of the most difficult things about being a new mum is the loneliness and isolation. For me, it was totally unanticipated. I had several friends with babies and lots of family nearby so I was one of the lucky ones in terms of visitors but despite this I still felt cut off a lot of the time. Although this feeling was exacerbated by postnatal depression and anxiety, I honestly believe almost all mums feel this way at one time or another.
We live in a very different culture than previous generations; statistically we are having children later in life and by that point we are often used to active social lives, financial independence and successful careers. It can be a huge shock to the system to go from spending all of your weekdays in a working environment, with lots of other adults, to spending large chunks of every day at home alone with our babies. I certainly struggled with this. I had been made redundant during the latter stages of my pregnancy so I didn’t know if or when I would work again. I’d also commuted to London for work for 13 years prior to having Caterpillar so I was very used to the busy city environment and didn’t have much connection to my local community.
After Caterpillar’s birth I was completely shocked by how desperately I missed work. I had no idea how much it had meant to me until it wasn’t a part of my life anymore. And it wasn’t only the social side of working that I missed, it was the routine & familiarity too. Life can feel very aimless when you’re at home with a new baby and this was really unsettling for me.
The nature of my anxiety made it difficult for me to be alone indoors so I quickly aimed to find local groups and classes I could attend – to get me out of the house, to meet other local mums and to give my week some structure again.
I’ve tried all sorts but personally I prefer classes to groups. Lots of mums are nervous of baby groups because they fear it will be cliquey and my experience of baby & toddler groups has often supported this theory – it can be really hard to break the ice in this less structured, open play situation. However, classes are really different. Having a focus or activity for the group can help you to feel a lot more comfortable and gives you more of an opportunity to interact with the other mums without awkwardness. I’ve listed below my top five baby & toddler classes:
Check your local children’s centre, they usually have an array of groups & classes, particularly for under 2s, and this class for really young babies helped me a great deal in terms of bonding, getting out of the house and meeting other mums. I utilised the baby massage skills I’d learnt at home too which really helped me connect with Caterpillar.
Baby Sensory & Toddler Sense (from birth to 5 years)
Caterpillar did Baby Sensory from three months to just under a year. It’s a really lovely class which involves singing and signing, as well as lots of interactive sensory play including sounds, colours, lights and textures.
Jo Jingles (from 3 months to 7 years)
This is a really popular franchise. We only attending this one for a few months due to other commitments but Caterpillar really enjoyed it. As the title suggests, this class is all about music. The children are shown how to use various instruments and learn about sounds, rhythm, pitch etc through play. This is a very noisy and sometimes wild class, I’ll warn you, but a lot of fun.
Hartbeeps (from birth to 4 years)
This class is creative, whimsical and somewhat magical for the children. Using puppets, songs, stories and sensory objects the class takes the children through a different theme each week and ends in a beautiful “quiet time” moment where the lights go low, the children are given special blankets to lie on and stars and patterns are projected onto the ceiling. Parents are encouraged to lie down with their little ones and I always found this to be a lovely bonding experience.
Talking Tots (from 4 months to school)
This is both mine and Caterpillar’s favourite. We’ve been attending for the last 18 months and plan to continue until he begins school. The focus is on encouraging speech and communication but this is all done through really imaginative play and storytelling activities. My particular group is very friendly and we’ve made some good buddies there.
How baby & toddler classes have helped me:
- Aided bonding, connection & communication with Caterpillar
- Gave me back a sense of purpose & routine
- Raised my spirits & gave me motivation during my depression
- Built my confidence as a parent
- Chance for adult interaction
- Great place to meet new people
- Helped build Caterpillar’s social skills
- Helped Caterpillar’s development, especially speech
Different groups suit different people and it’s definitely something you have to try for a good few weeks or even half a term before you know if your little one (and you!) are enjoying yourself, but I really recommend giving classes in your area a whirl, especially if you’re feeling particularly lonely or isolated as a parent.
Do you currently attend any baby & toddler groups or classes? What’s your favourite?
32 comments on “The Benefits of Baby & Toddler Classes”
I loved baby massage. It was so good to just get out and be part of a group all going through the same. I really didn’t like baby play though that’s where all the cliques were. Eventually I made friends though thankfully!
Notmyyearoff recently posted…Zouk Tea bar and Grill Cookery School
I did baby massage with both my girls and it was lovely. It gave us a reason to get out of the house. I’m sorry that you’ve found baby groups to be cliquey. I found this too when I started attending our local group so I’ve made it my job to chat to new mums and now it’s a really friendly group 🙂 #TheList
Lucy At Home recently posted…Farm Animal Buns for Beginners
Good on you! That’s so lovely Yes, completely agree re baby massage giving you a reason to get out. Thanks for reading xx
There were so many classes to attend and I found some of them a bit competitive and clique too. I actually found more like minded people at a group even though my first time there was pretty nerve wracking. #POCOLO
An imperfect mum (Catie) recently posted…Weekly Roundup #34
That’s the thing, every class or group is different and you have to just get out there and try a few out to find your fave. Thanks so much for reading and commenting xx
Its so different here than in my country and yes I have never felt so alone in my entire life. I came from a big fmaily and when I got here I only have my son and my husband and it was like that for years that its so hard for me to have friends. But I am trying lately and I think I am winning on it. Baby steps for me. #pocolo
Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk) recently posted…Birthday Week
Keep at it and you’ll get there. It can be very daunting, best of luck xxx
Such a good post, I never did baby classes with my first but we’re definitely doing them this time around. Just like you, I felt it very lonely and isolating, so I’m determined not to feel so this time.
