This product review is a bit different – it’s actually a review of the Baby Sensory classes! So I guess it’s more of a service review than a product review 😉
You can read all about the program here – https://www.babysensory.com/baby-development-classes
Basically it’s a science-backed program designed to stimulate and educate babies from birth to 13 months through exploration and play. Once your baby is too old for Baby Sensory, they simply move on to Toddler Sense, the toddler version!
I found Baby Sensory through an ad or suggestion or some such thing on Facebook I believe, back when our little bub was about 3 months old. I was SO EXCITED that there was something like this in existence! As both my husband and I are scientists, knowing this was backed by research made it oh so appealing to us. It isn’t just a play group, it has purpose.
I decided to wait until Eddie was 6 months old before beginning, simply because I thought waiting that extra time would mean he’d get the most out of the classes. It also lined up well with their schedule, as they run during the school terms and have breaks during the school holidays.
It took Eddie a few classes to get used to it, as our class leader said it would. In the beginning it was simply a bit overwhelming for my little bub – all those people, activities, noises, other babies, it was just all a bit much for a bub who had spend the vast majority of his time at home with just me.
Each class runs for an hour, which is such a long time for little bubs. But the activities are short and purposeful, and there is a break half way through so you can feed, change, calm, or simply play with your bub in the play area.
The room is divided into two sections. One section is the class area, set up like a big square with parents and bubs sitting around the edges, and things happening in the middle. The other section is a large play area set up with age-appropriate toys, books, and activity ideas.
After singing and signing the Say Hello song (you pick it up pretty quick, don’t worry!), there is about 20 minutes of activities, and you’ll do perhaps 4 or 5 within that time. Then there is a 15-20 minute break, then the remaining time is further activities, ending with the Say Goodbye song and signs.
The activities are different each class (though some are obviously iterations of the same thing). They are all very sensory-rich, with things like fabrics of different textures, smells, and lights. Puppet shows, songs, nursery rhymes, movement activities – there are so many and so varied that the bubs have no opportunity to get bored!
I remember from our very first class, Eddie watched his first ever puppet show. A little screen was placed at the front of the room, and we gathered around to watch. I managed to get right up the front and had bub sitting on the floor in front of me. Alex, our leader, had two hand puppets, each side being a different Telly Tubby. She sang along to what I assume was a variation of the Telly Tubby theme song, making the puppets jump out the sides and top of the screen and shuffle around. Bub was absolutely entranced! His eyes did not leave the screen or puppets, or Alex, for the entire show (granted it was only a few minutes, but I still thought that was good concentration!). After returning to our previous positions, we were each given a flashing ball on a string. The idea was to have bub lying on the floor in front of us, and slowly wave the ball in different directions to get them to follow it with their eyes. This seemed to work with varying degrees for each bub – depending on their age and temperament, they either played along well, got distracted by everyone else, tried to grab the ball, or simply waddled off with it.
Having a room full of parents and their bubs was both a blessing and a curse. It was fantastic to socialise with other new (and returning) parents, compare our bub’s development, share stories, and exchange advice. But it was also frustrating at times when side-conversations would break off during the activities, becoming loud and off-topic, and they weren’t being respectful to Alex or the other parents who were trying to follow along and do the right thing.
As the bubs were anywhere from a few weeks to a year old, there were a lot of different experiences in that regard. Some were so young that they were confined to the arms of their parents, and others were old enough to be crawling off or running around during the activities (much to everyone’s amusement).
Watching the bub’s development over the course of the terms was a delight. Seeing how far each child has come, watching how their interactions with the activities and toys and other children developed, was simply incredible. It reminded you how far your own bub had come, which is so easy to overlook when you’re with them every day. Realising that your bub is now doing what that bub over there was doing a few weeks ago, and then in a few weeks seeing that other bub doing it too, was so interesting, reassuring, and entertaining.
I haven’t been a part of any other playgroup to know how this differs, but the pure fact that it is organised activities lead by a trained professional surely counts for a lot. The children are lead along a journey, instead of popped down with a bunch of toys. Each activity is clearly thought out, and the leader explains how it is beneficial to their development and how to interact with each stage of babyhood, so you are never left wondering what to do or why.
And you get so many ideas for activities and ways to play with your baby at home. As a first time mum, this is something I’ve really struggled with, but thanks to Baby Sensory I came home each week with new ideas to try out.
Overall, I say if you have the time, money, and ability, definitely go along for a term or two (or three… or four…). We both had a great time going each week, and the experiences Eddie got through these classes are something I could not have possibly hoped to recreate on my own or even through a general play group. I am genuinely sad that we can’t continue next year, as I’m returning to work full time, so you’ll have to go in my stead!