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Too Many Classes for Baby
by Rebecca Garland

In an interesting twist, there is now a small debate not over what sort of programs babies should be attending, but if they should be attending them at all. There are many classes offered by various gyms, churches, community centers and professionals designed just for babies and toddlers. Just a few years ago parents were enrolling their child in everything possible. Now some parents are beginning to take a step back from all this early education in an effort to make baby’s life less complicated and protect her daily routines. Is educating your baby through baby classes the right thing to do?

Baby Classes
While your baby might not be signed up for algebra, there are many classes offered to baby (with mom or dad accompanying her) that are designed to give her a head start in a particular area as well as have good, old fashioned fun. Popular programs include soccer, swimming, music, arts and crafts, dancing, gymnastics and many more depending on your area and ability to dig into local offerings.

Necessary Fun?
Are these classes necessary for any baby?

No. Are they fun for most babies? Certainly. If you and your baby are ready to try something new a few afternoons a week, attending a music class designed to help baby’s rhythm and song appreciation grow can be a great way to spend time together in a fun way. Granted, shaking a rattle in time to a children’s tune won’t make her a piano prodigy necessarily, but the more exposure your child has to things such as music and art, the more enriched her life will be and her overall skill set with grow.

Finding Balance
The difficulty with many of the classes is they are offered on a limited basis and often the timing of the class interferes with a regular part of your child’s day. It’s hard to find a handful of programs that just happen to gather between a morning nap and lunch or between an afternoon nap and dinner. Some classes meet during the day and others in the evening. Sacrificing your child’s schedule to these classes is where some parents draw the line. The classes can be expensive as well.

Taking advantage of a quality program with your child is a great way to bond, learn early skills that can build her development and give mom and baby a break from the monotony of the house. But instead of taking a class every day at a different time, enroll in a single program that meets two or three times a week. Then, if your baby gets especially tired on activity days, she can rest on the days in between and get caught up again.

Be very careful about signing your baby up for evening classes, especially if she needs an early bedtime as most babies do. Even a class at five or six o’clock can make your child up to an hour or more late getting to bed. Once in a while a late bedtime isn’t too much trouble, but children react strongly when they don’t get enough sleep and routinely going to bed too late is prone to cause problems with tantrums, poor sleep, shorter naps and other issues. Consider a weekend class rather than an evening one if you can’t attend during the week.

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