Thank you. Enjoy! xx
I agree about preferring classes to groups – because a class is generally seeing the same people every week, I found it much easier to make friends. I went to one group and found it so hard to strike up a conversation with anyone I didn’t go back and another group no-one turned up except the lady who ran it! We did Hartbeeps and Sing and Sign which we both loved and would recommend to anyone! #MarvMondays
Hi Laura, My mummy used to do loads of baby groups with me, however she was lucky enough to have a great support network around her with the mums she meet at her 10 week NCT class. Groups can be clique and we preferred the structured classes and activities. xx #TheList #TwinklyTuesday xx Totally agree with getting out of the house! My mummy was so thankful to get back to work too!!
Baby Isabella recently posted…The New Ideas Zone at Weymouth SEALIFE
I loved Jo Jingles and Sing and Sign with my eldest, I loved the support from the classes and still keep in touch with some of the other mums and little ones now. Unfortunately I struggled to attend any classes with my youngest as my toddler was too old for the classes 🙁 Definitely agree with getting out of the house, it made a huge difference for me. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x
I did lots of classes with BB but hardly any with Little B which I feel guilty about as we’re just so busy with work etc. I’m going to try and do more with baby number three! #thelist
Crummy Mummy recently posted…Win tickets to The Baby Show at London Olympia!
So much I agree with here! I also found classes to be far better than the groups – you all start at the same time (ish), so you’re not already joining an established group, and so much easier to break the ice when there is an activity going on, so no awkward pauses throughout the conversation where you run out of things to say. We love our music classes – we do Monkey Music which is similar to Jo Jingles – we have a fab class leader and all the parents (and grandparents / aunties / nannies) are lovely and friendly. A big miss for us was the swimming classes, which my son hated and became a massive chore for all of us. We did two terms and then stopped. THanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove
Having a good leader and lovely fellow mums is what makes it, IMO. Thanks for reading and commenting xx
We loved baby massage and are just about to start A signing class. Like you I enjoy classes more than groups! #eatsleepblogrt
I used to take my first daughter to loads of baby and toddler groups as there were many about but when I had my second daughter, I was in a new place/village and I was too shy and suffering with anxiety and depression so I didn’t have the guts to join the toddler session group each weekend. Now I have my son I really want to join in with classes and mix.
Life as Mum recently posted…Kiddy UK Evolution Pro 2 Infant Car Seat Review
I’m sorry you suffered with anxiety and depression, I know from experience how awful that is xx
I agree completely how important it is but I’ve found it hard to stick to one. We did Jo Jingles for a while but my boy is very rambunctious and they got a little annoyed that he wouldn’t sit still (he is a toddler!) and others we’ve only managed one class before not bothering again. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo
It can take a while to find one that works for you, and it’s very annoying when leaders are funny about toddlers running around! Good luck xx
I didn’t get in with going to baby groups at all, I just find them too clicky. I preferred classes and did baby and toddler classes with both my girls. Plus I did swimming classes. I still found them hard work with talking to other parents. But at least there was an activity to be getting on with, so I didn’t real too awkward. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove X
Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Living Arrows 39/52
Yeah that’s definitely why I prefer them. Planning to begin swimming lessons soon actually. Thanks for reading and commenting xx
A great list of groups hun, I could’ve done with this when my two were babies. It’s so tough being isolated when you’re a new mum. Good for you for sharing such useful info. Thanks for linking to #pocolo
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Thank you, I hope it helps someone x
We are currently doing Tiny Talk (baby sign ) which is going well, it’s fun, and A seems to be interested (he’s 21 weeks). Started 6 weeks of Baby Sensory when he was just 6 weeks, he slept through first 3, and cried through 4th so I wouldn’t recommend going too early on based on that experience! Probably should have left it a tiny bit longer! Did a 4 week baby massage course through childrens centre which was good.. Might do Sensory again later on but can only afford one activity at a time, and id like to get him in a pool next ! We go to NCT Bumps and Babes too which is an informal group but good to get out and catch up with other mums and babies – I live in a small town so know a lot of other mums there, either from scool days or from having met them at our other activities, can always find someone to talk to!
Now my toddlers older I love Monkey Music and Tumble Tots
I struggled with finding a group where we could ‘fit’ our local baby and toddler groups were so cliquey, all filled with the same group of childminders who knew each other and didn’t chat to the newbies. I had PND and anxiety and it took a lot to go there, so it was awful sitting there trying to make conversation and getting the brush off 🙁
We did Sing and Sign with our eldest when he was a baby and then found our local Steiner parent and toddler group and felt right at home in the calm nurturing atmosphere.
There’s a group out there for everyone 🙂 I really feel for anyone who is feeling lonely as as new parent, or as a parent in general x
I’m so pleased you found a group that suited you in the end, cliqueyness is horrible x
The sensory one and the musical one sound brilliant – a great way to get out and about and meet new mums and I’m sure the little ones love the activities too
What a brilliant list! I wish we had known about talking tots when my Things were little.
I have an almost 4-year-old son. Is he able take the class or is he too young? Thanks.
He may actually be a little old for most of the classes I mentioned except for Talking Tots. My son went to that one right up until he went to school x