Last month’s article on Baby Friendly Café’s got me thinking about what other lists parents of young children in Perthshire might benefit from. I know I spent hours Googling baby classes when I was pregnant only to discover the best ones by word of mouth months later.
I look for activities which will be able to engage Freya as well as things which are good fun and great value for money. It’s especially great to find classes where dads and even grandparents feel welcome too- my husband loves coming along when he can.
I’ve hopefully taken some of the hard work out of it for you- here’s the best baby & toddler classes we’ve come across so far, many of which were also suggested by our readers, for you to share with anyone who has little ones or even one on the way!
A relative new comer these classes began in February this year, and I’ve been hearing about them non-stop! Blending gardening and nature inspired activities around a different theme each week means that there’s always something different to look forward to.
Kids learn through songs, stories, sensory play and planting (even taking home what they make and plant!).
The classes are relaxed and informal, a great chance to make friends and encourage little ones to play outside while learning to respect nature and wildlife. I’ve spoken to several other parents who go and they all say it’s one of the best classes they’ve ever been to.
The feedback is that children have great fun, it’s totally unique and great value for money. Parents, babies and younger siblings are also very welcome at the classes.
Mon in Perth | Thurs in Stanley | Sat in Glendoick. MORE ON DIRECTORY >>>
Live Active are currently offering a few different classes you can bring babies along to and they are all accessible to members and non-members.
There is also a fabulous choice of classes for toddlers and pre-school children under their Active Steps brand; Freya is just a wee bit too small for these just now but I've heard from other mums how great they are so they're on our list! Wee springers, kickabout classes, dance class and allstars all look FAB! Download the current timetable here>>>
This one hour class is held in the main hall at Rodney and designed to ease mums back in to exercise. I went for a taster session and took part along with eight other lovely mums and babies of all ages.
You bring the baby with you in their pram- your cardio workout is jogging around the hall with it. Freya can be a bit funny about being in her pram for long periods of time but she actually managed fine and was just happy watching (and laughing at) me on this occasion!
Everyone works their way around the room stopping to do various strengthening exercises tailored to helping post-natal bodies. There’s no need to have previously done circuit training or be super fit- the instructor is always on hand to correct technique and encourages you to go at your own pace.
Wednesday at Live Active Rodney. MORE ON DIRECTORY >>>
Our very own Nicki is an addict at Body Balance, so she couldn't wait to send me along to this new one where mums can bring their babies along. With elements of Yoga and Tai Chi this class is a great low impact way to start stregnthening up your muscles again. The class is 45 minutes long and the babies can either stay in their car seat or roll around on the floor (they seemed to enjoy all the music and lights!).
Mondays in the Studio at Bell's Sports Centre. MORE ON DIRECTORY>>>
There’s a lot I could say about Fitdankbaby (which translates as ‘Fit thanks to baby’), so much in fact that after one class I decided to do a Spotlight article on it coming up in January!
This class is utterly unique, and we’re lucky enough to have one of the best Pilates instructors in the UK bringing it to Scotland for the first time right here in Perth. If you’re anything like me you may have underestimated quite what Pilates is - I was all ready for a bit of breathing and stretching.
Turns out it’s a proper workout- 75 minutes of controlled movements many of which you do with your baby attached to you using a special ‘Fitdankbaby’ patented belt so they act as a weight.
It made me feel great afterwards (although I did find myself wishing I'd taken a slightly less puffed-out pic at the beginning of class!) so we’ve signed up to a block. Taster sessions are available.
Mon and Fri at Balans Pilates Studio | Thurs in Perth. MORE ON DIRECTORY>>
She's not quite old enough yet but as soon as she can stand I'll have Freya signed up for this great class.
Creative Play is run by the amazing Horsecross at North Inch Community Campus and is their new programme designed for pre-school kids.
Led by Horsecross tutors who specialise in this age group, these fun filled workshops include drama, singing and dancing activities all tailored to engage and inspire children between up to 4 years old.
The sessions build a colourful imagination as well as focusing on the four ‘C’s: confidence, concentration, coordination and communication. There is loads of research that suggests this helps children to reach their full potential and when you see these little ones, I'm sure you'd agree.
Fridays at North Inch Campus | MORE ON DIRECTORY >>>
The Perthshire franchise of Hartbeeps was taken over by Katie Johnston earlier this year. No sooner had I heard about this than places started to sell out so I thought I'd better jump on the bandwagon!
We signed up to a 5 week block of Hartbeeps not entirely sure what it was. Turns out it’s a mad mix of sensory and musical play. There are three different levels of class depending on your baby’s ability and we attended ‘baby beeps’ for those sitting-toddling, when Freya was 7 months old.
