Ahhhhh…peace and quiet. It’s something new parents can only dream about. Through taking some parent-child classes, my 18-month-old son Keenan and I have found our way to a little bit of serenity (sometimes!) and most of all, quality bonding time each week. Taking classes together is a great excuse to concentrate completely on your child, without any other distractions, on a regular basis. Here are a few things you can do with your baby or toddler that will give both of you a pleasant break from a busy week.
Age: As young as 6 weeks – active crawlers/walkers
What it is: Starting at about three months old, my son and I took a yoga class together once a week for several months. During the class, we would do stretches and simple yoga poses. The classes incorporated the babies by using them during poses (great workout for mom, a blast for baby!) and teaching moms techniques like baby massage, and stretches for the little ones that can help relieve gas, calm them down, or just have fun.
Why it’s great: These classes make great post-pregnancy workouts for new moms. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class before, you’ll understand that yoga is the optimum setting for catching an hour of peace and quiet. The main benefit of doing yoga with your baby is that classes are specifically geared for new moms. You’ll focus on movements and breathing exercises, and developing core strength and stability. It’s also great because nothing wears babies out like a yoga session! (Can you say “naptime”?!)
Where you can find one: Call around to local yoga studios to see if they offer this class.
Age: 6 weeks and up
What it is: With a group of other parents and children, you can sing, dance, learn nursery rhymes, and explore drums, rattles, and other percussion instruments.
Why it’s great: From a very young age, babies can recognize and enjoy music. Through music lessons, Keenan has learned valuable skills like following directions, listening, and sign language. According to an article by Science Daily, one-year-old babies who participate in these types of music classes show better communication skills, smile more, and show more sophisticated brain responses to music. I really value music and I want my son to have the same appreciation, so I find that these classes are a great avenue to an early music education.
Age: As young as 4 months
What it is: Babies learn skills like climbing, dancing, and other activities which increase gross and fine motor skills.
Why it’s great: It’s a great way for babies to have fun increasing strength and muscle control, as well as motor skills, coordination, and balance. Besides the physical benefits, gymnastics classes can help increase spatial awareness, and problem solving skills.
Where you can find one: Check with local gymnastics centers and your YMCA.
Age: About 6 months – 3 years
What it is: Through songs and games, little ones learn not to fear the swimming pool, and to do things like splash, blow bubbles, and kick their legs. It’s a wonderful introduction to swimming.
Why it’s great: Parent-child swim classes are a great way to learn water safety and help little ones relax in the water. According to babyswimming.com, researchers have documented that starting children in swim lessons at a young age has the potential to increase intelligence, concentration, alertness and perceptual abilities. Besides that, it can help moms and dads feel better about taking their babies in the water, since holding a slippery infant can be a daunting task.
Where you can find one: Check with your local YMCA or pools near you.
Baby Sign Language
Age: About 6 Months
What it is: Parents and children meet with qualified sign language instructors to learn how to use baby sign language.
Why it’s great: This is a great way to promote communication from nonverbal babies and toddlers. Although my son and I have never taken a class, sign language was crucial for preventing meltdowns before he was able to verbally communicate his needs. We used signs for things like “more,” “please,” “eat,” “drink,” and “tired.” If I had known you could take a sign language class, I definitely would have signed up! I encourage all parents to take these classes; you’ll never regret it, and it’ll make your life a whole lot easier!
Where you can find one: I found a great list of baby sign language classes, organized by state, on Sign2Me.com. Some hospitals even offer sign language classes as part of their parenting programs.
Baby classes are a great way to meet other parents and focus on your baby. They’re also super beneficial for baby’s development. Set aside one hour a week to attend a class together, and have a good time!