When I had my first child I quickly felt overwhelmed being home alone with a newborn for hours on end so I started scouting out places to go with my baby. We would try just about anything and everything - we even did baby sign language (which, sadly, doesn't appear to be offered in the city right now). All of the ones we did were lots of fun and it was great to connect with other parents and not feel so alone in the trenches of being sleep deprived, microscopically examining baby's every poop, and feeling like a failure because I couldn't tell the difference between a "hunger cry" or a "tired cry."
Here are some great programs Halifax currently has to offer our newest, and youngest, citizens. most aimed at ages 0-18 months - some I've gone to, and some I wish had been around when my little ones were babies!
This program is a perfect offering for a new parent venturing out with baby for the first time. It's jointly offered by Public Health and Sobey's and they have a nurse and a dietician at several locations throughout the HRM each week. It's a laid-back, drop-in environment and there are always moms with babies from newborn to a year (and sometimes more) hanging out and chatting. The nurse brings a scale so you can weigh your baby and ask questions about things like feeding or sleeping. Like their Facebook page for the weekly schedule.
Swimming lessons? With a newborn? Yep, I did it. Well, my husband did it because I was 3 months post-partum and not quite ready to hit the pool. It was more about giving her a new experience and allowing her a chance to get used to the water than actually teaching her to swim...oh, and to put her in that teeny pink sparkly tutu bathing suit in January! We did ours at the Canada Games Centre but most of the local pools offer a similar program and/or a time for a parent and tot drop-in swim.
Run away to the circus with your babe! As young as 6 months old you can attend this unique program offered by Atlantic Cirque. I took my daughter when she was 3 years old and she was tossing around juggling balls, swinging (with support) on a trapeze, and walking the balance beam. It's a fun, physical program - and you may get the cool social media bonus points of posting a photo of your baby on a trapeze.
This comes with a disclaimer - go for the opportunity to connect with other parents and maybe get a bit of exercise in; don't go expecting a full yoga workout. I did this with my son from when he was 3 months to 5 months old and spent most of the time having my hair pulled during downward dog, or being kicked in the face during plank, or soothing him when he got fussing during savasana. But I made a new mom friend out of it and got out of the house once a week, and laughed a lot at the baby antics. I went to Breathing Space Yoga but many local yoga studios offer an option.
Baby's First Books (Library)
I've mentioned before how much we love the library and both of my children took part in their Baby's First Books program. It has singing, reading, and parental chatting and is free! They also offer Family Time programs for ages 0-5 so if you've got multiple little ones you can take in one of these programs. The family ones are often drop-in but you typically need to register for Baby's First Books - best to check in advance! If you don't know why it's important to read to babies check out this article I did last year for some reasons why it's never too early to instil a love of literature and check out my monthly Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club where I often have local baby board books featured such as Let's Read! with activities like a story basket and a baby reading tool kit.
Playgroups are held at many local baby shops, recreation centres, and community centres. They usually meet informally once a week and are drop-in as they understand that your baby may not wake up in time to be there at the start. They typically have several toys and activities for a range of ages and these are particularly great options if you have more than one young child. I am a regular at my community recreation centre and met many of my current "mom friends" at playgroups. Put out a call on social media for some suggestions and I'm sure you'll be astounded at how many are happening near you (plus you can always make your own with a group of parents). I rounded up as many of the weekly drop-in programs I could find here.
Stroller Fitness Classes
This program is a great way to start getting active again and getting outside regularly (something that sometimes doesn't happen much post-baby). There are some wonderful stroller fitness classes in the city. I have a profile on Port City Strollers here, and I interviewed a local woman for a newspaper article about hers here.
There are a few options in the city for this including Kindermusik, Andrea's Music Studio and Music with Babies at Nurtured Products for Parenting. It's no secret babies love music (hello, lullabies are songs CREATED for babies!) so even though your bundle of joy can't exactly clap along yet, they'll enjoy hearing you sing and, as they get older, exploring instruments and sounds.
It's never too early to hit the gym, right? Most gymnastic programs start at 18 months or older, however some, like The Little Gym, offer program from as early as four months if you've got a busy baby who wants to get a head start on learning balance and coordination, and you'll probably get a little workout in too while playing with baby (who can resist a somersault on those crash mats, amiright?).
*Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of these programs; research, register and attend at your own discretion.
Know of any other unique and fun baby programs in Halifax? Share them in the comments so others can check them out.