Between the ages of 0-3, your child’s brain is developing at an exponential rate and so I was once googling what activities can we do with a 6-month-old to assist in their development and came across a play and learn activity class for babies. I decided to take a trial class and see what they offered. After trying a couple of them, I liked one for which we enrolled Viaan. It is a 45-minute, once a week class for his age group (which is 6-10 months babies). The membership is monthly so we planned to give it a try and continue if Viaan liked it… The class consists of baby play time in the activity playground which consists of ramps, slides and climbers, a couple of song and dance activities, story time and some group play. .Every other play and learn center has their own format of activities so it is best to take a trial class and see for yourself.
I am sharing some pros and cons of joining the activity class ( from my personal experience):
- Interaction: In the beginning, for a couple of classes, I realized that Viaan would not participate in many activities and would look at other babies with total astonishment. But eventually, when he went to the classes every week he became more and more comfortable with everyone around and also started interacting with other babies. He made quite a few friends already 🙂 During the group play session all babies sit together, play with toys and interact with one another ( Mostly snatch toys from each other ). It is so much fun to watch them all together in one room! Coming to the point, I feel Viaan has become more friendly and comfortable around new people as a result of going to these classes regularly.
- Activities that support development: The activities in the playground are designed to assist in developing strength, balance, coordination, and self-confidence. The setup consists of a variety of props, toys, ramps, swings, stairs etc.. The activities are quite well suited for babies of all ages. It is essentially like a gym for babies. The non-crawlers are encouraged to do tummy time, non-sitters are encouraged to do activities that help them learn to sit, supported sitters are encouraged to crawl by using rattle toys etc. , crawlers are encouraged to walk and so on and so forth. Overall, I feel all the different motor, sensory and communication games and activities help in the development of the baby.
- Hygienic setup: The colorful setups are not only attractive for the babies to play with but I was glad to see that they took good care of hygiene too. All toys and the play area was cleaned with a disinfectant spray right after the activity was completed. So I could leave him to play anywhere without having to worry about what he is touching or chewing on.
- Parenting 101: At the beginning of the class the coordinator and parents talk about matters such as sleeping routines( what worked or what did not), eating habits ( starting solids etc.).This quick session really helps parents to discuss their questions or learn from other people’s experience. Also, since most of the activities require the parent’s involvement, it is a good place for parents to spend quality time and bond with the baby.
- Repetitive: Viaan has been going to these classes for 4 months now. I now feel that it is getting a bit repetitive. The activities are the same every 2 weeks and so he is not getting to do anything new. He will move to a new batch next month (when he is 10 months ) and maybe then he gets to do new exciting stuff. We have put our membership on hold for a month for this reason
- Not a lot of options: The class we enrolled Viaan in is 45 minutes drive from our place so we are only able to take him on Saturdays when my husband is there to help! I wish it was closer so I could make use of the open gym slots available on weekdays and try out the music class too.. We go to Gymboree play and learn and some other similar activity clubs that I know are My Gym and The Little Gym. Just in case you decide to try a class you can call them or register online!
So overall, I feel babies do learn from every stimulus and bonding experience you expose them to from birth and these classes provide a good learning environment for 0-18 month babies especially because at this age they really don’t have a lot of options at the park or play area at the mall!
Do share your experiences and ideas on what other activities are suitable for a baby in the comments section below!!