We are incredibly lucky to be living in an area in Kent that has a huge variety of baby groups and classes. You can give pretty much anything a go - from sensory experiences and music lessons, to messy play and swimming; whatever it is, you can bet there's a class for babies somewhere.
And, as much as the Firebug has loved going, these classes have been a great experience for me too. When I was first at home with a wailing newborn, I was desperate for structure and routine. Having a massage class to go to at 10am on a Monday morning forced me to get up, get washed, and get dressed when otherwise I may have been tempted to stay in solitary confinement, feeding the newborn all day.
Now the Firebug is walking, he's outgrown a lot of these classes, and it feels a little bit like the end of an era for me, so I thought I'd share with you some of our favourites to hopefully inspire others to go along to a few too.
Daisy Baby™ is a unique, all-inclusive combination of positive touch, movement, education and support.
I stumbled across the Daisy Foundation quite late in the day, and joined following to a recommendation from a friend; and I'm so glad that I did.
Tinies classes are suitable for your baby from around 6 weeks of age. They teach you a full body baby massage routine, including baby reflexology and also lead on to a gentle first introduction to baby yoga. There is also some focus on gentle postnatal movements for mums too! I know quite a few people who have introduced baby massage into their baby bedtime routines, and they swear it really helped with their little ones sleeping through the night from an early(-er) age.
Every class was completely baby-led, so there was never a need to worry about noisy babies, or needing to duck out to feed.
We went to the Daisy Tunbridge Wells classes which are led by Anna Hayes. If you are in the area I absolutely recommend Anna, she is lovely and really focuses on your postnatal care as well as teaching great methods for relaxing your little one. I particularly loved the tips with how to deal with teething and rubbing their little toes, as teething felt (and still feels) never ending in our house.
We loved our baby massage classes and I really miss that time I spent with the Firebug when he was really tiny.
Daisy is available throughout the UK, so you'll be able to find a lovely class near you.
Top Tips For Class:
- Bring some massage oil with you. Make sure you have tried this on your little one before the class so there's no risk of any surprise allergic reactions.
- We love Little Acorn's massage oil from PLANTiful because it is made from only the purest of olive oils, which makes it perfect for the youngest of babies and their sensitive skin. Each bottle of oil is infused with wild rosehip, chamomile and lavender, which smells beautiful so is soothing for both you and your baby. This is great to take along to your baby massage class!
- If you're looking for an alternative to olive oil, we also have our coconut oil from Kokoso baby, which is completely raw and organic. This oil has won numerous awards including silver place in Prima Baby's "Best Baby Skin Care Product" award of 2016. Up to three coconuts go into each one of these little pots. And this pot is just the right size for carrying to and from classes too!
When your baby is just slightly too big for Daisy Tinies and is a bit more "wriggly", (from around 4-5 months) you can move on up to the Daisy Wrigglers classes which are a bouncy fun, baby yoga class with sensory elements thrown into the mix.
The parachute was a big favourite of the Firebugs... He would happily giggle at that for hours as we lowered and raised it over his head. And then there was his second favourite... finding out what was making all that noise from inside "the box"!
All the yoga moves are performed to various well known nursery rhymes and I'm convinced that our time spent here really helped with developing the Firebugs muscle and coordination so that he was well on his way to crawling and walking.
Top Tips for Class:
- Bring along a slightly thicker than usual blanket for your little one to lie back on and relax through the process. Play blankets are perfect for this because they are slightly quicker and we love our Petit Pehr Hi Blanket as it's quilted so nice and thick and soft for the best yoga positions. See our range of Petit Pehr here, and our Noah's Ark blanket which is also proving very popular!
- Bring a little toy with you to regain your little one's attention should it wander. Something that dangles is a great idea, but anything bright and colourful will work. We loved the lamaze toys for all of the noises they made, so I used to bring one with me each week.
Baby Sensory is a wonderful class, especially if you have an amazing class leader like we have in Tunbridge Wells. Katie seems to be able to hypnotise the babies. You soon see a cluster of little ones forming around her as she holds their attention during every class.
Baby Sensory founder, Dr. Lin Day, is one of the UK’s leading parenting experts and a renowned author within the fields of sensory and childhood development. She developed Baby Sensory following over 35 years research into childhood development. Classes are full of a variety of activities, including play, massage, movement, visual development, hand eye coordination and music - all usually following a theme for that week.
