Baby groups

(29 Posts)
Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 07:48:38

I was reading another thread about the poster feeling awkward at a baby group.

My DS is 10 weeks old and I feel too awkward to even go to one. I wouldn't even know where to start finding one that might suit us. I feel like my DS should socialise with other children at some point (I realise it's early days!) but other than 2 friends I already have with babies (not that nearby, I've seen each of them once since DS was born and they both go back to work soon) I really don't know where to start meeting other parents.

When I finish mat leave my DP will be a SAHD so I suppose we would ideally like to meet people with similar aged kids that he feels comfortable with too (but, alas, he's as socially awkward as me, we're a good match!).

Honestly the thought of just "inserting" myself into a group of strangers (in RL, on the internet is fine!) just fills me with palpitations. It's one of the reasons I avoided ante natal groups too... I feel like I "should" but I'm too scared. (I don't think I'm shy, really, just awkward... really really awkward).

I'm in a baby-heavy bit of London, so I'm sure there's no shortage of groups. Any tips on where to start looking for something that might suit me & DP, please? I've googled and get "mum & baby" and "bump & baby" groups locally, but it gives me the fear just thinking about rocking up:- will it be weird if I go with DP? What if no-one talks to me? Do I have to pay? I feel sick just thinking about it, but worry that DS is spoilt for adult company (we're both at home until the end of this year) and no baby company... and will end up as socially awkward as his parents!!

3DcAndMe Mon 21-Apr-14 07:55:37

I have never been to a baby group in my life

I was just turned 20 when I had my first but looked much younger, the local baby group was held at the same place as baby weigh in so I would see the mums in there. They were all much older than me and I felt I would stick out like a sore thumb.

Several of these mums now have dc in the same class as my eldest! Yes they are much older than me but the ones I have spoken to are very pleasant.

I think I was afraid of being judged or patronised! Also unsure of the "rules" as you say.

I think you should give it a go. If you don't like it it's no loss really is it

At that age I enjoyed rhyme time at the library with mine - I'd stay afterwards and feed DC which was a good opportunity to chat to others but without any pressure of being at a toddler group. You can ask the other parents for group recommendations there too?

badidea Mon 21-Apr-14 08:04:35

I feel your pain! I was also horrified by the thought of baby groups/mums and toddlers as I don't know anyone in our small town and had visions of sitting on the edges with no-one to speak to.

However, I have been to some and did find that they're much friendlier than you think. Basically your baby is your best talkign point. People will ask his name, how old he is - you ask the same of their babies - thats the ice breakers and once you've done that, generally it's fine.

I would advise not going with your DP though - I went with mine a few times and found that we tended to get left alone as a couple (people maybe thinking we wanted to talk couple stuff??) whereas when I've went alone, people have talked to me.

I would also say with DS2, I only took him to groups once or twice before he was six months, when I decided to up them as he was then getting more interested in other babies/things. He's 10 months now and for the last month I'm managing 2-3 groups a week, so don't feel any rush to drag him along to baby class now - he's still a young baby and at this age I think groups are really for the mums. Once he gets more active and can sit up I think babies then start to get stuff out of the groups, so you could always just leave it a while?

Of the three groups I go to, my favourite one is our local feeding group (think its called a bfeeding support group as the local authority needs to be seen to be supporting bfeeding, but really any woman with a baby can go whether its breast or formula). It's just babies, the chairs are in a circle for easy chatting with toys in the middle, the family support worker is there and chats to new folk and keeps conversatsion going and I found it a nice 'in' before expanding to do the mums and toddlers groups.

If there are tonnes of groups near you, just try a few, you don't have to stay long. First time I went to the feeding group I had left my change bag (doh!) so only stayed 30 minutes, but you get the feel for the place and know whether you'll like it.

Good luck and stay calm, it's not as bad as you think (and if you find one that is that bad, just leave and find another!)

gamerchick Mon 21-Apr-14 08:11:34

You don't have to go yanno OP if you don't want to. I would rather grate my face off.

But if you want to dip your toe then just give one a try and take it from there.. there's bound to be one you may like but they really aren't compulsory.

Also don't worry about just rocking up.. These groups need people to attend to stay open, they are always happy to see a new face.

