Parenting

Why we’re not doing baby classes

I didn’t really know baby classes even existed until I had our daughter in July. My expectation of maternity leave consisted of getting to know our new little human, meeting her needs as best as I could, and making us all as at home in our living space as possible.

Then I did antenatal classes and met a lot of expectant mums, and suddenly baby classes for very young babies became a very hot topic indeed.

The majority of mums I know have a weekly schedule of baby classes: baby music, baby sensory, baby swimming, baby signing, baby gym. This gives their week a similar structure to school attendance. I have nothing against people who do this, it’s just not the right approach for our family right now.

I was told off recently by another mother, who warned me gravely about the perils of not attending. Our daughter would not be socialised if she did not attend the classes, and this would impact negatively on her long-term development. I suddenly felt like I needed to justify myself and our choices.

Our daughter is four months old, and we have chosen not to attend baby classes right now. Here’s four reasons why.


1. Baby classes are expensive

In our area, baby classes are ~£19 for half an hour per week, making attendance ~£1000, per class, per year. Most mums I know attend between 3 and 8 classes per week. This is a lot of money.

We would rather use this money for something else.

2. Baby classes happen at a set time

Baby classes in our area are held at a specific time each week, booked and paid for in advance, often in blocks of five or six.

We would rather we have more flexibility than this whilst our baby is young. I breastfeed our baby responsively, and we do not follow a specific schedule with her. Her eating and nap times vary day to day, and committing to specific slots a long way in advance is tricky.

3. We prefer learning opportunities in more natural environments

Much of the marketing information for baby classes describes the classes’ unique opportunities for the babies to learn and develop.

We would rather our daughter learns and develops in environments that are a part of our normal day to day life, including our home and local area. For example, she is developing her vision by looking at leaves when we go for a walk; and she is developing her auditory discrimination whilst we do house jobs. This feels most meaningful to us.

4. We prefer baby-led play and development

Many people attending baby classes seem very focused on ‘developing’ the babies, as an adult-directed process that happens in a specific way, using specific items.

We prefer to be led by our baby and her enjoyment: what activities she chooses; how she engages and explores; and how she learns. We observe her and start with what she is doing, finding ways to play that we all enjoy. We aren’t comparing her to a developmental checklist; trying to push her to develop into the next stage; or comparing her responses to specific toys.

Our baby enjoys different activities when she is in different moods, which is often linked to how much she has eaten or slept. We respond to our baby’s moods and interests, rather than basing activities on a schedule. For example, if our baby is feeling sociable and energetic, she may enjoy playing an ‘anticipation’ game that makes her giggle and squeal. If she is tired then she may prefer a cuddle and a story book.


We may alter these perspectives and approaches as our baby grows up, but we are very happy with this as our approach for now.


I’d love to hear about you!

Did you attend classes with your baby, or free style more?


wholemealmum

Mother of a baby girl, born in July 2021. Finding my way with it all. Recipes, parenting, and walking.

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