The Best Programs for Parents and Infant in Halifax for 2021
I am not one to sit at home. But please, don't let me give you the impression that being a new mom is easy. It is not. I could not ask for something I love more than being a mom, but it is exhausting. However, I am a sucker for punishment. I tried quite the variety of programs during my maternity leave during my first pregnancy. I anticipate my second pregnancy will be enjoyed from the beauty of my living room.. but I hope this may help the next new mom or dad who has some pep in their step.
1. The Little Gym: I have to say, this was one of my favorite places to take Layla! You do the parent and tot class as young as 4 months old. It was a nice way to get out of the house around 9am in the morning when I was up since 6am. (Yes, be prepared to want to hang out with your new mom friends at ridiculously early hours). The teachers here are WONDERFUL. They all were very kind to the kids and parents. They do not just focus on gymnastics, but different motor skills. They have a cute little routine they do every class with songs and always end with some bubbles! We continued this program right up until Layla was 2yo (then COVID-19 hit). You can find their schedule at https://www.thelittlegym.com/halifaxNS/schedules.
Cost: Approximately $60 a month. However, WELLLL worth it.
2. Nurtured Infant Massage: One of my other favorite classes was the infant massage at Nurtured. This is a five week session to teach parents how to promote baby's growth, improve digestion, and help soothe baby in preparation for sleep. However, it was also a great support group of parents to discuss breast feeding, bottle feeding, sleep patterns, and to feel some
normalcy in that you are not alone in how you are feeling as a new parents. (Bonus the teacher is a lactation consultant). This group requires no physical activity and all that you bring is a blanket. Babies 1 month to crawling is the recommended age (otherwise, those babies are not staying down to let you massage them).
Cost: $100 for 5 sessions
3. Mom and Baby Yoga: Breathing Space Yoga puts on a wonderful mom and baby yoga session. I chose to go to the Tantallon location since I'd rather drive a bit farther to avoid driving downtown Halifax. However, they do have locations in Halifax, Sydney, Truro and Windsor as well. The class was recommended for babies 6 weeks up to crawling (again, any older and baby was crawling away). The class focused on rebuilding core strength, flexibility, and on breathing. I have dabbled in yoga, but I would consider myself a beginner. This class was not too difficult and was easy to follow along. The space was breast and bottle feeding friendly, so there was no shame in stopping to feed your baby. All you need is a yoga mat and a blanket for your baby to lay on.
Cost: $90 plus tax for 8 classes over a 3 month period, or obtain a class pass (my favorite option). Drop-in rates were also available, but ensure to pre-register!
4. Parent and Tot Swim (Canada Games Centre): I am sure there are a few parent and tot swims available in HRM. However, my favorite is at the Canada Games Centre (this is the open swim, not the lessons). There is a kiddy pool that is warm and great for teaching your little how to get used to the water. They have a larger pool area and will turn on the sprinkler pad during this time (watch the toddlers go wild!). I was a member at the time and would not have to pay (I do recommend if you are looking to use the fitness facilities and pool that you get a membership - $100 a month). However, it was only a few dollars when I went with friends (I believe 3 dollars a parent). They have great floaties to have your kiddos sit in and make it easy for the parents. Just a tip: Make sure you don't use a puddle jumper.. you must use a PSA approved lifejacket. Unfortunately, I believe COVID-19 has this time slot on pause, but you can book online for their open swim timeslots (pricing on their website).
Cost: Members - free. Non-members - low cost
5. Your Local Library: The library facilities in HRM are highly underrated, especially if you are a new parent. There are many beautiful new buildings that allow parents the opportunity to engage their children, while ensuring they have access to caffeine! If you go to https://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/ then "What's On" then "Kids" it will list all the events that are available for your little (some you must book your timeslot due to the pandemic, some are now available virtually). Ensure that you pick your desired library, as there are many great options in HRM. They have programs such as story time, puppet shows, and music. Our daughter frequented with our day home and loved the programs! I wish I would have taken advantage more often and will be checking out these programs more with my second.
6. Fitness Programs and Track (Canada Games Centre): Again, I have to give mention to the Canada Games Centre if you are an active mom. I looked at many different facilities, but the access at the Canada Games in unreal. The track is stroller friendly and there are lots of areas to pull off to do some exercises while your little is still in the stroller. I would do laps and some exercises because Layla liked to keep moving. (They do have child minding which I have heard great things about, but it is on pause due to COVID-19). If you have a membership, the classes are very reasonably priced. I would often watch the Baby Boot Camp for exercise ideas and moms appeared to be having a blast (I've heard there is another Baby Boot Camp in the BLT area that is also wonderful that can be found on Facebook). There is a fitness room and studios you can use when classes aren't being held. However again, this may have changed due to COVID-19, but their website outlines the changes to usual operations. The nice part is that part of your protocol you can book your time slots online.
Cost: See website for details
7. Kindermusik (Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts): My husband and I did "The Village" class with our little when she was an infant. This class is designed for infants to 1-1 1/2 years old. Let me tell you, it was a quirky way to start your Saturday morning. I don't think I have had so many laughs during a class (this maybe wasn't the intent but I think the other parents appreciated it). The teachers are lovely and knowledgeable about music and development of your little. Layla enjoyed the music and bright colored items they used. They even provide you with a CD and kit with some items for your kiddo to use at home. The class does push the parent out of their comfort zone. Be prepared to march around with your babe to the music. Overall, a great experience for our daughter!
Cost: $310 for a term (approx 4 months). Appears that classes are moved virtually if unable to complete in person due to COVID-19.
8. Your Local Playgroup: Most churches or community centers in your local area will hold morning playgroups. This is a great way to meet some families with children your kids age in the same community. Did I mention there are usually snacks and coffee! The playgroup I frequented is currently on hold due to COVID, but I have attached the Facebook group for when it restarts again. I loved going to this group. It started at 930am, so was something to look forward to when baby was up early in the morning. They always had muffins and coffee so I could focus on baby. The space was very non-judgmental and is breast feeding friendly.
9. Plan a Playdate: This obviously isn't a formal program, but make it! My friends and I started a "breakfast and coffee" playgroup once a week. We'd rotate houses. Mind you, our breakfast was usually muffins and coffee for a few hours before afternoon nap. But the simplicity of it was something we all looked forward to every week. Befriend someone in a class, look for Facebook groups in your area to connect with other moms who are looking to plan playdates without going too far from home (please keep COVID-19 restrictions in mind - yes, that was the nurse in me).
After writing this post, I realize I am not going to be able to go to this many programs with my second child (sorry to all the second children whos parents are as tired as me and having a baby during a pandemic). However, a few select activities with smaller groups this year sounds just wonderful to me. Happy 2021. May this year bring your family lots of love with your new bundle of joy.