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Baby/toddler groups - when to go

(21 Posts)
TrickyTreeLou Tue 07-May-13 12:34:45

My first DS is 4 weeks old.

I've had a difficult pregnancy - my H cleared off days before I found out I was pregnant, so in that respect I'm on my own. However, I've had lots of support from family, friends and neighbours. I'm not really a group person - my idea of hell is walking into a room where I don't know anyone, so I'm not sure they're for me anyway.

My HV came last week and gave me loads of leaflets about baby groups/activities. It felt a bit overwhelming.

At the moment I'm still very much learning the ropes, still trying to catch up on sleep, eat properly, take DS out for daily walks etc. I've also still got visitors coming round to see DS 2 or 3 times a week.

I think I'll try it when DS is 2 or 3 months old when he's a bit bigger and I know what I'm doing a bit more.

When did you go to baby groups? Did you go? Did you find them useful?

Any advice appreciated, thank you.

glorious Tue 07-May-13 12:47:24

Congratulations on your DS. I think it's a really personal thing depending on your baby and how you feel (and how easy things are to get to). Do you know others with small babies locally? My first outings were to meet people from antenatal classes which was less pressured than a brand new class. I've been doing formal things since about 8 weeks and DD is now 13 weeks. I got to the point where I needed company and something new to do. Probably you'll feel like that at some point too and that'll be the right time. But some people never go to classes as such and that's fine too.

notso Tue 07-May-13 12:56:00

You don't have to go at all if you don't want to. I certainly wouldn't force yourself to go because HV thinks it's the right thing to do.
With my first DD I went once when she was 6 months old and she got hit over the head by a 3 year old and I didn't go back. She went to playgroup at 2.6 but nothing in between.
DS1 didn't go either, I had a friend with a son the same age so we just met up at the park and soft play.
A mum from school invited DS2 and I to a lovely one when he was 8 weeks and now I have DS3 it is invaluable.
My older two were happy just pottering around at home but DS2 gets fed up with this. DS2 is very sociable and active and enjoys the company of other children.
There is only 16 months between DS2&3 and it was great in the early days to go somewhere knowing DS2 was happy and occupied while I sat drinking tea and BFing for 2 hours was great.

MiaowTheCat Tue 07-May-13 20:00:53

Whenever YOU want to go and are confident enough to get out and about is the only real answer isn't it?

Some groups are great, some groups are shit, some groups start off great and become shit and vice versa. What about ringing the local children's centre (assuming you've got one near you) explaining what you said about the idea of walking into a room of people and seeing if they'll show you round during an informal type session or similar as a first-step? (Ours does pop in and plays a few times a week where things are open and staff are about but it's just rock up if you feel like it for a bit rather than a formal group).

TiredyCustards Tue 07-May-13 20:04:18

I would go when your ds starts walking, that's when he'll be able to have a go on everything and you won't worry about him being stepped on/tripped over.

If it's for you, I'd go to a small church hall type one, and free form rather than an activity so you actually get a chance to chat to other mums.

Notsoyummymummy1 Tue 07-May-13 21:05:06

It's very early days so don't worry about going to groups right now - you need time to get into your own routine and feel more confident in your new role. I went to a group quite early, after just a couple of months and found it too stressful as I kept forgetting things and feeling stressed if her naps were being delayed or if she got grizzly. Then when she was six months I did a baby massage course and that was nice because it was a small group and having an activity to do kind of broke the ice a bit rather than just going into a room and having to think of something to say to complete strangers when you're so tired you can't even remember what your name is!! I tried a couple of the standard mums and tots groups after that - a couple I hated as they were overcrowded and nobody talked to me but them I found a nice local one where the mums were friendlier. I still go to that group each week and I also take dd to a little music class once a week (she's 14 months) then family visit the rest of the week and I find that's enough for us at the moment. Groups are good if you need to get out of the house and break your week up but go with an open mind and try them at least twice before you give up on them. You may need to try a few before you find one you like and try to go for ones with some kind of activity going on as it makes it all easier as you have something to talk about. They can be very dull, the tips you get can be very helpful, you might meet your new best friend there but if you have a couple of people you can talk to for a bit then you've done well!!! Remember though groups aren't for everyone and you are all the stimulation your child needs in the first year so don't worry about your little one missing out. I have to force myself to go sometimes, bit like going to the gym, but I tend to feel better for it and dd enjoys it now she's older. Right now though don't fret too much about groups unless you feel it would benefit you - am sure you have enough on your plate right now!