With my eldest now 16, I must have tried a dozen or so baby groups before I found one I was comfortable at.
Some I would walk into and walk straight back out again some I attended a couple of times before realising that group wasn't for me - thick skinned blush I live in a city with a high level of immigration and have actually been told that the group I have been attending isn't actually meant for white mothers who already spoke English blush

If you want to keep looking their are loads out there.
My youngest is 2. I have 4 children now. We go about once a month now when I feel guilty she is not getting the social time her brothers had.

satintaupe Mon 21-Apr-14 08:28:06

I never thought I'd go to a baby group as I'm socially awkward too, but I forced myself to go to one for my DD (people that know me were shocked!). I thought that if I hated it, I just wouldn't go back. However, I was pleasantly surprised - we both enjoyed it so we now go regularly. It is a group for babies under one year and the room is laid out so no one will feel left out. The people there are really friendly. All having babies instantly gives you something in common to talk about.

highlove Mon 21-Apr-14 08:34:50

Rather the a drop-in, perhaps look for something with a bit of structure/focus like a baby massage or baby signing course. That way you don't actually have to chat or make small talk but it would be a chance to introduce your baby to other little ones. And there's often coffee afterwards but by then you've got something to talk about.

Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 08:36:15

Thanks so much all, I know I don't HAVE to go, I just worry that my close social circle is pretty much child-free. I do know I'm just being a wimp, and glad to know there are other people out there that have to drum up a bit of courage.

I'm Ffeeding so would feel even more of an almighty doofus at the Bfeeding group, I think!

Maybe once I've sussed out a friendly one, I might be able to gently persuade DP into taking turns!

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Mon 21-Apr-14 08:37:14

I first went to a Baby Massage class at my local children's centre, and then I stayed on every week for the baby social group. It was different people every week, as the older ones would leave and the younger ones would join, so it wasn't like a clique you had to break in to. I really enjoyed both of the groups I went to, and found a few friendly faces.
I was easily the youngest mother at both groups but no one ever made me feel unwelcome.

badidea Mon 21-Apr-14 08:41:55

tango there are quite often fathers/grandfathers who attend our local baby and toddlers group - but I'd imagine your DP is probably more scared of this than you are :-) However, women do tend to take pity on the few men there and usually try and engage them in chat (not sure if you're in london (with everything going on there) if there are even some 'dad only' groups?

bakingaddict Mon 21-Apr-14 08:51:32

I've always found that when new people turn up at a baby group and that includes myself the play group co-ordinators are really good at making new people feel welcome. I go regularly to my local SureStart one and I always make an effort to talk to any new people because it can be daunting to see loads of other mums sitting chatting together. Once you've gone a few times you'll know if it's for you

Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 08:52:39

Thanks badidea , I'm sure there must be a dad/baby group somewhere, but I'm also pretty sure DP would baulk at the idea. :-) I'm going to be brave and then shame DP into taking his turn.

(honestly, we're not weird shut-ins, just not v good at groups of total strangers - our poor DS!)

rootypig Mon 21-Apr-14 08:59:47

God I am a baby group hound. I love them. They fill the days, give DD fun things to do and other kids to hit play with, get us out of the house, and give me adult conversation that I never otherwise get (this is the key part - lone parent). And cake.

OP where in London are you? SureStart centres vary enormously but the ones near us when DD was tiny were fantastic (Hackney). There were also lots of music and baby sensory type things - I found out about a lot of them on the noticeboard in the local posh children's clothes shop.

But of course if you don't have the burning need to constantly feel like you're doing something for your child, or you are relaxed and inspired enough to achieve this at home, then don't go!

itsonlysubterfuge Mon 21-Apr-14 09:00:32

My husband and I both have social anxiety and aren't very good at interacting with strangers. I hate doing the social thing when other parents come up and talk to me, but I just solider through for my DD. She is 21 months and is wonderful with people, she is a little social butterfly. When we went to the park she had no problem just walking up to people (adults and children) and butting her way into their group while my husband and I stood awkwardly behind her.

Not really sure if this is helpful or not. Just wanted to assure you that you are not the only one. We have gone to the local children's centre for baby play group. If you feel really uncomfortable the first time you go, you can just walk out and not go back. We found it okay when we went. It was mostly just an opportunity for our DD to play with new toys. There are other Mums there that use it for ignoring their children socialising, but my DH and I used it as an exploring with our DD time.

