Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are baby classes worth it? Experiences of a NYC new-mom

Phoenix and his muscles at My Gym.
Living in New York City with a baby (for 11 months in a one-bedroom apartment) I quickly realized how important baby classes are. Not just for my child's development but for my own sanity.

Our first stop was the library.

When Phoenix was just 6 weeks old we attended a free baby laptime at the library (gotta get their early to get a ticket though now since to popular), and continued to attend the sessions and will be experiences the toddler program soon at the Upper East Side Libraries. (We are new to the Upper East Side -two bedroom!-and having a blast discovering all the fun for families here. So lots more to share soon about the area and what we love about it, our favorite hot spots and the baby classes we are taking up here.)

So, we first enjoyed the Children's Center on Fifth Ave off 42nd street on the side of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, it's not the entrance of the two big iconic lions, on the right side of the building, then we started doing trial mommy and me classes at music classes and different classes around the city.  (Upset their aren't as many signature Daddy and Me but more on that later.)

After Googling and doing some online research Phoenix and I tried out music classes and playtimes and story times at Kids at Work, Music for Aardvarks, Gymboree, City Treehouse, The Scholastic Store, FAO Schwarz, baby swimming class at the YMCA and quickly ventured in baby gyms, as Phoenix started being ambitious to walk and waddle around at  9 months!

I didn't grow up with baby classes. I grew up in a backyard making mud pies and was totally happy with that but if you live in the city I do think baby classes can be ideal if they fit your budget. They are not cheap. I found a music class for $15 per class but that is unlikely for most. Apart of my wants to think this is "extra stuff" but it's also "important stuff" that I'm thankful we can afford because I really enjoy it, my mood enjoys it and  I look forward to taking Phoenix to these classes. Or sometimes I have a babysitter take him to the open play and I will work for an hour on my book.

We've seen a lot in a short time because I'm eager to stay busy, being at home stresses me out more than being out, we do art proejcts and read lots of books of course at home, but I love our baby classes and our schedule is busy...but not too busy...

We've done sessions at Jodi's Gym, My Gym and liked them a lot, we still do My Gym and this week start Kidville gym!

We will hit up the Art Farm in the City drop in program throughout the year because it's so precious how Phoenix reacts to animals, he lights up around them.

Along with The Carl Schurz Park playground, the Ancient Playground at 85th street and 5th in Central Park, John Jay Playground and many others.

Parents who think the city is not for kids are crazy, the city is PERFECT for raising and active child if you research and get out! Beyond classes, we visit Central Park almost every single day. There are so many great playgrounds and a lot of free fun too! And we especially love our Zoo membership!

At the Central Park Zoo earlier this week

We also love Madison Square Park (nice playground too) and Bryant Park (take a fun carousel-ride and check out the children's book reading nook), both have great open areas for your baby to crawl around and discover and you can sit down for a sec and relax!

Union Square as a great playground too across from Barnes and Noble.

This summer among all the playground sandbox adventures and being soaking wet daily with Phoenix in the many, many playground sprinklers we had an amazing 11 months of fun and discovery and the summer was AWESOME!

Our fall classes start this week. We are taking baby gym at Kidville and My Gym (my husband takes Todd on the weekends for some chillin with Dad time and I often take Phoenix to the open plays during the week. And we are planning to take music class at Sprout.

I really don't like paying more than $25 per class. But we have. I love it when I find a ten week session for under $300. For forty-five minutes or an hour of fun, discovery and learning,  it's not a cheap thing, and here are some tips on choosing a baby class and why classes can be ideal and why these classes save my sanity too.

*Find a class that fits your baby's stages and interests. Even a baby 4-6 months can start taking baby classes, sometimes even newborns, there's also great baby and me Yoga at Karma Kids Yoga. Music class is a great start for baby classes. The babies become so alert and intrigued by the guitar and music sticks and shakers. (*Of course they will want to chew them. It will happen, it will so I find it's best to get your baby to chew on the same musical instrument during the class or a few of the same ones so not every baby has chewed on every toy. You can't stop germs, it's life, strengthen their immune system, they might get a cough or running nose, it's annoying as a parent but not enough reason for us not to attend.)

I also like a music class with the instructor singing with a guitar or instrument, not a cd player. Um, show me something I can't do at home for my kid!

*Let's be friends! Your baby will get used to being around other babies and making friends, sharing and taking turns, and it will melt your heart when your baby hands another baby his music shaker and wants to share. Or watch as all the babies sit on the BIG drum or lean against it and feel the vibrations all together. It's great for your baby to SEE other babies and different adorable faces. :)

Phoenix at Kids at Work music class.

*Find a class YOU want to attend, for me baby classes keep me upbeat, bring out my peppy-side and I get to bond with my son and share the experience with him, which is fun. Music classes involve sitting down with your baby and a teacher/singer instructs the class. It's more relaxing and calm experience.

It keeps us busy and keeps us moving, we don't sit around we are always go, go, go. Unless we are at the library or a storytime or Phoenix is letting me duck into a Sephora or store for a few minutes. :)

-I think music class also teaches your child how to listen, be observant, notice their surroundings, allows them to touch and feel the vibrations of the drums, shakers and guitars, great for motor skills and social skills too as your baby plays with the other babies and shares the instruments.

-Baby Gym is very hands on you have to watch your baby, it can be very busy, crowded, lots of other babies exploring, it's sort of a work out for you as a parent because you will be also running around up the ramps, through tunnels, breaking a sweat while running around the room keeping up with your kid or trying to inspire your baby to get up, crawl, and MOVE!

Phoenix (10 months here) at Jodi's Gym.

* Parenting can be stressful, VERY! For a new-Mom and Dad. Baby classes force a parent to be a bit less stressed, because you're sort of forced to be happy and chill out with your kid. The atmosphere inspires a togetherness and calmness.

Classes inspire parents to be patient and be alert and teaches parents how to also "be silly and play" with their baby in an educational and developmental way that is fun and easy. Also, at the class every other parent is also staring at you as you all sit in a circle or whatever, so it inspires you to want to be relaxed and have a good experience and do the best to help you both enjoy the class. There are other babies around you, 10-12 sometimes, so yes if your baby pukes up or starts screaming and crying everyone will see and it actually forces you as a parent to take a deep breath, "...awww, it's okay baby and it's okay mommy, we all have been there, we all are in the same boat." Because you can't scream also OMG! :)

We bought Phoenix a set of drums and a tambourine and shakers after seeing his response to how much he loves music, now at 11 months he dances! He shakes and moves whenever music is heard.

*You can make some Mommy/Daddy friends. I don't have many friends with kids so the baby classes are a place for me to chat it up a little about being a parent and discuss also what's trendy in babyland.(But not chat a whole lot though, I don't like parents who ONLY go to baby class to chat with other moms, WTF, not for me and it's rude when we are in the middle of class and parents or nannies are chatting about whatever they are chatting about.)

Instead of looking for the hottest place to eat or go out for a wild night I'm obsessed with finding baby classes and events and deals!  Here are some places I visit daily:









~Isobella & Phoenix


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