Parent and baby classes are more popular than ever, but when I asked a health professional for groups I could get involved with, I was pointed in the direction of only one where many of the mums were younger and part of an unbreakable clique.
It was a gentle reminder that I hailed from a different decade and while I wore my age like a badge of honour at the class, there were days when I admit to feeling quite alienated.
We had only just moved two weeks after Cyrus was born, so this baby group was just the start. I have been asked a few times since if I’d recommend pregnancy and childbirth to others my age and my answer is always the same. “Read my blog and then decide for yourself.”
While I’d initially received a lot of information from my health visitor about breastfeeding, bringing up a happy baby and the benefits of immunising Cyrus, what I didn’t have was knowledge about the range of things I could get involved in as an older mum.
I’ve mentioned before in a previous post about how Great Park Community Centre in Newcastle became a central part of my life and that’s because there was so much on offer. From leaflets on swimming, signing, baby massage, baby boot camp to ARTventurers and Jitterbugs, there was something on offer to suit all tastes and all ages!
As a mum over 40, I would have loved nothing more than to have been given a special new mum pack filled with leaflets and discounts to highlight supportive places here in the North East. It would have been really useful, especially in those first few weeks at home when my life had changed beyond recognition.
I feel like I’m only finding out about places I could have gone to just as I’m ready to return to work and I would have loved to have attended a baby massage class with my little night-owl – particularly as I’ve just discovered it can help enhance sleep! I would have almost certainly attended more Northumberland Mumpreneur sessions too to keep myself sane.
The importance of baby sensory classes for development
It was word of mouth that led me to finding out about The Baby Hub and M Ms (music, movement and sensory class) which has been a lifeline for me to meet other like-minded mums.
The sessions are linked to the Government’s Early Years framework and the programme focuses on learning through play – with sing-along songs, props, activities and music. It is also a great opportunity for parents/carers to get together and share experiences in a relaxed environment.
Research suggests that play is a key part of a child’s development and is very effective in building a child’s confidence, interest, logic and social skills. In addition to this, the Department for Education is keen to highlight the different ways a child can learn.
The Baby Hub M Ms (music, movement and sensory) programmes are designed and structured to provide a range of activities to ensure a holistic approach to children’s learning and development in a group environment. Involvement in group activities is important as they promote development through interaction and communication. This benefits the child through promoting inclusion, playing with others, sharing and taking turns.
The range of activities included in the programme promotes decision-making, physical movement and the use of senses in a fun and relaxed environment. This can develop independence, exploration skills and confidence. Also included in the programme are activities to support the development of bonding and relaxation.
I attended a Baby M Ms session (for those aged six weeks up to around one year old). Although there is also a toddler M Ms for those a year old to three years old.
I took Cyrus to the class because I want to make sure he is properly socialised and understands how to share in the run-up to him going to nursery when I return to work in May.
I found the group to be really useful as Cyrus had more space and room at the group to safely explore new places and shiny sensory items. He was able to practise body movements and manipulative and coordination skills. The session also created a rich social environment which encouraged him to build relationships and communicate his feelings.
What’s great about the class is that every week has a different theme, so there’s no monotony. I’m keen for Cyrus to engage in as many different types of fun activities as possible in order to stimulate his imagination and provide a platform for him to develop different skills.
As a mum over 40, I was put at ease by the fact there were other mums of similar ages attending the class. I didn’t feel like the odd one out and I was able to make friends with ease which was hugely important for me.We will certainly be back for another Baby Hub session soon before he starts nursery.
Programmes run for around five weeks (dependent on bank holidays etc) and cost £25. Classes are an hour long and run in:
Jesmond, St George’s church hall on Mondays
Ponteland – Coming in May
North Shields – Coming in the summer
OPPORTUNITY: The Baby Hub is looking to expand initially in the North East but then wider through franchising. The opportunity is perfect for someone who loves working with parents and children, is a great way to work flexibly to suit lifestyle and family commitments and has the potential to earn a good income. For more information, get in touch with Jenna via email firstname.lastname@example.org