YBR Tue 07-May-13 21:47:51

I think I went with DD from very young, 2 months perhaps, but I had DH with me for support (now a SAHD) and one group was at a church we go to anyway.
I found some of the toddler groups don't really cater for babies - no space to keep them separate from the energetic toddlers.

When you have the energy to go out start trying them out and find out what suits you and your DC. If you can find someone you know it helps.

Wishfulmakeupping Tue 07-May-13 21:53:36

My dd is 14 weeks and I feel like I 'should' be going but dont feel ready to just yet- been meeting other mums I know in the park or for a coffee but still trying to gear myself up to a proper baby group!

olivertheoctopus Tue 07-May-13 21:57:26

Never. I hated stuff like that. Ok if baby music so actual focus/thing to do but sitting round talking babies with people I don't know is v much not my cup of tea antisocial old trout

Fairylea Tue 07-May-13 21:57:32

I have two dc, one is 10 years and one is 11 months and I have never set foot in any baby group! I'm hideously anti social in real life and it just didn't appeal to me... both are turning out fine and dd is extremely social!

Don't feel pressure to do anything. I didn't even see a health visitor once they discharged me at 6 weeks!

Passmethecrisps Tue 07-May-13 22:00:44

Echoing the sentiment of when you are ready.

I started when my DD was 3 months old. We have a fab mum and toddler group which runs 3 days a week for 2 hours a day. It is very informal - no sign-up required so no commitment. The staff are superb and know who to introduce newbies to. I started by going to this every day it was on in one week. By the end of the week I felt much more practiced at the greetings and social niceties.

I now go to a few things every week - DD is 6 months. It is only now that it is as much about her. I still find it hard and I struggle to move on from the introductory blather. But I do enjoy them and I am glad I made the move.

nonamenewname Wed 08-May-13 10:59:25

I was a lot like you (single mother with supportive family and friends, and completely not a group person). I didn't start going to groups til he was about 6mo, that was about the point where the need to get out and about and speak to an adult at least once a day overtook my preference to avoid groups of people I don't know...
I generally go for unstructured things (ie just 'baby group', not baby music or storytime or whatever) because I think that suits us both better. And even now (13mo) where he's clearly really enjoying getting out, playing with other toys and watching other children, I still only go to a couple a week and prefer to meet up with friends whenever I can - some have children and others don't, it's definitely me seeing my friend and my son being v welcome rather than 'mummy friends' or playdates - hanging onto that for as long as I can!
This is way too long, sorry - my point was, do what's good for you for as long as you can - groups can be a great way of meeting local mums and esp as a LP can be sanity-savers - but when they feel so overwhelming, it's not the right time yet imo! Congrats on your new baby.

TrickyTreeLou Wed 08-May-13 13:34:14

Thank you, I appreciate hearing everyone's experiences.

I have a lot of friends but most are working during the week. I have one birthing friend who was keen to meet up but I texted her and I haven't heard back yet.

I very much like the idea of ringing up first and saying to the group leader that I'm new and a bit shy and could she introduce me. That sounds great.

To be honest I'm still struggling to find my confidence with my baby in front of good friends, so it IS too early for me.

I also am worried about standing out. I'm on my own and around here it's quite 'yummy mummy'. Stupid I know,... confused

GingerDoodle Wed 08-May-13 14:14:00

Hey

I've taken DD to a coffee/drink/lunch meet with my NCT girls since she was born as we were doing it pre-birth anyway. I probably wouldn't have if I had not already known them tbh.

I've taken her to Baby Sensory since she was 3/4 months and really enjoy it - its teacher led and baby centred so no real need to get very pally if your not that type. Its also 5 minutes from my house and fits well with nap times.

I haven't really bothered with any other classes before now (7mo) because tbh a lot of them either seemed for older babies or social for mums which didn't appeal.

So in short; do what feels right for you and your mini smile

plantsitter Wed 08-May-13 14:18:25

The baby won't get anything in particular out of them at this stage. So you only need to go if YOU want to and are feeling up to it.

