Mommy and Me classes provide educational and social opportunities for you and your baby – and they’re fun! Most sites will offer free trial classes, so you’ll have an opportunity to see what kind of class your child enjoys before purchasing a membership. Keep in mind that Mommy and Me is a misnomer. Dads, grandparents, or other caretakers are welcome to participate with baby. Our Long Island Mama Rachel Presner attended several Mommy and Me classes in Nassau County and had this to say about them:
Birds Class at Little Gym in Merrick
Turn your baby upside-down every day. It’s important for their muscular and eye development. Parents that enroll in Little Gym learn this, and other interesting tidbits. Our teacher opened by reviewing his weekly sign language lessons. We sang an introductory song and started our class. The highlight was the Air Track: a large air mattress that challenged baby muscles as they sat, crawled, stood, and walked on it. Much like using a yoga ball, the Air Track strengthens a baby’s core.
We spent some time exploring the gym. The babies climbed and tumbled. The teacher brought out kick balls to bounce on. He blew bubbles, and the babies chased them around the room. Singing concluded the class.
Little Gym has classes for children between 4 months and 12 years of age. The Mommy and Me classes (called Birds, Beasts, Super Beasts) run six days a week at different times, so finding one that works with your schedule is simple. For older children, there are dance, gymnastics, and karate classes.
There are several Little Gym sites on Long Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. There are a few options for tuition payment, and pricing varies slightly by site. If you have more than one child, Little Gym also offers sibling discounts.
Little Gym Merrick 2128 Merrick Mall Merrick, NY 11566-3626 (516) 223-4008
Music I at Gymboree in Westbury
Gymboree Westbury hides in back of the Source Mall, across from the parking garage. It’s a little island of activity in the otherwise quiet mall. The gym area itself is bright and cheerful and decorated in primary colors. Our music room was a second, smaller area that probably doubled as their art class.
This class has a multicultural twist. The music and instruments were from several countries and cultures. Our teacher brought out a drum first, which the babies enjoyed. We danced with them in a circle. They were allowed to make their own “music” on smaller drums filled with beads. Small kick balls were incorporated into the lesson, which gave the babies a chance to interact with each other.
Gymboree had a totally different style than others I’ve seen. Other children’s classes spend time focusing on the actual music. Here, the songs were simple and repetitive and accompanied by another activity. It was an interesting approach that kept a baby’s attention while still introducing basic musical concepts.
Music classes are offered for children ages 6 months to 5 years. They are separated by age. Classes run several times a week. Pricing varies depending on the number of children enrolled and the kind of enrollment package that you purchase.
Play and Learn 3 at Gymboree in Westbury
The class began with open play. My daughter had the chance to explore the entire gym. There were mats to roll on, foam stairs to climb, slides… it must have been hard to decide which toy to start with.
The class opened and closed with music. Other songs throughout the class were easy and meant to signal things like cleaning up. The structure of the class was a bit looser than others I’ve attended, but this suited older babies. So did the games we played: pee-a-boo with props, a puppet clown, and a large foam cylinder that the children could push (if they were able to pull themselves into a standing position).
Play and Learn classes are open to newborns to 3 year-olds. In the 0-6 month class, there’s also additional time set aside
for discussion, giving new parents opportunities to connect with each other. If you have a group of 10 or more friends, you can host your get –together at Gymboree.
Gymboree Westbury 1504 Old Country Road (Source Mall) Westbury, NY 11590 (516) 542-6147
Mother Goose at the East Meadow Public Library
Local libraries are often overlooked as potential outings for families with babies. They’re local (which is always a bonus if you have a baby that’s not a fan of car rides) and almost always free. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to introduce your child to the wonderful world of books.
We enrolled in the Mother Goose program. The class was capped at fifteen children and their caretakers. We were introduced to songs and nursery rhymes. The class was held in a reading room, so we didn’t have to worry about disturbing other library patrons. The babies enjoyed themselves. They had so much fun; they didn’t realize that the class was actually educational. These early literacy programs are the first step in helping a child become a lifelong reader.
There are different kinds of classes, and they run year-round for different age groups. The only drawback to a library-based Mommy and Me is its popularity. Check the library website and register as soon as possible, or you may get closed out.
East Meadow Library 1886 Front Street East Meadow, NY 11554-1700 (516) 794-2570
DIY Mommy and Me
Mommy and Me classes are wonderful. They provide stimulation for baby and give their caretaker a chance to get out of the house. But… enrolling in these classes can cost several hundred dollars or more, and for some families, there just isn’t room in the budget. So why not do it yourself? The required materials are generally inexpensive and easy to find. You can
customize your activities to the children’s developmental needs and interests.
There are a few key ingredients: friends with children, snacks, some musical instruments, a few age-appropriate toys… and one brave parent willing to sacrifice their living room to a horde of marauding toddlers. Once you’ve nailed down a location, you need to plan a curriculum. (Note to non-teachers: this is not as intimidating as it sounds. Start with an objective. Then write down each step you’ll take to get there).
Developing your own class allows you to introduce some of your child’s interests to the others. If your child enjoys music, tailor a class to their favorite tunes. If you’ve got a future athlete on your hands, look at simple activities that help improve coordination and encourage tracking. Toys and instruments are easily found online or though networking sites like Facebook. With a little creativity, your homemade class can be every bit as enjoyable