So this blog post is a low down of the baby classes I have attended during my maternity leave. We have attended so many different places for a range of activities, but these are regular classes that we have attended. I have been incredibly fortunate that one of my best friends had a little boy 14 weeks before I had Rory, so we have attended all of our classes together. I also have had other friends on maternity leave at the same time, so Rory has been able to be a sociable baby! However, I know not everyone else is lucky, but I feel that this is why attending baby classes is so important. If anything, it’s more important for you than it is for your baby. It encourages you to get out of the house, meet other Moms and so much more. I appreciate it isn’t always that easy, and I think I would have found it harder if I had to attend a class for the first time by myself. But please, if you’re an expectant mother, or a mom on maternity leave, be sure to get yourself out there for both yours and your baby’s wellbeing! Before I start, all of these classes are local to where I live in Tamworth, so check out your local centres for their own versions.
We first attended Musical babies when Rory was just 5 weeks old. He slept the entire time! For the following few weeks he would always sleep for at least part of the class! Hilary, the leader even renamed it the ‘Sleepover club’ at one stage! Musical babies is run at our local children’s centre, and there will be variations of its name depending on where you live. We have a jam packed hour and 15 minutes which involves lots of singing and sensory play! We sing lots of nursery rhymes and songs, and I’ve learnt a lot of new songs from going to these classes! The list of wonderful props Hilary brings with her is endless, but are all things you can purchase yourself for at home really cheaply. For example, we sing songs such as Hickory Dickory Dock, and This Little Piggy, using a feather to tickle the babies with - this is one Rory always loves! There is a lot of counting, clapping and repetition involved throughout the sessions, and Rory has learnt to participate in this. He knows when particular parts of the session are about to take place (including bubble time!) and can even clap his hands on cue in the song Wind The Bobbin Up, which is one of his favourites! There are lots of action songs where the babies begin to learn directional language, and songs such as Five Little Speckled Frogs, where they see the frogs come and go - it’s really interactive. Rory is normally seen with a musical instrument in one hand, then another in his mouth…he’s in a permanent state of teething bless him! What’s great about this class is that it’s structured, yet fluid. So if we can see the children are really enjoying being under the parachute, we’ll sing more songs there, or if we have any requests we can go off plan. It is definitely one that I’m going to miss when I go back to work, I enjoy it far more than I probably should! We pay £3.50 a week for this - it’s pay as you go but you have to drop Hilary a text message to confirm your place.
So this was a 5 week course that we booked onto, with the lovely Natalie from Love In Our Hands Baby Massage. This was held again at the local children’s centre, and Rory was just 8 weeks old when we began the course. It was an hour a week and we paid £22.50 for the course - £4.50 a session! We were in a small group of 5 so it was really intimate and we got to know the other moms quite quickly. Each week, we learnt a range of massage techniques for different parts of the body, building on what we had learnt the previous week. You know what it’s like when you have a massage yourself, as relaxing as it is, it takes it out of you! The first week we learnt just the techniques for the legs, and that was enough to send them off to sleep! It was so calm and quiet, and us moms got to have a chat together then for the rest of the session! When massaging the feet, we sang This Little Piggy, but an adapted version to suit the ‘massage’ class. As I said before, each week built on the previous, so by the final week, the babies had a full body massage which took up a good chunk of the session. As you can imagine, these sessions are pretty structured, but still allowed the time for you to chat with the other moms in the group. If you can get booked onto one of these courses, do it as young as you can. Firstly, it is much harder to massage a moving baby, which is currently what I’m trying to do! Secondly, as well as the massage techniques, we learnt techniques to support a baby who may have colic, constipation, or an upset tummy. I still use some of those techniques now and I was reassured that I was doing them correctly and safely. Believe it or not, we were given vegetable oil to use during our massages - apparently it’s one of the best things you can use for baby’s skin! This also meant that we could continue massaging Rory at home after the course without it costing us a fortune. I still use some of the techniques now, and I’m sure they’ll come in handy when I have to start applying all the sun cream in the summer - if he thinks it’s a massage he’ll happily have it!
So a couple of months after we finished our baby massage course, Natalie opened up her new baby yoga and sensory play class - the perfect follow on from the massage group. This again was a 5 week course at the children’s centre, each session was an hour and cost us £25 for the block. What was great about this course was that it incorporated movements for both you and baby, meaning that you felt good that you’d had a little work out once you left! The class always started with some simple breathing techniques. My favourite one is when you breathe in for 2 counts, hold your breath, then breathe in again for another 2 counts, before breathing out for 4. This one is great for when you’re struggling to sleep, and I use this most evenings to help get me off to sleep. I can guarantee I don’t need to do this more than twice before I start yawning! Each week we learnt a few simple stretches we could do with our babies, and Rory even did a tree pose with my support! A lot of the movements we for ourselves, holding our baby, so I had to learn to balance in tree pose with a baby on my hip, and squat holding him out in front - told you it was a good work out! Sometimes we’d try and incorporate some singing too. The second part of the lesson was sensory play, where Natalie would bring a range of different toys each week for the babies to explore. At this age Rory was happily enjoying tummy time and rolling around, waving the toys with his hands, as well as trying to eat them! This is where in the class we could have more of a chat as moms as it was less structured. I really enjoyed this class and hoped it would become the type of class which you could attend weekly, learning new movements, but I suppose I’ll just have to wait until Rory’s old enough to attend the toddler class!
So I first took Rory swimming at just 6 weeks old when we could see he was a bit of a water baby because he loved his bath times. In all honesty, I’ve never looked back and he’s been swimming at least once a week every week since. He didn’t start formal lessons until he was almost 6 months old though. We paid £50 for a block of 12 sessions at the Snowdome, which I think is a great price and far cheaper than anywhere else locally. We’re currently about 2/3 of the way through his second block and he thoroughly enjoys it. The lessons are very structured, and are fast paced to ensure that you and baby keep moving in the water to stay warm. The lessons last half an hour and is more than enough for a baby! At 10 months old, Rory will happily be dunked under the water and will lean forwards to jump in if you sit him on the side! He will kick his legs when both on his front and back and just loves splashing about! I will miss our swimming lessons when I go back to work, but I know that I can still take him myself in my free time as I can practise the same techniques we use in the lesson. We will put him back in formal swimming lessons once he’s a bit older as it is such an important life skill to learn. I will write a separate blog post about swimming with babies because it’s really not as scary as people think!
Use your Child Benefit to pay for your classes. You feel it doesn’t eat into your maternity pay then - or lack of!
Think about what YOU want to get out of maternity leave and baby classes - if you want to keep fit, try and find a walking group or keep fit class specifically designed for moms.
Don’t be afraid! As moms we’re very quick to feel like we are being judged as a mom. I’ve never felt like this in any of the classes I’ve attended, because you’re all in the same boat - the reassurance and advice you can get from other moms at baby classes is better than anywhere else!
Mommy Davies x