There are so many benefits for little ones attending classes and groups, (including the perfect excuse for parents to get out of the house) - but finding the best activity for your little one can be pretty overwhelming! With hundreds of classes out there, it can be hard to know which will suit your child best.
“Like all things parenting, it’s really finding what works for you and your little one and choosing something that fits in with their age and stage of development,” says childcare expert Fi Star-Stone. “Music and singing classes are a brilliant way to support learning. One of the biggest benefits of singing is the repeated use of the ‘memory muscle’. Learning a piece of information attached to a tune, embeds that information more rapidly in a child’s mind. Dancing, swimming and even little yoga classes are fantastic for little ones physical and social development and a great way of channelling that never-ending energy. And if you really can’t decide, don't worry! Many classes offer taster sessions – so it’s worth trying a few before signing up for a term.”
“Check the class credentials – it’s something that's important and something that so many parents forget,’” recommends Fi. “Many groups and classes across the UK attended by little ones, may not have adequate child safeguarding or Health and Safety and insurance.’
Mum Hollie admitted when looking for activities she hadn’t even realised classes weren’t regulated: “I assumed these kind of guidelines were in place, and in all honesty feel very ignorant now for making such a huge assumption as far as Hollie is concerned. I will now as a rule be doing my research!”
Richard Tunstall, who runs Ju Jitsu mini Ninja classes, agrees the code of practice is a huge help in helping parents find classes with peace of mind. “Any scheme which is fairly run, giving fair references on the experiences of the children and parents attending the group has to be good for all involved. Parents constantly worry about their child’s well-being and therefore to know that the activities are well run and safe, should be their highest priority.”
How do I know if a class is safe and a good standard?
It’s understandably incredibly important to you that your baby will be well looked after, whatever class you choose. But how can you be sure?
“Look out for the official CAA logo on the websites and literature of all those businesses who have pledged to meet the CAA’s robust guidelines for best practice,” recommends Fi. “For those not displaying the logo, don’t be afraid to ask to see their insurance, CRB checks and qualification or training from all staff involved in the activities. Think about it - you wouldn’t send your child to a nursery or childminder without the relevant checks, so be safe with your classes too.”
What are the best baby and toddler groups?
We’ve picked out some of the best courses to do with your baby. And the good news? They’re available nationwide.
Perfect for burning off some of your toddler’s endless energy, diddi dance classes use ribbons and hoops as props. Dance classes have a theme, which changes every 5-7 weeks, and includes salsa and 1920s Charleston – think jazz hands.
Tappy Toes run award winning, active dance and movement classes for children aged 6 months to 5 years. Our baby, toddler and Pre-School classes are specifically designed to instil a life-long love of dance and movement into your little dancer. Come and release some of those endorphins with us! Get your little one moving in a Tappy Toes dance class.
If you love your downward dog or salute to the sun, you can take your baby along to YogaBellies classes, which includes baby massage, focused yoga postures for the mums, and poses for both you and your baby so you can bond with each other. They’re suitable for babies and toddlers and classes last one hour, which you book in blocks of six classes.
Ok, so your singing voice may be a bit rusty (more reject than Rihanna wannabe), but that doesn’t matter in a Jo Jingles class. It offers music, singing and dance classes for babies and pre-school children from three months to four years. Expect plenty of tambourines and maracas (anything to drown out our singing…)
A good class for newborns and very young babies, MamaBabyBliss massage can help sooth colic and wind, and encourage your baby to sleep, as well as building his digestive, circulatory and immune systems.
Great for getting your baby used to the water from a young age, Waterbabies baby swimming classes also boost confidence and improve strength in your baby’s arms and legs. The sooner you start, the more used to the water your tot will be.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly your little one can pick up a foreign language (if you’ve ever watched your toddler parroting away to Dora the Explorer you’ll understand). Lingotot classes teach a range of languages including French, Spanish and even Chinese.
babyballet is a fun, award-winning pre-school dance class for girls and boys from 6 months to 6 years.
With a real focus on learning through play, babyballet, which runs across the UK, allows babies, toddlers and young children to enjoy the physical and social benefits of ballet, song and dance in a safe, caring, positive and informal environment.
Little ones will build their confidence and social skills, while developing basic ballet technique, coordination, musicality, balance, posture and rhythm. babyballet’s fully qualified teachers are joined in class by the babyballet bears, Twinkle & Teddy, who help to encourage all the little stars to interact and share as they learn to dance without any pressure.
There is also a line of merchandise and parties available.
If you’ve already gone into new mum anxious mode, checking smoke alarms and practising infant choking positions, sign up for a first aid class run by the National Childbirth Trust and the British Red Cross.
The course covers health issues such as loss of consciousness, CPR, choking, bleeding, burns, high temperatures and meningitis.
While we’re not expecting your pre-schooler to be doing back flips and triple flip twists quite yet, a Tumbletots class will encourage him to climb, jump, and roll while learning how to control movements more precisely.
It uses soft play equipment for children to clamber over and under and it’s a great way to make friends.
Disco Duck are nationwide award-winning dance classes for pre-school boys and girls. Designed by an ex professional dancer, dance teacher and choreographer, the classes have been developed to increase little one’s confidence, self-esteem, social skills, balance and concentration. The classes operate in a fun and safe environment and are attended every week by Disco Duck himself! There is also Disco Duck merchandise including a CD and stories, and parties which are really popular with parents and children.
If you’ve experienced the *joy* of peeling dried Play-Doh off the kitchen floor, you’ll appreciate the Creation Station.
It offers arts and crafts classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers without the mess for you.
How do I find baby and toddler classes nearby?
“Pre-school and after school classes are a fantastic way of meeting new people and making friends for both parent and child, so don’t be afraid get out and about and enjoy all your local area has to offer,” suggest Fi. “Do your research, check online reviews and class feedback, and talk to the best critics of all – other parents!”
If you’ve not got a specific class in mind but want to see your options, simply Google ‘Baby classes near me.’ This will then bring up local classes that may be of interest to you for you to look into.
Lockdown means that baby and toddler classes are no longer able to run, leaving a lot of parents desperate for alternatives to entertain their child. This has seem an increase in parents being offered virtual classes. While this may not seem the same as attending a class in person, this does give you the chance to try some classes with your child that you might not be within distance for you to go to.
To give you a hand, we’ve gathered some virtual classes for you to give a try:
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