The first few years of your child’s life are very important for their physical, mental and social development. These initial years shape so much of their personality and who they will become, that it is important to give them a rich childhood full of activity, fun, interaction and cognitive challenges. Enrolling your child into a baby class could be just the thing they need to kickstart their communication and cognitive skills into action. Not to mention that in infant classes they will be able to interact with other children, developing their social skills through educational activities and making them happier for it.
That is why we’ve made a brief list of some free baby classes in the UK – your baby or toddler will love all of these, and they’re all offering the first class for free. You could trial each class and see which one works for you and which one your child seems to enjoy the most before deciding to sign up.
Read on to find out what these classes offer and how they can benefit you and your child.
Monkey Music offers music classes in over 50 locations in England, Wales and Scotland. Due to COVID, they had previously been offering interactive classes online that now have resumed as in-person classes. You can get a free trial for one of their classes for babies ranging from 3 months old to 4 years. Once they have reached the end of their journey, they will have graduated from Monkey Music class with over 500 songs and fun musical activities memorised, which can develop their communication skills by providing them with a rich vocabulary. There are many different classes to choose from, including Rock ’n’ Roll and Heigh-ho.
Monkey Music has been running for almost 30 years, and their musical teachers can help with:
- psychological benefits for both parents and children
- activities for infant social development and peer support
- teaching impressive music to enhance focus, communication and mental wellbeing
The teachers have also noticed that parents can often benefit from these classes too, as they can find a community of parents who can offer support and reassurance to each other. An additional benefit for the children is the chance to be in the Monkey Music band. This is an opportunity that most of the parents are hoping to see their children take advantage of, as it can build their child’s confidence and give them a sense of achievement.
They also offer instruments in their shop to better their learning experience. The average price of an instrument ranges between £7 — £12 and the choices are: tambourines, rain-makers, rhythm kits, cage bells, whistles, wooden tone blocks, maracas, fish wood blocks and more. They also offer interactive music books to purchase, band shirts and cuddly toys.
Caterpillar Music was founded by Helen Simmons, who decided to start this franchise in London in 2006 after the birth of her son. They currently offer a free trial of any class and a free franchise information pack. You can also book a Discovery Day to get a feel for the environment and get to know the teachers.
The classes are aimed at newborns to four-year-olds. This is broken down into two age groups: caterpillars (between the age of 0-18 months) and butterflies (18 months – 4 years). They also offer baby only classes, mixed age classes or intergenerational classes (these are bespoke SEN sessions that are hosted at care homes).
They teach using interactive methods and tools such as singing, instruments and puppets to help with their visual and auditory learning. There are 150 locations in both England and Scotland where they offer classes, parties, special events, nursery sessions and intergenerational classes.
The benefits of attending these music classes:
- it can aid balance
- it can help to build vocabulary
- it can improve coordination (heads, shoulders, knees and toes)
- it can help with counting
- it can encourage them to build social relationships (they learn to share and tidy up)
- it can help the parents to make friends in the classes
- it can benefit motor development (teaches them skills that can help them when learning to speak and write)
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Babies are accustomed to swimming after spending nine months in the womb. Water births are a common practice because this is a more natural introduction to the world for babies. This means that babies can be naturally acclimatised to water, so introducing your baby to infant swimming classes will make them more adaptable to water when they’re older and these activities can help with social, mental and emotional development.
Babies can be taken swimming from birth onwards, before completion of their injections. Baby swimming classes can help them with exercise and motility. These classes can be performed with the parents, which can provide a lot of benefits:
- plenty of eye contact
- plenty of skin contact — a good bonding experience
- helping you and your baby to feel relaxed and confident in your swimming abilities and to build confidence of simply being in the water
- fun and social interaction
- an opportunity for all parents, even if they can’t swim, to enjoy quality time in the water with their baby
Beyond these joint benefits your baby will also learn:
- complete independence. Being able to move in the water is a freedom babies don’t have during the year before they begin to learn how to crawl and walk
- free movement, co-ordination, core muscle strength, development of physical actions and crucial higher brain functions. As they are learning skills of movement earlier on in their lives, they get the opportunity to develop higher brain functions. This leads to them learning certain functions before their first year (the year where learning to crawl and walk can begin) such as core muscle development and co-ordination
- gentle swimming exercises. These exercises can provide a complete body work-out that helps to strengthen your baby’s heart, lungs and respiratory system, which in turn aids in brain development
- improved eating and sleeping patterns. Physical activities can help to increase your baby’s appetite to have regular mealtimes and can help them to sleep through the night
- audial cues and responses. Before your baby can even speak, they have the ability to learn different ways of communication. They can respond to you through actions, expression and emotions. This skill can take a few months to learn and your child’s mental, social and emotional development can improve through infant swimming activities. Activities that can teach infants how to communicate can help not only with social skills but also emotional development. Children that find effective ways to communicate (and feel heard) typically tend to have better emotional regulation. It can help the both of you to learn how to communicate with each other while they are still learning the basics
- routine. Beginning to practise exercise at a young age can lay down the foundations for the same pattern of behaviour and habit in the future
- a love of water
Being a part of these gentle, baby swimming classes yourself can help to make your baby feel more comfortable and able to enjoy the experience as opposed to doing the classes alone. Having that familiar person that they feel safe with can make a huge difference to their confidence when learning.