MaryWestmacott Mon 21-Apr-14 09:04:55

OP - remember, most of the woman in this baby groups did not know anyone else who had a baby at the same time, so are full of woman just like you. Also feeling a bit out of place and really hoping someone nice talks to them, you can go be that nice person!

Did you do any antenatal classes at all?

I would start with something with an activity to focus on, the 'baby bounce and rhyme' that are run at most libraries is a good start, limited chatting time before you have to do something. Baby massage is another good one for that - often sure start centres run classes.

when your baby is a bit bigger, you could look at things like sing and sign or baby sensory.

To start with for general baby groups, I'd look for ones that are just for babies, not babies and toddlers, you are more likely to meet woman on mat leave rather than woman who have a baby and an older child, which is a group who are more likely to have made friendships already, so will walk into a group and start chatting to woman they already know. It's easier to break into those groups.

Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 09:12:45

I'm in East Sheen.

That's really helpful itsonlysubterfuge to know that other people soldier through, every other mum in the local cafes seems so calm and breezy and I'm all puke-encrusted and unkempt.

Might weigh him at the next clinic as an excuse to check out the noticeboards / try and strike up conversation (will also try the baby shops - thanks rootypig) and look up the SureStart centre. If I really can't get on with the groups I shall think no more of it, but feel I have to try!

Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 09:17:49

Thanks marywestmacott - I didn't do ante natal for all the exact same reasons ... But now DS is here it's not about me!

Will see what activity based sessions I can find. I'm feeling more confident already, amazing what a bit of online reassurance that I'm not the only awkward person can do!!

Lots of local NCT groups run "bumps and babies" type groups for parents with new babies. They can be a bit calmer than toddler type groups. Visit www.nct.org.uk and look under Branches and Events for your postcode.

And Children's Centres are great.

MaryWestmacott Mon 21-Apr-14 09:26:56

Good luck! I would say you might need to throw a bit of money at this in the short term, paying for classes rather than just drop in baby groups because you might be better in a smaller setting with an activity. Heartbeeps is another nation wide and good baby class.

Things like that tend to be good for Dads too, it's less akward that they are the only man there if they have an activity to do.

Worth making a note of every church in your area and having a look at their notice boards about what groups/classes are going on.

Another good one is something like buggy exercise classes, I did one called "Fit mums" but don't think that's a nation wide chain, however you'll find classes in most parts of the country, that's also good because rarely woman go as a group, and again, it's an activity so limited chatting time. The instructor will partner you up with someone regularly for exercises, which will be based on abilty, not how well you know them. And even if you don't meet any friends from it, at least you'll get your pre-baby shape back from it, so not a total waste of money!

WhatAHooHa Mon 21-Apr-14 09:36:41

I felt exactly the same, painfully shy in new situations and didn't know how to start. In the end, I bumped into the same woman two or three times at our midwife clinic (for jabs and a health check), got chatting about our babies (same age) and realised we both felt the same so arranged to go to one together, so at least we had one person to talk to!

Does this sound like a possible place to start for you?

if not, I would say just bite the bullet - go to a group and hunt out other mums with young babies. IME, as long as you admire their baby a suitable amount any new mum will be happy to talk to you!

Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 09:46:01

Thanks Mrscakes - it's not where I go for clinic but it's close enough. I can't believe I hadn't found that for myself (I really haven't been trying, have I?)

And, yes, whatahooha I think maybe attempting to pick someone up at clinic might be an idea, although someone chatted to me last time and I mumbled a suitable response and ran away... pathetic. Determined to put more effort in next time, poor woman was probably just after company too! :-(

Tangoandcreditcards Mon 21-Apr-14 09:49:33

And MaryWestmacott thanks - I'm not sure about the fit classes (my pre-baby shape was nothing to write home about, haha).

But small activity-based groups might be worth the ££s if it gets me, DP and DS integrated into parental society!

WhatAHooHa Mon 21-Apr-14 09:57:51

Probably - we're all jn the same boat, apart from those few that have grown up in the area and have babies at the same time as all their friends. And those tend not to bother with the groups as much, as far as I can see.

We go to baby/toddler groups everyday now - ds loves them and it means I actually get an adult conversation between the hours of 7 and 6, which wouldn't happen otherwise (no family or friends in the area). Initially, I found it easiest not to assume other mums would necessarily be friends but more like work colleagues - people to pass the time with and talk about your shared experiences whilst you get on with your 'job'. Helped me feel less desperate when I initiated conversations with them!

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