If ever there was a moment I realised my life is unrecognisable from this time last year, it was that first Wednesday morning as I donned a bright yellow ‘mother duck’ hat without hesitation and sang along with Freya. At the end of the class babies get tucked up with the lights off for a wee bit of relaxation and Freya just loves staring at the Hartbeeps light up star (we bought one to use at home too!).
Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri in Perth | MORE ON DIRECTORY>>
We’ve been attending these baby swimming classes since Freya was 8 weeks old and we're now on our third block. She loves it!
I could sing the praises of this amazing class all day long - which is why it was my very first #RhonaRecommends spotlight article. Click over and read all about it here>>>
Classes held at Erigmore Estate, Birnam.
Run by Emma, a mum of two and qualified primary school teacher, who set out to provide high quality messy and sensory play experiences for babies & toddlers.
During sessions little ones have the opportunity to explore, create and learn by taking part in activities based around a familiar theme. At Mucky Pups children use all five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing) during play to maximise their learning and development potential. There’s lots of benefits to ‘messy play’ classes and no mess to clear up like at home!
Tuesdays in Perth | Fridays in Stanley.
I’m not going to lie- I am virtually counting the days until Freya is old enough to attend this one! This is a brilliant group which enables young children to get involved in gymnastics at an early age.
During this 45 minute class they are encouraged to explore the apparatus in the gym under careful supervision of both the coaches and a parent at all times. It’s great exercise for kids and has such a good social aspect both for them and the parents. It sounds brilliant - all I remember when I was little was grown-ups constantly telling you off for wanting to climb on the gym equipment!
Tuesdays & Thursday’s in Auchterarder
Sometimes the best things in life really are free! One of the highlights of our week for a long time has been spending half an hour on a Thursday afternoon sitting in a circle singing nursery rhymes and doing the actions at the library in Auchterarder.
These classes are also popular with grandparents who are always pleased to sing-along. When it comes to nursery rhymes, some things never change! They all know the words, even if it’s been years since they last heard them.
This is a drop in session (although you have to book a place at some libraries) and is a great mix of babies & toddlers of all ages. When we started Freya was one of the youngest and it’s so lovely to see her growing up, more able and aware every week.
A brilliantly simple concept which never gets old, and a great way of introducing them to the library.
Classes take place throughout the various Perth & Kinross Library venues.
Download times and venues here.
I know what you’re thinking- sign language for babies? Really? Yes- and it’s brilliant!
There’s lots of research which shows babies can learn to ‘sign’ or make gestures to indicate their needs from an early age, and parents can help teach them what gestures represent simple concepts.
This isn’t a classroom environment though; the learning is done through fun & exciting activities and games that inspire your baby’s interest and illustrate the signs to them. Each week is different and it’s great fun to practice at home, where you can really see their progress. Also, things at home become much less frustrating when baby can tell you what they want!
Class numbers are strictly limited, each session lasts around 45 minutes, and there are discounts for twins or triplets. Booking for the new term in January also opens any day now so get in quick!
Tues, Fri, Sat in Perth | Mon in Milnathort
We started a block of baby massage with Jo when Freya was just 7 weeks old. I heard about the classes when I was pregnant and always thought it sounded like a really lovely way to bond with the baby in the early days - and I was right.
The class I attended had three other mums in the group, all of which I have kept in touch with. We got a wee instruction book and were provided with massage oil to take home. We still use many of the techniques I learned in these classes on a daily basis when applying Freya’s moisturiser, and it always makes her so relaxed.
The classes are very laid back- Jo even provides refreshments and nibbles at ‘half time’- and you always go at the pace of the baby so if they’re hungry, tired or just having an off day that’s absolutely fine- you can always practice on one of the dummies!
Jo Also offers 'Baby Yoga' classes for those 3-18 months old. These classes combine elements of stretching, massage and relaxation using different games and rhymes; we haven't tried this yet but it's definately on the to do list!
Classes held in Perth on Thursdays.
We go to the ‘Baby Discovery’ classes which are roughly split into two parts; the first half being about singing songs and the babies getting to play with whatever they can find in the great big bag of mystery which is full of things designed to stimulate their senses (Freya being a particular fan of anything scrunchy or shiny).
The second half of the class is arts & crafts based, where all the paints are non-toxic and equipment cleaned before each use. Babies also get their own special wee boiler suits to wear so they don’t get their clothes messy. There’s a different theme each week, the Hallowe’en one was great and we still have Freya’s take home masterpiece ‘spooky footprints’ decoration hanging on her pin board.
One of the fellow mums at class thinks it’s particularly good to bring her twins as there’s plenty of space and everyone is keen to lend each other a hand.
Classes in Perth/Stanley/Auchterarder.
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The next #RhonaRecommends will be about the great things families can see and do throughout Perthshire on a winter's day.
What are your go-to things to get up to during the winter? If you have any ideas for this, please comment here and tell us what you plan on getting up to! Things to consider include:
And believe me, as a new mum I'm really looking forward to hearing your ideas.