So here’s a few groups and classes that the Mumma Says team have been too and can recommend….
NCT Antenatal Courses ... You pay a fee to go to around 6 classes to learn about pregnancy and childbirth, we went when Leyton was just a wriggly bump and the things I know now I could only dream of then. Our classes were 2 hours, weekly, and as well as a great way of meeting other couples having babies the same time of year, you also learn different things. To be fair, I’m not sure if the knowledge that was imparted on us was perhaps worth every penny (some of the info was duplicated from books and friends/ family) – but there definitely was some useful stuff in there and it did give me and the hubby specific time each week to really talk about the pregnancy along with different topics for discussion which we hadn’t thought of before. And of course those friendships with other expectant parents have been crucial on the journey with our babies so far! My only regret was not getting a group Bump photo to compare to the ones we’ve recently taken at the babies 1st birthday parties!
Baby signing…What can your baby say? Nathan and I started baby sign language with Tiny Talk when he was 5 months old. It’s brilliant for babies to socialise from a young ages and Nathan made lots of friends. It was good for me too, after half an hour of singing and signing nursery rhymes I could have a cuppa and chat to the other mums while the babies played together. I met a very good friend there and we arrange playdates outside of signing too.
Just 2 months after we began tinytalk he signed his first ‘words’, Milk and More. Typical for my little boy. He gradually picked up more signs: elephant, giraffe, monkey, food. By his first birthday Nathan could sign more than 20 words: drink, hat, apple. He graduated baby signing at 18 months old with almost 40 signs under his belt. He loves to tell me when he sees a plane, or a bird. He can tell me when nana and grandpa arrive, or if there is an elephant on his nappy. He developed a few signs all on his own: motor vehicles (he uses the same sign for all of them), basketball (daddy plays) and red (he uses the stop sign because red means stop).
Now I’m sure a few of you have looked at this and gone, doesn’t it affect his speech? Not at all, you still say the word to him when you sign, just as you would when teaching your child to talk without signing. Nathan has words he can say: cat, car, mummy, byebye, hiya which at 18 months old is ok with me. Nathan’s paternal grandparents were highly sceptical about baby signing, the usual concern of it affecting his speech development, high praise came last week when his grandma admitted that he communicates brilliantly for such a young boy.
We loved baby signing so much that Nathan is enrolled onto the toddler talking classes for September. These will take him until he’s 4 years old and communicating with speech and sign language equally, speech will probably take over completely before then.
Football… Nathan is a very active little boy. he takes after his Daddy in the energy department. He is the Duracell bunny. Whilst the signing classes, baby groups and craft sessions with Mummy help stimulate and develop his brain etc, nothing beats a good old run around. Beginner class…Saturday lunchtime…DADDY!! Yep, you guessed it, 2 birds one stone. wear them both out. I enrolled Nathan on a tiddlekicks phase 1 class, he loves it! his favourite bits are kicking over skittles and tidying up. He treasures his weekly sticker, and Jamie lines them up on Nathan’s bedroom shelf. He was recently awarded his first certificate, not sure he totally grasped the concept but Mummy and Daddy were very proud. Our particular class (there are several companies who run kids football sessions) is brilliant because its several little sections of different skills, good for short attention spans. There’s music involved and teamwork, lots of learning about their bodies too…getting warmer and hearts beating faster. Nathan even knows the different parts of his trainers thanks to them. My left footed little man may play for Scotland one day…or he may just learn to tidy up after himself.
Twinkles… (a SureStart Centre group) – There will be lots of SureStart Childrens Centres around your local area, and they will have different groups for local families to attend. A good opportunity to get out of the house for a set time each week and speak to other mummas, and put a stop to that cabin fever! I was initially skeptical of going to these groups, knowing nothing about how they were run etc, but was pleasantly surprised when we started attending one of the Activity / Play groups each week, named Twinkles. Leyton has done everything from crafts (painting and doing hand print pictures or seasonal prints or sticking shapes and cutouts onto paper etc) to playing in Jelly, sand, paddling pools to doing singing and nursery rhymes. It’s so varied every week and is such a great opportunity to meet other mummas who live in the same area as you with babies around the same age…. I found it great to speak to mummas a bit ahead of us too, like Nathan’s mumma, to find out whats in store and if what I was/ am going through sounds about right (and the friends we’ve made at Twinkles have been some of the nicest ladies we could wish to meet)! Also whats great is there are normally run by people who know what they’re talking about and can put you in touch with a breastfeeding expert, for example if you need advice.
Roots, Shoots & Welly Boots…a new one for Nathan and I. “designed to get your child outdoors at an early age” yep sounds good to me (in June and July) but we shall see if I’m quite so enthused in the middle of winter. Its a great class that gets them thinking about the weather and plants and bugs and the food they eat. Our teacher, Hayley, is infectiously enthusiastic. She gets them to sit of circles of grass fabric, has their names on a sign-in board using suns, she gets them trying a new fruit or vegetable every week and teaches them where it grows. On top of all that she has set up half a dozen outside sections where they can build dens, plant seeds, collect leaves for nature bracelets, bark rubbings…I can go on. Again, I have a very active, inquisitive and adventurous little person, he’s into everything and doesn’t do sitting still. RSWB classes are perfect, bring on the mud pies.
Baby First Aid / ‘Healthy Beginnings… (a SureStart Centre group) – The Children Centres hold all sorts of practical classes like Baby First Aid, Fire Safety, Weaning, Breastfeeding etc. We found going to these classes very useful as although some info I was already aware of it gave me the peace of mind that I had the tools to look after my little one. If we didnt find this baby first aid class we would have gone elsewhere like St. Johns Ambulance or Red Cross as I know they often provide classes too.
Singing/nursery rhyme time… Leyton really enjoyed going to this weekly class, focusing on signing, dancing and nursery rhymes. There are quite a few around in different shapes and forms but the local class we went to was recommended by a friend who had already been going for a few months. We started going when he was around 5 months old and I didn’t even feel the slightest bit silly signing along with a baby who wasn’t paying meany attention, because you’re in a room surrounded by other mummas who are doing the exact same thing. As Leyton got older he would recognise some songs and hand gestures although still doesn’t really fancy joining in… above all he likes being around other children and watching them run around and shout along!
Water babies…on a recommendation from a fellow mummu we asked for a term of water babies lessons as a Christmas & birthday presents from Nathan’s grandparents (its quite expensive for us). He was by far the oldest in the beginners class at 12 months old, but I think that helped me gauge if he liked it easier. The lessons were good, we got a fabulous technique for washing his hair with their ‘Nathan, ready, GO!’. It was nice that both I and Nathan’s Daddy could take him in the water, and his grandparents could come and watch one week. The teachers we met were lovely, and very enthusiastic. The only issue we had was with the timing of the lesson at our nearest venue. Teatime swimming is not ideal with a toddler, he is hungry and tired. He did start to drop off one week and we left early. A couple of friends love it and have been going religiously, its was nice for us to try.