Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Social Activities for your Baby

The first year of your baby's life is full of milestones. That first smile, that first giggle, that first step-- baby is always learning something new.

When my daughter was about seven months old, one of the other mom's in my neighborhood sent out an invite for a baby playgroup. I remember signing right up, because I wanted to have some adult interaction. Of course at our first playgroup, none of the baby's did much but look at each other before going back to playing with whatever toy they had been playing with. But this experience was my daughter's first time at socializing with other children her age. Turns out, as your baby progresses through the toddler stage, social activities are much more abundant. If you're looking for some activities to do withy your baby or toddler, why not consider one of these fun ideas:

Story time. I'm lucky that my local library is part of a countywide library system, with a network that offers wonderful children's programs. My daughter was about eighteen months old when I signed her up for her first library story time session. She absolutely loved it. The story time featured songs, finger plays, rhymes and of course, short, baby-friendly stories. By the end of that story time session (the sessions ran 8 weeks) my daughter had mastered several children's songs. As the years have gone by, I have signed my kids up for age appropriate story time sessions. Story time is a great way for your baby to interact with other children his or her age and it's also a great learning experience. Check your local library to find out what kind of children's programs they offer.

Tumbling classes. Baby-friendly places such as Gymboree offer tumbling and other types of classes for young toddlers. Your baby will get a kick out of climbing and playing on the soft mats and toys. Most Gymboree classes are offered in 12 week sessions. You can also check any gymnastics schools in your area--many offer toddler classes. These classes are a great way for you and baby to meet new friends while also getting some exercise.

Playdates/park. If you go to just about any local park on a nice, warm sunny day you're bound to be in the company of lots of other mothers and their children. I love taking my kids to the park, especially during the school year (that means the older kids are in school, so the little one shave the park all to themselves). Make it a habit to take your baby to the park-- you will find that you will see familiar faces the more you go. Fr a special treat, pack a picnic lunch and eat it at the park.

Music classes. Babies love music, so that's why I'm glad that there are places in my area like Kindermusik. Your baby will love to sing and play with other kids his or her age.

YMCA. Your local YMCA most likely offers plenty of classes and activities for even the youngest of children. From swimming lessons to gymnastics to creative movement dance, there's always something for your baby (and you) to do. Tale advantage of the Y's programs while your kids are young and you may even instill a lifelong love of exercise in them. Many YMCA's offer Full and Program Memberships. A Full membership would mean that you can enjoy most of the Y's activities. A Program membership would mean you can sign up for special classes and whatnot.

Foreign language lessons. Now I am the first person to say that I don't believe in "pushing" children into activities too early-- I'm not even a big advocate of preschool, to be honest. But learning a foreign language is one thing that I believe you child can't start learning too soon. Research even shows that young children (age 2 to 3 years) are at a great advantage when it comes to learning a new language. Even though they may still be "mastering" the English language, your child is able to soak up so much knowledge at this time.

Also, check you church or community bulletin boards for information on Mom's Groups. As a mom of a young child, you may definitely be craving some adult time once in a while. A mom's group is a great way to meet other mom's just like yourself.

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