Don't know where you are but our local NCT has post natal classes. That might be a good place to meet other mums/dads with tiny ones IF you feel like it.

ChunkyChicken Wed 08-May-13 14:33:01

I went to a local baby group when DD was about 9wo, as that was the first time I felt I was ready. It was a group that catered for babies up to a yr, & as it happened, there were a few other mums with babies just a few wks older than DD, also in need of a social group as they only had 'work' friends. I keep in touch with the vast majority of them & have a couple of good friends from it.

I would never have pictured myself as a 'baby group' person but I found it was a great alternative to visiting my family & actually gave me something to do during the week - forced me to get out & not just fret about housework. Also, it was a reasonable walk away (not far, but far enough to get 10mins fresh air) so it only cost £1 to do plus I got a bit of exercise.

I also tried some of the Sure Start groups but they weren't for me. If it had been baby sensory, yoga or massage, then I might have gone regularly, but as it was, I gave the groups a few tries, but I had nothing in common with the other mums.

I now go to a toddler group with my 3yo DD & nearly 6mo DS & miss the days of having DD laying on a playmat whilst I sat & drank tea!!

SimpleSi Wed 08-May-13 14:47:20

I went at when DD1 was about 4mths. To be honest she didn't get a lot out of it apart, it as more for me. As a SAHD I was worried about feeling isolated and at the time knew few other people with kids. I'd try and find something small with a regular crowd. Much as I personally think they are a subtle form of recruitment, church groups might be an option. Our local library group has a regular crowd with loads of babies who seem to enjoy the singing. You soon get to know a few more people and feel more comfortable. I've always found children's centres a bit boisterous. We did a paid swimming group that was ok, but involved little chatting and was more "yummy mummy."

Don't worry about what people think. As a SAHD I have found most people will not care or ask about partners till they have known you for a while.

Cakebaker35 Wed 08-May-13 20:20:30

Congratulations on your DS.

I went straight away, with hindsight it was a bit too full on as I'd had a tough birth/ emergency c section and we both had a few medical issues, but I was being a bit stubborn and wanted to get on with things. I was knackered and sometimes stressed out by going tbh. But I absolutely suggest just small meet ups rather than big groups early on if you can as having others to talk to who are in the same boat really helped me a lot - family and friends are great of course but meeting others with little ones of similar ages can be so helpful and give you confidence as you soon realise everyone is just muddling along as best they can in the early days!

It is definitely worth looking up your local children's centre and just popping along when you feel up to it, I found the people who run these really welcoming and helpful, they are informal and not so intimidating as a 'class'.

I would only sign up to play groups/ activities once you feel you've found your feet a bit, or have met some people to go along with as that helps too.

If you feel unwelcome at a group then go somewhere else, it's taken me a while to realise there are some great groups out there but a few rubbish ones too!

Good luck x

JollyOrangeGiant Wed 08-May-13 20:28:08

We started going when DS was 3-4 months. It was only then that we were able to be up, clean and dressed in a reasonable time.

The best thing is being able to talk to others about how you're feeling, how little sleep you're getting, how you went round sainsbury's the other day with puke all over your shoulder and didn't notice until you got home... it just all feels a bit more normal and less isolated.

But you don't have to go to these things. Remember, in the early months groups are for your benefit and not for babies as little ones don't get very much out of the groups. So if YOU are not enjoying them then don't go back to that one.

TrickyTreeLou Fri 10-May-13 08:40:49

"We started going when DS was 3-4 months. It was only then that we were able to be up, clean and dressed in a reasonable time."

Yes, I can understand that. It seems to be a major feat at the moment having a shower,.......!

Think I'll look into it at 2-3 months. He was a small baby, I had a c section and am now struck down with tonsillitis sad so I'm not going to rush into anything just yet for either of us.

Thanks for all the advice. thanks

Barbeasty Sat 11-May-13 17:12:24

If you want to get out sooner then have a look for groups just for babies. Maybe something like an NCT bumps & babies group or my local children's centres run run groups for babies up to 18 months.

Does your library do any nursery rhyme sessions? They can be good.

Once you go to one or two local groups, you'll start seeing the same faces at a few, and people will recommend more.

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