I never thought that my little baby girl would have more of a social calendar than me!
I started on all the baby activities maybe a bit later than most mums set out to. We travelled a bit during her first four months so I was unable to commit to any activities because you need to normally buy all the activities in bulk package of normally six weeks or so.
I think it is so important to have your baby busy and active with all sorts of baby groups as it really helps their development and social skills. It is also important that you choose activities for you, to keep you active, where your baby can be a part of it.
In this post I am going to share with you what activities I do with my little fig and what I have enjoyed with each one of them.
I have always known that I wanted swimming to be a main activity for my children. I was advised by the swimming school that the best time to start swimming is when the baby is around four months old, as they are more mobile by this age and they’ve had all their jabs up to date.
We started our classes in January with Waterlife Swim School in Richmond. I was so excited for her first class but also absolutely dreading it as I had no idea how MJ would react to being in a pool. I knew she loved her bath times so was hoping she would react well to it. Luckily she did so, but after having completed Level 1 already, I know there are certain things she just really doesn’t like doing.
She hates swimming on her back unless her head is on my shoulder. Every time I put her fully on her back in water she twists her entire self around just so that she can be facing me.
The first half of the class will be spent with her crying each time she has to do a submersion but then the second half she is absolutely fine and does them perfectly. Her favourite part of each class is when the toys come out and they are all motivated to swim to them to be able to play with them (I’m holding her towards them, she can’t swim by herself yet).
I know that some people find swimming classes a bit useless so early on, but I have genuinely found it beneficial, especially when the instructor explains the reason behind each thing they learn.
The first main point is losing any fear of being in water. In every activity you are always holding them, you are always next to them. So this will give them that reassurance that they are safe because you are there with them, you are nearby at all times and I feel that allows them to feel confident in water because they know you are with them.
You get to motivate them with each new skill they learn. Whilst MJ is kicking her little legs away I’m always singing to her ‘kick, kick baby, just keep kicking, just keep kicking’ (like Dori’s just keep swimming). She smiles each time I sing that, so I know she relates to it as something positive.
When they are taught to hold on to the side wall, it makes them realise that when they are close to the wall they can just grab it to be able to hang on. They teach these sorts of skills incase something bad were ever to happen, if they fall off the side or something they can associate the wall with being able to grab on. They learn this in various different ways, but the main ones being swimming up to the wall then grabbing on and sitting on the outside of the pool with feet just hanging and then jumping in (we jump them in) and turning them around to grab on and then even whilst they are swimming towards the wall, they submerge under water and then once they are back out again they see the wall and grab it. I know it sounds intense but trust me it works.
The way they are taught to submerse and go under water is so great. In every class you do some ‘Ready? Go!’, which basically means you say that to them and place a handful of water over their head and face in separate goes. They learn to close their eyes each time you say that because they know what’s going to happen. So each time we practise a submersion, I say ‘Ready? Go!’ and she closes her eyes ready to go under water. And oh my gosh it just makes me smile from ear to ear because it makes me so proud of how much she’s grown.
Each class in 30m long, which is enough time for the little one to learn and be active enough. I have seen such a development with her in only four months already and I am so glad we decided to continue into level 2. She will finish level 2 by mid-July, which is perfect timing for us because we will be going back home to Lisbon for the summer, where there will be lots of swimming by the pool and at the beach.
I have never practised much yoga at all prior to becoming a mum and wasn’t really sure if I was going to enjoy it much or not.
I booked a six-week session at Yogabellies Richmond and started end of January.
Triona, the instructor was fantastic and always starts the class by telling everyone to feel completely at ease. If your baby starts crying for a feed, that it’s fine to feed them in class or to go change their nappy if needed. It’s the best way, I felt, to make mums feel comfortable in a class and not like there were any rules to stick by.
There is a huge play mat in the middle of the class for any active babies to spend their time playing on.
After my first class, I was like oh my god yoga is tough! I didn’t remember how much it did to your body, especially if you’re as unfit as I am. It really is both a great workout and relaxation activity for mums. The class is 45m long and the first half is mainly activities you do by yourself whilst baby lays in front of you. In the second half a lot of the positions are incorporated with baby. MJ was hilarious because she would spend most her time tummy time just staring at everyone and then would either laugh or cry when I’d hold her to be part of my yoga position. There were also activities where you would sing songs to the baby whilst they did their own yoga moves too and that was great. But that’s the fun of it, not only are you doing something for yourself but you get to have fun with your baby too. The last three classes, MJ was already crawling and preferred to spend her time on the play mat which I genuinely didn’t mind as I got o focus properly on my yoga time.
