At mommy and me classes, you can play, bond and move with your baby and toddler!
As a new mom, you can sometimes feel like you're isolated from the world around you -- stuck in the house with no one but your precious baby to talk to. But it doesn't have to be that way! Mommy and me classes offer a great opportunity to get out of the house and interact with other new moms. At a mommy and me class, you can play with your baby -- which is an important part of learning -- bond with them and get moving! Meryl Neiman, founder of Playdate Planet, says, "Children need play time because that is how they learn."
"As a mom, I loved taking my daughters to any class that I could," says Corinna Bittle, a certified behavior analyst and owner of bitKIDS Behaviour Consulting. "I loved having a specific reason and excuse to get out of the house. As a new mom, you need that. As a mom of more than one, you need it even more! Whether it is a music class or story time at the library, it feels so good for us all to get out, enjoy each other and be around other kids and parents."
Here are some ideas to help you choose the right class for you and your child:
- Tell Me a Story!
Story time is one of the most popular mommy and me classes, so you can usually find one easily at your local library or bookstore. Even better, story time is typically free. Story time is great for kids ages 6 months to 5 years old to foster a love of reading. Some libraries divide their story time sessions by age and have different offerings for babies under 18 months, toddlers and preschoolers. Check out what your local library offers!
- Make Music
Babies can respond to music before they can do many other things, which makes these mommy and me classes so popular. This is an opportunity to sing, act goofy and enjoy interacting with your child. One of the more popular music classes is Music Together, where families can express themselves and explore making music. Music Together offers classes for the littlest babies through the big kids -- from birth to age 7! Classes start at $188 per session.
- Get Artsy
Taking a child to an art class helps them develop their creative skills, and it keeps the mess away from your house! Ages and prices will vary by location, with a six-week course costing around $100. Art classes are available for little ones as young as a year old. The end result will be a masterpiece in your eyes.
- Go Swimming!
It's never too early to start swim classes for your child. Most swim classes start off as mommy and me classes, where you get your child used to the water and make her feel safe. It's important to keep in mind that teaching your child to swim is a long-term process. It involves a balance of motivation, skill and fun -- so the sooner you start her, the better! Babies as young as 8 weeks old can enjoy the water with you, while solo lessons typically start by age 3. A good place to look for swim classes is your local YMCA. The Y will have different rates for members and nonmembers, so check with your local branch.|
- Take a Gym and Movement Class
Gym and movement classes are great for toddlers. Places like The Little Gym offer a variety of classes, from age 4 months to 12 years, that can help your child gain coordination, build her gross motor skills and burn off some of that boundless energy. Your child will also learn that playtime can be healthy and exercise is fun! Tuition is $85 a month with weekly classes.
- Try Out General Mommy and Me
There are so many choices out there for mommy and me classes, it can get a little overwhelming. Gymboree has a wide offering of classes for babies and toddlers including art, music and "play and learn." Bittle says that classes are "a nice way to introduce children to routines, expose kids to new activities and people, give you ideas for home and a wonderful bonding opportunity."
Whatever type of class you prefer or budget you have you can find a class that's right for you and your family. "Some classes take place at hospitals or in other professional settings where an expert is on hand to answer questions on topics such as nursing or sleep schedules," Neiman says. "Others happen at local churches or community centers. What's most important is that the setting is safe for baby, and mom has some adult connection and support while bonding with her child."
Want more ideas? Try these 101 Baby Activities for Your Little One.
Stephanie Glover is a freelance writer who lives outside of Philadelphia.