Puddle Ducks only employ skilled swimming teachers who are trained to understand the needs of both you and your baby. They are also qualified in lifesaving and resuscitation skills, so you and your baby will be in safe hands (even though swimming classes are extremely safe and gentle for your baby anyway).
Classes can vary from relaxed and fun, to more formal and regimented — so pick a class that works best for what you are looking for. Specialist baby swimming classes are much more regulated and will involve some under water swimming, but these are still fun classes and you can choose to opt in or out of any part of the class.
Other baby swimming classes can be more organic, full of fun activities and designed to practise gentle submersions. Babies will also learn essential life skills and water safety. These classes are available across the whole of the UK in 35 locations for babies aged 0 – 10 years. All Puddle Duck venues are offering a first free trial except those based in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.
diddi’s dance classes can help to build your child’s confidence, co-ordination and creativity through fun and interactive learning. Each class targets the seven learning areas that correspond to the development requirements set out in OFSTED’S School Readiness report. The diddi’s dance programme has also become a part of nurseries, schools and children centres due to the benefits it can provide.
They offer 45-minute classes that engage children’s creativity by using action songs, dancing games, fun exercises, as well as tools like hoops and dance ribbons. Each half term they offer different dance styles in their classes, such as Salsa, Country, Bollywood, Reggae, Hip Hop and Jive. This theme will continue for that half term before moving onto another.
All teachers are fully enhanced DBS checked and are trained in diddi dances methods. While these classes are gender neutral and aimed at all children aged between 2 and 5, they have occasionally made exceptions for students as young as 16 months old who had no issues keeping up with the rest of the class. They are also working with the Para Dance UK to devise a special needs program that is inclusive of children who require wheelchairs. Even though all classes are inclusive, parents who would prefer to enrol their child into an exclusively SEN programme do have that option available to them.
They also offer parties that are interactive and which incorporate dance. For your convenience, you can choose parties of different durations, ranging from (30 minutes to an hour) for different age groups.
They offer a free trial day and a free diddi dance invite.
Gymboree offers classes in over 700 centres in 40 countries. Their sessions, for 0-5 year olds, include songs, puppets, bubbles and baby-sized instruments in a large, fun, safe, soft-play gym.
They offer 45-minute interactive classes that have been specially designed by experts in child development to improve their cognitive, problem solving, social and physical skills, while also boosting their creativity and confidence.
Each class has a theme which can involve development teaching methods like singing, movement and exploration. There is also an opportunity for parents to be involved in order to support and understand their child during a crucial developmental stage.
They will also be able to engage with the English language at a young age, promoting healthy brain development. Between the ages of 3 and 5, a child’s brain grows between 80 – 90% of its adult size, so getting the right mental stimulation and engagement during these years is vital for shaping their future in a positive way.
In Gymboree classes, children will learn:
- motor skills
- social skills
- self-esteem building
- brain development
- how to have fun
They are offering a free first session for which you will have to fill out their application form online. However, if you decide to become a member, freebie classes, discounts and parent handouts will also be made available.
All of the classes mentioned in this article offer initial free trials for you to see which class would best suit your child’s needs. You could book up your week with all of these fun activities for no cost. Classes can be such a good way to engage your child’s creativity and focus in a consistent way that will help them to learn so many skills that can set them up for future success. Classes can also be a great way to bond with your child and understand how to communicate with each other.
We hope you’ll love these five free baby classes in the UK. At The Ribbon Box, we’re here to support you through the highs and lows of pregnancy and parenthood. Join the community to stay up to date, and get practical support and handy tips just like these delivered straight to your inbox.