So rather than new year, new me, I started 2018 focusing on all the new great things baby M could, should and would hopefully do in his first year of life (see 2018: A Year of Firsts). One of the main things I wanted baby M to experience was play and interaction with other babies, which is where Hartbeeps comes in.
I’d been looking at various classes, including the council baby massage and yoga classes which ultimately book out in about 5 seconds flat (where are these parents that are so bloody organised?!) So decided to see what else was on offer in our area. Hartbeeps immediately caught my attention as it focuses on baby play and letting them learn and explore at their own pace. Whilst other classes also offer this, it felt a bit different from the yoga and massage which focus on tested techniques with specific results – for example, some massage elements help digestion, breathing and so on, whilst some yoga moves help with the development of things like rolling, coordination and so on. So Hartbeeps essentially seemed like a break from all of that and a chance for baby M to have an hour to play with mum and a bunch of fun songs and toys to boot.
Our first class was on 12th January and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there would be songs and bright colours but that was about it. Laura, the instructor, (or teacher? I’m not sure what the right term is!) was so friendly and welcoming right from the off. She explained the class was about mum and baby and not to worry about things like running late or sleeping babies. She also made it clear that this was a place for both mum and baby to forget about whatever else was going on that day or in general – no worries about laundry or groceries or visitors or anything. This class is designed as an escape for mum just as much as for baby.
What happens at class
Doesn’t necessarily stay at class. Parents are encouraged to continue play outside and sing the songs at home. Though part of the reason I signed up for Baby Bells is that it’s so easy not to play that way at home. Things like phonecalls and listen and cooking and all sorts distract us from getting completely lost in play. Also, I feel like I should always be doing something else. Play is most definitely vital for babies needs, growth and development but I was brought up to believe that play was what you did after all the other work/chores/school etc were finished. So I’m usually doing a load of washing or tidying up around baby M while we’ve got toys and playmats and all sorts out. I feel bad if I do and bad if I don’t!
Everything at Baby Bells was laid out and colourful, with mats arranged in a circle round the room. There are soft fleecy mats for baby to lie on and lovely circular ones for mum’s to plonk our bums on. In the centre of the room is the sparkly sunshine, containing a trove of baby fun underneath. With actual baby bells* and bubble machines and lights and feathers and much more, it’s hard to see how babies couldn’t get all their senses going at these classes.
*sleigh bells on a rattle
Each class has it’s own theme, whether that be pirates and treasure or dinosaurs or anything in between. Songs and play then follow that theme. Basically each class is good for their imagination as no two weeks are the same. Some songs do get repeated (this is good for memory) but generally the set up remains the same with the journey different each time.
- Songs are sung with actions which can include baby yoga or massage techniques, brilliant for development. There are familiar nursery rhymes like round and round the garden.
- Dress up is one of my favourite parts not least because it provides a great photo opportunity. From sweatpants to frogs eyes and dinosaur tails, dress up accessories do wonders for the imagination and senses with new and different textures to touch
- Tummy time each week over the big tummy ring, your lap or with a towel; however baby is comfiest. There are light-up toys, mirrors, shiny paper and different textures to discover
- Quiet time at the end of class which involves putting out all the lights and having a lovely projected display, personal lights, bubbles and lullabies. This is perfect for calming baby after an exciting class and getting them ready for a nice long nap afterwards (thank you Hartbeeps!)
All in all, both Baby M and I absolutely loved Hartbeeps and now can’t wait for a Friday morning to go and play. All of the above benefits plus meeting other mums and babies makes for a happy wee boy and a happy mum going into the weekend. If there are Hartbeeps classes in your area I would strongly recommend giving them a go, particularly if you have someone like Laura taking the class.