You’ll know from baby W’s early days, we kept busy going to groups and lessons – they massively helped both of us so I thought I’d share my Top 9 with you.
- Swimkidz swimming lessons
I’m a bit scared of water, and I never wanted baby W to be… so he’s been having swimming lessons since he was 6 weeks old! We’re now on our 3rd term, and we’ve already seen such progress – he’s happy to be dunked underwater, he’s learning how to ‘hold on’ and he’s kicking his legs and splashing his arms around, and will happily push himself into the water! There are a few other bonuses too:
- we do the classes on a Saturday morning and so this is nice daddy/baby bonding time!
- baby W might be small be is quite strong – I can’t prove it but I wonder if the lessons have helped his strength?
- he enjoys bathtime and I wonder if that’s to do with the lessons!?
We now pay £90 for a term of 10 lessons, quite a bit cheaper than their main competitor Waterbabies (apparently the lessons are very similar). Swimkidz operate around the UK, find your nearest class here but there are also lots of other companies that offer this in Cardiff and the area – I’ve heard of cheaper ones running at Howells school, and Hebron Hall in Dinas Powys – it’s worth asking around and choosing the one most convenient for you in terms of day and location!
2. Baby Massage
Baby W was about 2 months old when I took him to baby massage classes at Funky Little Chickens in Cardiff. He was going through a grouchy phase (similar to colic) so I thought this would help. He would never lie still for the lessons, he was like the naughty baby of the class (!) so we didn’t actually get to practise much while we were there.
So why I am I recommending it? Well Fiona is a lovely, warm, soothing teacher – and she gave us handouts of all the massages, so I started using these at home. As well as focusing on different parts of the body every week, she also gave us massages for particular needs e.g. colic, colds, teething etc – these have all come in handy as and when we’ve needed them! She also took us through some nursery rhyme exercises – these are fab and baby W loves them! I’m sure similar things can be found online, but I learn best face-to-face so for us this was worthwhile 🙂 I think we paid £50 for 6 lessons. Again, there are lots of other options around, but I can highly recommend Fiona!
3. Mother and baby yoga
I’ve practised yoga on and off for a few years, including when I was pregnant so I couldn’t wait to try mother and baby yoga! Everyone I asked recommended Emma from Pure Yoga and I would definitely agree – she was fab! I took baby W every week from around 3 months old until I had to go back to work when he was 8 months old. Classes cost £32 for 4 (she runs classes in Bridgend as well as Canton) and last 1.5 hours – each class does stretches for mum, stretches for mum including baby, the baby section with lots of nursery rhymes, time for a chat and then time for relax!
This really helped my achy back, and baby W enjoyed the rhymes (when he was in the right mood!). It was always a really nice bunch of mums there and one of the things I loved most about the class is that ‘anything goes’ – because it was an hour and a half long there was always at least one screaming baby so you didn’t mind if it was yours! Now I’m back in work I really miss this class and I really need to get back into yoga!
4. Tinytalk baby sign classes
For 10 weeks from around 6 months to 8 months old, we did a course of TinyTalk baby sign classes (I think it cost about £50) on a friend’s recommendation who said it had come in really handy when her daughter was too young to talk but was trying to communicate. The class teaches about 5 words/signs every week, through singing and singing! Then there’s always a dance, storytime and singing which baby W loved – lots to take in! The second half of the hour is then time for babies to play with a range of toys and time for mums to have a cuppa – again, always a really nice group of mums and baby W loved all the sensory toys they had there!
Unfortunately I hardly remember any of the signs and I didn’t practise enough at home, but I might buy their book/DVD as baby W is getting into the babbling stage so it should help him communicate a bit easier 🙂 They operate around the UK and there is an alternative called Sing and Sign.
5. Totsplay – massage, yoga, baby sign and play
Confession – we didn’t do Totsplay so I can’t truly recommend it BUT I met LOTS of mums who were doing it who all recommended it and basically it sounds like a combination of classes 2- 4 above i.e. baby massage, yoga, signing and lots of play. I’m not sure how much it costs but I think you have to sign up for about 6 weeks or so. They operate around the UK – find out more here.
6. Mother and baby groups – Bambino’s and Jellybabies
From when baby W was about 3 months old, I tried to go to a mother and baby group every week – these are just informal groups where babies can play with play gyms and toys while the mums chat. I went to Jellybabies in Taff’s Well every Wednesday where a couple of friends would usually come too, this was a small, more intimate group. I’d go to Bambino’s in Danescourt every fortnight and this was much bigger – lots more toys, and lots more babies! Bambino’s has since finished but there’s another one in Danescourt on a Wednesday morning instead.
There seems to be a group running in most neighbourhoods – whether it’s through a church, or a breastfeeding support group. (I’ve heard good things about Thornhill new mums group, and BabyBeans in All Nations Church). They have a few plus points as well as the chance to meet other mums and the baby playing with new toys:
- cheap (they usually ask for £1-£3 donation)
- you don’t need to sign up – you just go along if you feel like it on the day
- Sometimes they might have ‘taster sessions’ where people like TinyTalk would go in and do a free sample – so you get to try classes before singing up
The main drawback is that lots of mums are put off as they feel anxious, too shy to talk to other mums etc. A few times I went and didn’t speak to any other mums – but I just played with baby W – it was a nice bit of playtime with no distractions like TV and my phone!
There’s a really handy list of all the baby and toddler groups in Cardiff over here at Single, pregnant and preemie’s blog
Now baby W is 10 months old and crawling about the place, he is ready to check out all the various Softplay places in the area – I heard that Jump in Llanishen, and Coconuts in Barry are both good for W’s age group… but so far we’ve only ventured to the lovely Canton community hall – not a softplay centre as such, but twice a day, every weekday they are open with lots of soft equipment for babies and toddlers to clamber over – we’ve only managed to go once but I was very impressed considering it’s just a council-run centre – we will definitely go again soon! Details here
Another local mummy blogger (Cardiff Mummy Says) wrote a guide to the different softplay centres in Cardiff – I look forward to checking them all out!
8. Library rhymetime and storytime
I knew that Cardiff central library ran these, but I didn’t go into the city centre much with baby W – so it was only a few weeks ago I took him to get his library card (and free pack of books!) from our local library in Fairwater and found that they run a storytime every Thursday morning.
We managed to twice before I had to start working on Thursdays, so gutted I didn’t know about it before – it’s within walkable distance, free and baby W loved it – a story, instrument and singing section and the chance to play with books!
Mums in the know lists most of these classes but ours wasn’t on there (it’s already so popular they don’t want to promote it!) so it’s worth checking with your local library to see if they run anything similar!
9. Messy play
This is ace – on Mondays and Thursdays there’s a class in Tesco Western Avenue where your baby (and you!) pay £4.50 to get totally messy for an hour – we got covered in baby-friendly shaving foam, paint, colourful spaghetti and flour!
It’s worth every penny if it means you don’t have to make this mess and clear it up at home!! Unfortunately we can only make it now if our swimming class isn’t running but we’ll try and go as often as we can – great sensory/exploring play! Jade Messy Play’s Facebook page is here and also we’ve found a new one since writing this – it runs every fortnight in Radyr, just outside Cardiff – the Creative little hands Facebook page is here.
Hope you found this post useful? If you did, I’d love it if you could share it with other parents on Twitter/Facebook, thanks! You can follow me on Twitter @yummyblogger
If you found any other useful classes and groups please leave a comment to help other new mums!