There are also classes arranged for Daddys to do baby yoga. I’m still trying to convince João to go to one.
Ok so I absolutely love to dance. I mean who doesn’t? MJ and I start our mornings by having breakfast listening to music and I dance around in between each spoon I give her. She loves it and dances in her chair by kicking her legs and smiles at me with so much excitement. I’m sure many of you have seen that video of dads in the America dancing with their babies in carriers. I never even thought that was a thing of having actual dancing classes like that, so once I’d seen that video I knew I needed to see if there was anything like that in London. I found about three or four companies I think that had these classes but they were all far from me, until I luckily found Groovaroo in London.
Veronika (who is AMAZING) holds classes in Mortlake, Hammersmith and Wimbledon. I bought a six-week block of classes, which what I love most about is they are flexible, meaning you don’t have to commit to six weeks in a row. You go whenever you can, which is great for us mummas!
Classes are an hour long, and you learn two different dance routines. The class starts with Veronika helping to make sure your baby is snug in the carrier (she always has spare carriers if the one you have doesn’t work well for the class). We then warm up and then beginning learning our first routine. We have regular water breaks because trust me, dancing alone is already a tiring sport, but dancing with a baby on you make you even hotter and in the need for more water. By the end of two routines, you cool down and this is when my little MJ always falls asleep. When I get her off me, I can see she has given me a sweat patch on my belly from the heat created between whilst I dance, but I can luckily place her in the pram and go and enjoy a coffee after class.
Rhythm and Rhyme:
We have only started going about a month ago to rhythm and rhyme classes at my local children’s centre. Once a week we head off to enjoy a class of singing and playing. The teacher is lovely and sings all nursery rhymes using props and goes around the class showing the babies what he has. There are also songs where baby participates too like row, row, row your boat. MJ is so funny and spends the singing part of the class to me whilst I sing to her and she just stares and me and the teacher in awe. When playtime begins and the teacher gets the box of toys out, she’s one of the first to crawl over and start playing. What I have noticed to be her preference though is standing at the box and holding on with one hand, whilst the other one grabs toys and she just plays with them in the air.
My local children’s centre also holds Spanish singing classes once a month. We went to our first one last week, and it was actually quite fun. I know she doesn’t understand anything but it’s fun to keeps things diverse with our little ones.
We haven’t started this yet but are already signed up. The local gymnastics school has a class for babies once a week for 45m. It is great value at only £25 for the term. A local mum had told me about it and my little brother actually used to go there when he was a toddler so I was gutted I hadn’t thought about it sooner. It is a great time for babies to be active and to develop their movement skills. I will share more about baby gym in a post on my Instagram feed once we go there, but I think it’s a great one to consider.
Bumps and Babies:
This is the local NCT Group that created a local mums get together at a coffee shop in Richmond every Wednesday morning. It is a great way to meet mums from the local area, where the conversation topic of babies never gets tiring.
We never did baby massage when MJ was younger, as I mentioned due to the fact we kept travelling. But I have heard so many great things about it and hope to attend those classes when I have my next baby.
Baby Sensory is also something we haven’t done yet. I want to find a local one that has free classes. My maternity payments have now ended so I’m looking for fun and free things to do!
I hope you’ve enjoyed knowing about what I get up to with my little fig around the Richmond area. Check out our week below and my top tips.
Our week at the moment looks like this:
Monday: Day off with Daddy
Tuesday: Grovaroo 0930-1030, Baby Gym 1145-1230
Wednesday: Bumps & Babies 0930-1130, Swimming 1600-1630
Thursday: Rhythm and Rhyme 0930-1015
Friday: Free Day
Saturday: Free Day
Sunday: Day off with Daddy
-Download HOOP, it’s a great app that tells you about all baby related activities within your area.
-Download MUSH and PEANUT, both apps to meet mums within your local area.
-Try and find your local mums group on facebook.
-Keep yourself active and out of the house with baby at least three times a week. It leaves the other days free for you to do whatever you want.