Baby Playgroups - Don't knock it till you try it!

Hi, how are you?

I'm guessing you're here to read about my slightly controversial opinions on the benefits of baby playgroups and classes.

Since Maci was three weeks old we've been regularly attending local playgroups and classes. The point of this post is to hopefully address some of the misinterpretations of what playgroups are actually like... It is not to make anyone to feel guilty for not attending groups, that is the last thing I want. I am actually hoping that by reading this post it may actually give you the confidence to go to a group near you and see what im talking about first hand and then form your opinion about them. 

The most frustrating thing for me is when I recieve messages or comments about how other parents don't like groups/classes but have only ever been to one, there are many different types and it may take a while to find one that you're comfortable with. But every group you go to that you may not go to again, provides your baby with new experiences which are teaching them new things.

(Tiny Maci!)

 First of all I would like to say that these groups/classes are not always as expensive as one may think. A big reason I hear mums use for not taking there little ones' to groups is that they're 'too expensive' well most of them are free!

 Myself and Maci go to three playgroups a week, one of which costs £1.50 for two hours of playtime (including a hot drink for the parents, drink and snack for the children) and the other two are entirely free because they are at local libraries. When Maci was younger we did attend a few more groups, we went to a fabulous one ran by Adventure Babies which was a weekly sensory class and cost around £40 a term (this was the most expensive group/class we've ever gone too) but this group was ran by a lovely lady and had more structure than the 'playgroups' we attend now. 

Since Maci was very little she has always been advanced (professional opinion also, not just a crazy mummy!) and she gets bored very easily. I find it very hard staying at home all day and entertaining her and to be honest I don't want her to be cooped up, I want her to experience new things! At Maci's 8-12 month check she was asked to do numerous tasks which tested her social and emotional developmental skills and once again she was advanced. Maci knows how to interact with other children, share toys, pick toys up using her whole grasp or fingers, points at toys and can say words. I genuinely believe that these skills have been excelled by attending playgroups and having playdates too. 

Another misinterpretation of playgroups/classes is that the mums are extremely 'clicky' - This is not the case at all! I have only ever had one negative experience at a playgroup and even then I went back the following week to see if the atmosphere was different but it wasn't, so we didn't go again. I also find being a 'young mum' I am more likely to receive an unfriendly welcome at groups but I don't! 

One thing you have to remember is that most of the parents there are in exactly the same position as you, they're learning about their baby every single day and they're likely just as anxious as you about walking through those doors into the group. I can honestly say I have met some fabulous people through attending groups and now call them my good friends. You all have something in common, your beautiful babies - so conversation rarely 'dries' up! 

I ask for some questions on Instagram on this topic, here they are! 

What groups/classes would you recommend for different ages?

I think that babies (0-1 year) really benefit from a 'sensory' based class. As I mentioned about we attended our local Adventure Babies classes but there are different ones all over the country. Not only do these classes help your baby to develop but it also helps improve your bond as parent/s and baby. Experiencing new things with your baby is truly magical. 

I cant speak for babies older than 10 months currently but I always find a typical 'playgroup' session is a big hit with Maci. There's always a big array of clean toys to stimulate her brain and teach her new skills, it also means you don't waste lots of money buying toys that they won't like. You can find what they like at groups and then purchase them for your home. 

Anything you dislike?

The only thing I can think of is that there simply isn't enough groups/classes around. I'm not sure if this is just my area but there isn't a massive choice. 

What do you find useful?

Once again I find not having to buy lots of toys that Maci doesn't like is a great thing, meeting new friends with children is also great as you already have something in common. I find just getting out the house useful, it gives Maci and I something to do instead of driving each other crazy at home and getting bored.

At the end of the day we all want what's best for our children, the thing with playgroups/classes is that you shouldn't knock them till you try it! 

I really do hope this post has inspired some of you to see what groups/classes you have near you. I would love to hear from you if you do decided to attend a group alternatively if you're still a little worried please feel free to pop me a message via Instagram. 

I find this app (HOOP) very helpful to find groups/classes near me (your local libraries should also be running FREE baby playtime and rhyme time sessions weekly!) 

Until next time,