Baby Classes: Which Are Right For Your Child?
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From her first words to her first movements, your baby's constantly amazing you. Most parents assume they have a little genius on their hands—but does that mean you should be enrolling your little one in baby classes that claim to help her grow and develop? While heading to a "mommy and me" music class might be a great way to spend the afternoon, there's really no proof that going to a music class will turn your baby into a tiny Mozart.
There are plenty of classes and groups available for you and your baby from local companies, community services and even gyms and fitness centers. If you're interested in signing your baby up for a class, you should know which are the best for your babe and which you should skip.
Are there any proven benefits? The jury's still out. While the classes probably won't give your baby an edge when it's time to apply for preschools, infant and child educator Dylan Glanzer believes they contribute to proper socialization. "I believe it is very beneficial and in fact necessary to a baby's development during the first two years of life to have experience with music, stimulating activities, and engaging age-appropriate socialization," she says. "In my 'Mommy & Me' class, I see the children, who start as young as 15 months, go from completely self-involved playing with toys to actively participating with me during circle time!"
If you're a total Beethoven buff, signing your baby up for a music class is a no-brainer. In a music class, you can expect to be led in songs and finger play. Instruments might also be used to grab baby and toddler attention. Since these classes can be noisy, they're probably best for older babies and toddlers who like to be stimulated—and don't mind loud noises. Expect to harmonize with the group too—parent involvement's usually required, so don't feel sheepish when you're asked to belt out a rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with your toddler. If anything, you'll get plenty of ideas of songs that calm your unruly baby or toddler at home—totally worth the registration fee.
While the CDC doesn't have any specific requirements for baby activity until age 2, allowing your baby to stay active can help her burn out some energy and keep her stimulated. Swim classes are especially effective, since water is usually soothing for even the tiniest of babies. Since babies under 3 aren't usually eligible for swimming lessons, you'll be in the water too, swishing around chubby baby legs and making for a positive first experience with water and swimming. Once your 3-year-old is ready to begin swimming lessons in earnest, she'll be happier in the water if she's already been exposed to it in her swimming classes. Plus, if you have a pool or jacuzzi in your backyard, the earlier your baby's exposed to water safety lessons, the better!
Your baby might not be so zen at 3 a.m., but that doesn't mean she wouldn't enjoy some stretching and breathing exercises. In fact, it might be the perfect way for both of you to unwind after eating battles and a round of stinky diapers. Baby yoga is usually centered around adapted poses (called asanas) that are done with your baby. From downward dog to warrior pose, even small infants can benefit from a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Since it's easy to try some of the poses at home together, the relaxation doesn't have to stop when you leave class.