Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mom & Baby Activities: Drop-In Infant Playgroup

Ontario has the most amazing free resources for new parents. By far, one of my favourite mom and baby activities has been infant playgroups offered by Ontario Early Years Centres. Don't let the name fool you, your little one is probably too little to really care much about playing with other babies. This activity is for you. If you're thinking about leaving the house for the first time and want to find a safe place to try for the first time, this is the best option. whether your baby is sleeping in the car seat, playing with one of the many provided toys, nursing or having a bottle, this is the place to be. You meet other moms that usually live in your neighbourhood, all with infants under a year old.

Many of the centres also offer toy lending libraries so you can bring home interesting toys for your baby to play with without having to buy them.

My favourite so far is the drop-in hosted by Mothercraft in my neighbourhood, where I had the pleasure of meeting many moms with babies born within a week of my little one (last time there were 4!) as well as moms with slightly older babies, which are great for asking questions about what to expect next. I also met a mom that lives a few blocks away from me, who is on maternity leave most of the same time as I am. The only down side is that its very popular and maxes out at 16 people, so you aren't always guaranteed the ability to get a spot.

To find a drop-in infant playgroup in your area of Ontario, go to Ontario Early Years Centre Locations, select your location and then find the links for calendars.

You might also do a search for groups on Facebook, as some community centres also host infant playgroups such as McKellar Park, which has drop-in infant playgroup the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month.

Mom & Baby Activities: Yoga

I did a lot of prenatal yoga and loved the way that it prepared me both physically and mentally for birth. There was no doubt in mind my that I wanted to continue doing yoga once baby was born.

Many yoga studios offer mom and baby classes, and some local stores even offer free mom and yoga. There are classes where you can wear baby in a structured carrier or wrap, others where you lay baby on your mat while you exercise and others that combine exercise for mom with activity for baby. There are also venues that offer child minding services, if you prefer to go it alone. Some will even take your infant as of day one and have no minimum age.

I had planned to do mom and baby yoga at my local studio, however when I got the all clear to exercise at 6 weeks postpartum, I realized the last thing I wanted to do was pay to only hopefully get to do any yoga depending on how baby was doing at the time. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing! It's difficult to guarantee you'll get to relax for an entire hour to hour and a half class, so I opted to try a free option: Mom & Baby Yoga at Bayshore Shopping Centre.

The yoga at Bayshore Shopping Centre is an hour long class, and baby is included in the poses. There's a lot of ups and downs and moving baby around which I found to be too much for my infant, so I left him on the mat for most of the class. When he was tired, I popped him in my Lillebaby carrier and did my best to follow along. Because it was free, it wasn't a big deal that I needed to hold him for the latter half. Also, being at a mall, I was then able to go for lunch and shopping.

The best part? Bayshore Shopping Centre has a great new nursing room with multiple chairs tucked away by the food court, so when it was time to nurse we headed over there, nursed, changed diapers and let baby have some more play time on our yoga mats before heading out.

Some other providers of Mom & Baby Yoga in Ottawa:
Many providers offer a free introductory class, so don't hesitate to give it a try to see if its right for you.


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