As you can probably tell at this stage, Dylan and I love getting out and about. I think if I was to stay at home every day I’d slowly lose my sanity so we go out every day without fail. Sometime’s this is on one of our big adventures, but other times it can be as simple as a walk to the shops to get some milk. There’s always lots advertised for things to do with toddlers but I found it harder to find things to do with babies, particularly under 1 years so I thought I’d share some of our little adventures below; some fee paying classes and other free trips out.
Claphandies playlabs are hour long classes each week which promote learning through play, with activities such as rhyme time, music, movement and age appropriate challenging and fun activities. Classes are split into babylabs (6 weeks to crawling), wobbler labs (crawling to walking) and toddler labs (walking to 3 and a half years) to ensure they are age and more importantly stage appropriate. Claphandies have reduced their prices to €100 for 7 weeks so they are one of the fee paying activities on the list but they’re great fun and a good way to meet other mums in the area.
A little known secret is that on the first Tuesday of every month, IKEA run a free ClapHandies class in the restaurant section of their store here in Dublin as part of their Parent & Baby Events. You have to book your place in advance but it costs nothing and is a full hour class with a free tea/coffee/cake flung in at the end! If you live nearby it’s a great way to try out the Claphandies classes and take away ideas of games and activities to do with your baby at home.
If you want to incorporate a bit of fitness to your bonding time with your little one then baby yoga is a great option. Doing yoga with your baby means playing, gently stretching, singing, having fun, interacting together and then relaxing together. Regular yoga practice with baby will help to tone your own muscles and also help to bring harmony to your own body postnatally. Prices vary depending on instructor but Mum & Baby run their classes for €60 per term.
Mum & Baby Bootcamp
I’ll be honest I haven’t done any mum and baby bootcamps myself, I’d much rather be sitting in Starbucks with a latte and caramel slice!; but since I mentioned fitness related activities I thought I’d better slip it in for those with more motivation than myself! Classes are designed to allow mammy to get a good workout done without worrying about childcare as the babies are included in the class. Prices range depending on instructor but Mummy Bootcamp run sessions for €99 per term.
Another class which is a fantastic way to spend quality bonding time is baby massage. As a qualified baby massage instructor myself I didn’t actually take Dylan to a class as I do it at home myself with him, but it’s a fantastic way to learn a new skill with your baby while also socialising with other mums and babies in a welcoming and relaxing environment. Generally the classes are around €100 – €125 for a block of 5, however this includes the baby massage itself as well as an hour after for coffee, cakes and a good natter with the other mammies. Classes can be found all over Ireland, but I recommend following Beaus & Belles Baby Massage on Facebook no matter where you live for posts that will have you smiling and give you a real feel of what baby massage classes are all about!
There are various different swimming classes which you can sign up to: Waterbabies & Aquababies to name two. Classes are great if you are nervous yourself in the water or nervous about bringing such a young baby in, however I found them to be very expensive for the amount of lessons you get. Instead I chose to just take Dylan swimming myself. In fairness at this age they aren’t doing much in the pool anyways, you just bob them up and down for 15/20 minutes so I don’t feel he’s missed out by not having structured lessons. He loves the water and can’t wait to get in for a splish-splash. We pay €6 a time (it’s a parent and toddler hour in a heated pool) which I feel is totally worth it to have him so happy in the water and without fear of swimming.
Trip To The Zoo
One of our favourite places to go, Dublin Zoo is a great way to spend a day and one that doesn’t really need an explanation. It’s €17 for an adult (babies under 3 go free) and with special rates for family passes. Not something you’d do every week but definitely a great day out to look forward to as a treat!
Similar to the zoo, petting farms are a great day out on a smaller scale. There are too many to name here but they are great for allowing the babies to see the animals up close, and even to pet/touch them. Dylan is obsessed with his own doggies at the moment so you can imagine how great a trip here would go down! Prices vary depending on location but it’s generally around €10 per adult with babies under 3 going free.
Parent and baby showings are a great way to spend a bit of time with your little one while still making time for yourself by catching up on the latest releases! I’ve blogged about our trip to the baby cinema previously (click here to read) and at around €6 it’s a relatively inexpensive way to spend a morning.
Baby & Toddler Group
If you google Baby & Toddler groups with your location you are bound to find something in your area. There are a few different one’s where we live so we’ve tried them all and decided which one suits us best. These are suitable for babies and toddlers so generally the older kids have a big space to run around while a corner is sectioned off for the babies to play on the floor with a variety of toys. It’s a cheap way to spend a morning at around €3-€4 for the session which normally includes coffee and biscuits for the mammies!
Visit a Museum
The National Art Gallery holds a new parents’ guided tour once a month. Focusing on art depicting mothers, these tours are for babies and their grown-ups, and take place on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. The National Art Gallery also run NGI Baby Workshops. These free 35 minute workshops are for babies not yet walking, and generally take place on the 3rd Monday of each month. They’re a fun and relaxing way for your babies to socialise and to explore new colours, textures and sounds. An example of these classes are a Touch & Feel Workshop, Musical Babies Workshop, and Shapes & Colours Workshop.
The Natural History Museum also hosts a ‘Babies on Board morning’ and once again parents or child minders are welcome to bring their little one along while they take the guided tour. These tours are buggy/sling friendly and are a relaxing way to spend an afternoon with your baby.
I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early to start reading to your baby so Dylan and I have a story every night before bed. Although he doesn’t care if he gets the same story every night of the week, I get bored quickly so the library has been great for getting a few new books every couple of week. I hope he’ll taking a walk to the library to pick out his own stories as he gets older but for now it’s a great excuse to get out of the house for an hour and it’s a way to pass the time for free! And for anyone concerned about bringing a baby to a place where it’s meant to be a “quiet space”, we’ve only ever had a great experience at the library; always been welcomed with big smiles and the librarians telling us how great it is we’re getting him into books so early on. Our local library also has a monthly baby book club for babies and toddlers which we’re going to go along to for the first time next month so it’s worth checking for events like this too.
Meeting Other Mums For Coffee
We try to meet with our friends for coffee once a week. I think it’s important to make sure to have some decent adult conversation every now and then and even better that it’s with some of our mammy friends who are going through the same things as we are (read my post on this here). At this stage we’ve tried most of the local coffee shops and cafes but there’s a few regulars we keep going back to. The one’s I find best are those with decent changing facilities, space for a group of buggies, and ones that make you feel comfortable bringing in a small group of babies. The one place we always come back to is IKEA. The facilities for babies and toddlers there are fantastic, we are never made to feel like we’re overstaying our welcome and to top it off they even give free tea and coffee when you have a Family Membership card! It really can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you make it. Of course if you want to save money further you can also take turns in hosting a coffee morning at each others houses.
Walk To The Park
A fairly obvious one but it wasn’t until I had Dylan that I realised how many lovely places there were to go for a walk near us! Current favourites are Malahide Castle, Ardgillan Castle, St. Anne’s Park, Phoenix Park & Father Collins Park. I either take Dylan in the pram or put him in the sling and he’s happy out taking in the views. We’ve even had a little shot in the baby swings at the swing parks there.
I know a lot of people might think this is a fairly stressful thing to do with a baby but our weekly food shop has become a firm favourite of Dylan’s! I put him in the sling so that I still have both hands free and chat to him as I go around, telling him what everything is that I’m picking up and what we’ll use it for. I’m sure people around me think I’m nuts but if Dylan enjoys it then I’m happy!
A lot of these are Dublin based as they are from my own personal experience but hopefully they give some inspiration on things to do with your little one! This post is not sponsored.