After an extremely trying weekend (I had to go to Middlesbrough to see The Man’s mother – more about that another time when I have calmed down…), it was rather a nice ‘break’ to get up on Bank Holiday Monday and go along with my friend Madeleine to one of the Baby Sensory groups that she runs.
As I went back to work about 2 months after The Girl was born, and had never been to an antenatal class or ANY kind of baby class before OR after I had her, this was brand new territory for me. But anyway, Baby Sensory classes have only been around for about 5 years, so it’s not like I’d have had the opportunity anyway!
Mads used to go to a class after she had her little boy, and was so impressed that when they moved back to Walthamstow, and there wasn’t a class in the area, she decided to run one herself.
There are 100+ classes run across the UK with structured ‘lesson plans’ designed to stimulate babies up to 13 months old with songs, lights, signing and puppet shows etc. You can read more about it on their official website.
There were two classes (held at Shern Hall Methodist Church Hall) – 10.30 – 11.30 every Monday for 7-13 months and 12.00-1.00 for up to 6 months. Being a Bank Holiday Monday, there were quite a lot less babies than there would normally have been – but there were plenty that I felt I wanted to steal and take home because they were just so adorable!
I think the thing that most amazed me about it was how much the babies seemed to concentrate. The ‘lesson’ that I went to was based around Old McDonald’s Farm. They start every lesson with a song ‘Say Hello To The Sun’ where there are very definite signs for sun, rain, friends, stars, moon.
We then had a ‘pond’ made of a green sheet, complete with seawood, underwater creatures and three little fishes that had their own song. The songs are all pre-recorded to accompany the lesson plans – and it’s obvious that the babies love them!
Everything is bright, colourful and really designed to stimulate all of their senses. There are parts of the lessons where you manipulate your baby’s legs, or tickle them, or massage them, and Mads was great, explaining why certain exercises were particularly good for them, or why certain parts of the lesson are included, due to research results and even what the parents can do at home.
There was plenty more singing – itsy-bitsy spider (when did it stop being incy wincy that I sang as a kid?), this little piggie, a puppet show for who’s afraid of the big bad wolf and then a ‘Goodbye’ song which is also sang at the end of every session. The change in the babies during this was amazing – any of them that had been making any noise quietened down and seemed to really relax during the song.
I was talking to some of the parents in the ‘play time’ interval within the session. Some of them had been going for a couple of months, others were on just their second visit but all of them said that their babies loved it. A couple of them pointed out that their babies just really love Madeleine – and I have to admit, she was absolutely fabulous! It was like having your own CBeebies presenter there in real life, right in the room with you – I could see why the babies couldn’t take their eyes off of her, she was so vibrant – almost hypnotic.
So – if you have a baby up to 13 months old I think you should at least give one of the classes a try (anyone can come along for a free taster lesson). Madeleine runs classes in Walthamstow and Tottenham and has a new one in Leyton starting on Friday. I know that she is currently looking for another location within Walthamstow.
If you would like to know more about Madeleine’s Baby Sensory classes in Waltham Forest – just check her details. She is even doing a special Father’s Day session on Saturday 18th June which is filling up quickly!
Unfortunately, I came away with no baby, just a severe bout of broodiness…but a brilliant session in Le Delice with many of the Walthamstow Twitterati managed to cheer me up.