Everything is designed to stimulate your baby's sense and help them towards their development milestones.
Along with the songs, there is a lot of baby signing, which I particularly liked. So much so that we even tried a Baby Signing class separately, but it just wasn't the same without Katie...
We love our baby sensory classes, and still go to them - although they are becoming a lot less floor based, and a lot more about me running around trying to stop the Firebug from grabbing at someone's face. I wish these were available for toddlers in my area.
As with the other classes, Baby Sensory is nationwide, so you should be able to find a class near to you here. I highly recommend them.
Top Tips For Class:
- The classes are split into a group sensory session and play session. In the play session, things can get quite active, with your little one encouraged to crawl through tunnels and bounce on hoppers. This means, clothing that leaves them free to crawl is really key, which is why we always wear leggings to these sessions. Leggings cushion little knees, and won't get snagged on anything or cause any tripping. You all know I love our Blade & Rose Leggings - you can see our entire range here. Perfect for babies on the move!
Another firm favourite, one that we have been going to since the Firebug was tiny. I did have a slight wobble when he was a few weeks and we were increasing the amount of time under water, but I'm so glad we came through it and out the other side.
The Firebug loves swimming and he loves the water. It's amazing to see how confident he is and it's all because of Water Babies. It still amazes me that although he's still so small, he knows to close his eyes and hold his breath before going under the water. He also knows how to hold on to the side of the pool and can actually pull himself out, which I think is amazing for an 11 month old. Although the classes are tailored to learning to swim, splashing, singing and having fun in the water, there's a serious aspect to this too, as the babies learn how to be safe in the water.
All Water Babies classes are at a local private pool, so it's warmer than the public pools which makes it perfect for newborns. Babies can start swimming from pretty much birth - although we weren't quite that keen. It took me a few weeks to recover first, and swimming wasn't THAT high up on my list of priorities, but the Firebug has been swimming from just a few weeks old.
Another great thing about Water Babies is the underwater photos. We had one of these after his first "Chapter" and we absolutely loved them.
Again, Water Babies are nationwide, so you can find a class (and pool) near to you here.
Top Tips for Class:
- Make sure you invest in a neoprene swimsuit with snug fitting nylon lycra ribs at the waist and thigh. Water Babies sell these, or you can get them from various other stores. We normally get ours from Splash About. You'll want to team them up with a disposable nappy. We use Huggies little swimmers and haven't had any nasty surprises!
- The Firebug has suffered with dry skin since he was tiny, and this often flared up after swimming. I've had to cover him in many different lotions and potions but found that the baby balm from PLANTiful really helped to calm down his dry skin. I always make sure to pack balm in our bag to take with us and use after every swim.
Sure Start - Children's Centres
I was very late at getting involved in these, but children's centres are throughout the UK and they host a lot of activities which are either free of charge or very reasonably priced.
I've found these particularly great for the Stay & Play sessions now that the Firebug is more mobile and keen to just crawl about, play with new toys and interact with the other babies. It's great for when he doesn't necessarily want to sit in a formal class environment watching the "teacher".
Again, these are nationwide and great for the community. Use them or lose them as they say, so have a look for local children centres near you now.
Top Tips for Class
- Take a form of distraction with you - especially if the activity you're attending is a coffee focused, mum-centric one and you need your little one to sit quietly for a short period of time. I come armed with all my Lara & Ollie teething bangles and necklaces as I know giving one to the Firebug will distract him during any tantrums, and focus him to the spot when I need to him to sit on my lap for a few minutes.
- Also following a similar vein, take pram toys. These are great because you can keep them clipped onto the buggy or pram so they are always with you and as the toy isn't readily played with at home, it's a bit of a novelty. These are great distractions to and from class and again when you need a few moments of peace and quiet. We love our hand-crocheted pram toys from natureZOO. We even have full blown pram mobiles that stretch across the entire pram for hours of entertainment.
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- Tags: baby classes, baby groups, baby massage, baby sensory, baby yoga, children's centres, daisy baby, daisy foundation, daisy tinies, daisy wrigglers, stay and play, sure start, swimming, water babies