Picture the scene, sixteen babies all in a circle each gazing up into their mother’s eyes as she sings to them. Sounds lovely, except one baby (mine) seems to be ruining the perfect scene by looking at the mother next to me, or just staring off into empty space. That was how I felt at my first baby sensory class, when I took my baby girl at 7 weeks old.
I couldn’t help but be impressed with the class and the teacher. She is so welcoming and enthusiastic and great with the babies. She has a huge variety of equipment so each class is different, and each class includes a mixture of songs, puppet shows, dancing for the adults, movement and actions for the babies, using props and lots of other activities to encourage development. I just couldn’t help feeling that it was all going slightly over the head of my baby.
I kept going to the end of term because I found it was a great for me to get out of the house. All of the classes include twenty minutes free play for the babies mid-class to give them a break from concentrating. They can play on a variety of toys, while the adults end up chatting, so it is one of the best classes I’ve been to for talking to other mums. Also at 7 weeks old an hour was a long time for my baby to be awake, but she always seemed to stay awake and happy for the classes, so she was enjoying them. She just wasn’t grasping the props and interacting in a way that made me think she was benefitting, so at the end of the term I didn’t sign up again.
However over the next few weeks I would find myself singing the songs at home. I would remember what the teacher had said about activities to encourage development and would find myself trying them. My mum also made me a few sensory toys like a rainbow ribbon loop. At some point around 4 months old, my baby suddenly became super interested in them. She would giggle as I sang and did actions, and her eyes would track the ribbons avidly. She would grasp objects and enjoy different textures and sounds. Maybe it was time to give baby sensory classes another go?
So I find myself back in the circle. Again my baby isn’t gazing up lovingly into my eyes, because now she is busy rolling over to look at the other babies. She is clearly enjoying herself. She is giggling along to the songs, and grasping the props with an iron fist. She’s a very curious baby that loves to know what’s going on around her so baby sensory classes are great for her. We can save the quiet eye gazing moments for at home when there are no distractions.
So would I recommend baby sensory classes ? Yes…
- Great teacher
- Good variety in each class with a broad mixture of activities
- Much wider range of props that you would have at home so baby is exposed to lots of new sensory experiences
- Lots of useful tips and ideas for activities to do at home
- Chance to try out toys in free play to see what your bay likes
- Time to talk with other parents
Would I recommend starting as young as 7 weeks or waiting until later? I think this very much depends on you and your baby. If your baby can sit through an hour class without getting upset then I think they will enjoy it, and you will certainly benefit from talking to other mums. However, if they get upset and tired easily it might be stressful if there is no visible feedback from your baby that they are enjoying the activities. In that case waiting until they are about 3 or 4 months old might be more rewarding. Try these activities at home and if you are rewarded with a big smile then they are ready…
- Wave a piece of coloured material from side to side above them, and see if they turn their head to follow it
- Sing a simple song with actions (like row-row-row-your-boat) and rock baby on your knees
- Hold a rattle in your baby’s hand (they might need your help to hold it) and shake it along to some music
Baby sensory classes might not be the bonding experience I expected, but they are certainly fun for both parent and baby, and it’s great to see her interacting with other babies. Better yet it gives me ideas for activities to do at home, and then when there’s less distractions I get my lovely eye gazing moments as I sing to her, and even though my voice is terrible she enjoys it, and there’s no better feeling.
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