juliet's big list of baby classes
I know what you're thinking. Baby classes?! Who is this entitled B?
Fair! But, talk to me after you've been at home with a newly-crawling baby for a few weeks. Or, actually, just talk to me after you've been at home with a baby for a few weeks.
You see, baby classes aren't really for the babies, at least not ones that are Avvie's age. It's so Mama can get the hell out of the apartment, put on pants, and stop reading The Pout Pout Fish 15 times in a row.
As I've found over the past 11 months, though, not every baby class is created equal. Some are actually pretty enjoyable and some are 45 minutes of sitting on linoleum tile in a dark church basement.
Before I get to my list, I would recommend trying out KidPass for a month. Right now you can try a month for 50% off (or just get one of your friends with an account to gift you a free month). There are a lot of quality classes on the site that you can test out; and then if you find one you really like, you can always sign up for the whole semester through the provider (KidPass limits the number of times you can go per month). I swear they're not paying me to say this (I don't even currently use it), but it was the most effective way to test out a lot of different classes to see which one Avvie (and I) liked. So, without further babble, here is every class we've tried out so far:
Kidville: I will sing the praises of this place until Avvie goes to college. Last "semester" we enrolled in Rockin' Railroad at the Union Square location, which had three instructors, live music, and EDIBLE BUBBLES. Every week there was a different theme (the boy band week was EPIC), story time, and lots of dancing. We're doing two different classes for the winter, so hopefully those are just as fun.
Mandell School: This fall, we enrolled in the seven-week My Grownup and Me program. There were only four babies in it and it was an hour long, so I really felt like everyone got a lot of individual attention. The class focused on everything from fine and gross motor skills, learning words, to even sitting in tiny toddler chairs. After each class, I would notice Avvie was better at a certain skill, like picking up toys out of a box, so that was pretty amazing to me.
Village Preschool Center: This semester, we're taking a French music class called Bonjour Bebe at this preschool, which is conveniently located only a few blocks from our apartment. Like most music classes, there are bubbles, banging on kid-sized instruments, and story time, but our teacher, Angele, is so kind and patient that I think many adults could benefit from her class, too. Also, babies learning French. It doesn't get much cuter.
City Treehouse: While this was a little too far for us to commit to for an entire semester, we tried the Rock-a-Baby class through KidPass and it was great. Three instructors, really fun music selections (like jazz, blues, and classic rock), and the kids were having a blast. Their indoor play area is also lovely, but Avvie's still a little too young for it.
The Little Gym: We did a trial at the location in Tribeca of the "Bugs" class, which was for 4-10 months (the parent/child classes go all the way to three years, though). The class focused a lot on baby movement and showing them how to crawl, stand, etc. using big, soft props. It was education for sure, and different than most other classes offered for this age group, but I think she'll get more out of it when she's walking and climbing.
Playgarden: We did a trial of the Playmusic class for one reason only: there is a baby zip line. While the music component was kind of forgettable, the zip line and copious amount of baby and toddler toys (push cars, musical instruments, ball pit) made it more unique. I'd definitely try this again, but probably opt for the play-only classes instead of the music ones.
Music for Aardvarks: We tried Breezy's class in SoHo through KidPass. First of all, Breezy is immensely talented and so gentle with all of the babies and kids. The other great part about this class is that, I believe, all of the songs they sing are originals. They sent us home with a CD and Avvie LOVES listening to it, especially the Taxi song. The one downside was that the space was a little uncomfortable because it wasn't carpeted.
Kids at Work: We tried the sign language class Baby Fingers through KidPass. I took sign language throughout elementary school, but I really only remember finger spelling. This was a great way to brush up on some handy signs (more, water, gentle, etc.) and Mary, our teacher, was excellent and super knowledgeable.
Sunshine Kids NYC: While I can't find Susie's current website (you can email her at sunshinekidsnyc at gmail dot com), her sign language classes are fantastic. She's full of energy, knowledgable, and a very talented musician.
Ramblin' Dan: We tried Dan's class at Babies 'R Us through KidPass. He is super friendly, great with babies and also a superb musician. I like how much individual attention he gave to each baby.
Citibabes: We did a trial of the Mini Citirockers class, which was taught by a fun dude with a guitar. But what I'm really interested in are the movement classes, since Citibabes has a really fun gym area with a lot of soft, climbable structures. And when she's a little older, their indoor playground is awesome.
New York Kids Club: One of these just opened almost across the street from us, but unfortunately all of the class times for Avvie's age group are during her nap times. Sigh. We sampled the Musical Tots class, which had two instructors (both with really incredible voices) and a really adorable puppet. I'd love to try their Gym Tots class over the summer.
*there were a few we took that were just not for us. That doesn't mean that other babies won't like them!
Music Together: You know, I've tried this at multiple locations with multiple instructors. Avvie just doesn't like it.
Gymboree: We tried the Music 1 class here through KidPass and I felt the instructors were very low energy. Also, the room was really tiny. We didn't try any of the gym classes, though, which look more interesting.
Greenwich House: I actually signed up for a semester of the RIE class here, but decided to cancel after two classes. Most of the class time was spent quietly observing the babies (there were only 2-3 depending on the week), which, I can kind of do for free if my friends and I organize play dates (and yes, yes, I know it's not the same). No doubt the people teaching the classes are knowledgable and I did learn something about baby behavior in those two weeks, but I wanted something more interactive.
We live downtown, so most of what we've sampled is nearby, but I'd love to know what other classes you guys love!