It can be scary to leave the house with your new baby-- you're worried about forgetting something, how you'll cope if your baby has a diaper explosion or really starts to lose it and gets upset. You might be worried about feeding your baby in public, or about something happening to them while you're travelling. These are all totally normal concerns, but don't let these worries keep you from getting out with your baby! Not only is it good for your baby to explore their world, but it will do YOU a world of good to get out of the house and chat with other mums who are going through the same things as you.
Meetup: This is a FREE website that allows you to connect with groups of people in your neighbourhood! You can search for groups by using regional key-words or by using topic based keywords. The groups then function like a message board where people can post events, and you can RSVP your attendance or not. Sometimes there will even be several similar groups in one location. For example, I belong to the Toronto New Parents group, as well as the St. Clair Mama's and Papa's group which is a more neighbourhood specific group.
The kinds of Meet Ups suggested in the groups are wide ranging from coffee dates, to lunch dates, to stroller walks in the park and neighbourhood events. This a great way to meet other mamas who live near you, and you can pick and choose which events suit your time-table and budget.
Another big plus of the MeetUp groups is that you can usually make suggestions for new events on days/times that work for you if there are no standing meetups that work for you. Some groups have an open format where you can even create the event yourself without having to ask the group admin to do it for you.
OEYC Programs: The Ontario Early Years Centers are also an amazing resource for new parents! They're funded by the Ontario government and are free to participate in. Contact your local center to find out what their monthly calendar looks like. Generally speaking however they offer regular "drop-in" times where you and baby can stop by for free play and meet with other parents and caregivers. They also offer more structured activities that you need to pre-register for like songs and rhymes, and parent education workshops on various topics like weaning, language development and baby care. This is a great way to take advantage of your tax-dollars at work and meet other parents in your neighbourhood in a secure and organized environment. The staff who run these activities are all trained in working with young children, and many have their ECE qualifications. These were a lifesaver for us this summer since we don't have air conditioning and the OEYC sites by us did!
Library Programs: Your local library can be a wonderful hidden resource for getting out with your baby! Give them a call and ask if they offer any baby and caregiver programs, you might be surprised at the options. Many libraries offer a story time, or singing/rhymes circle time all of which are free to attend... and you don't even need a library card! But you might as well pick one up while you're there so you can make sure you have books on hand to read to baby at home. See my previous post on Reading Together to discover the importance of reading together with your baby and to see some of the boy-o's favourite books!
Swimming: While it's not recommended you take your little swimming until they've had a few sets of shots, swimming can be an excellent way to bond with your baby and get them used to the water from a young age. Many community pools have open swim during the day on weekdays, which means the only people in the pool are seniors and caregivers with babies and children too young for school! This can be a great place to meet other parents, and it's a fairly in-expensive activity since your baby isn't charged an admittance fee. Start small--aim for 15 minutes in the water and slowly increase the time you and baby spend there. Make sure you have a swim diaper for them though, or the lifeguard wont let you in, and you might have an awful mess to deal with! (regular diapers will explode if they soak up that much water and they won't hold any of the mess in.)
Stroller Fit: Stroller Fit activities can be found through groups like MeetUp or many organizations run classes that you can pay for as well. Essentially Stroller Fit is a great way to ease back into exercising with a baby in tow, and it also provides an opportunity to meet other parents as well. And like all of the recommended places to meet other mamas (or papas) it provides your baby with some socialization. You can even start up your own Stroller Fit group if one doesn't exist in your neighbourhood. Just find a nice park or trail, or a quiet neighbourhood to walk around in and stop periodically to do some other exercises and stretches. Your baby will love the fresh air, just make sure to dress them according to the weather, and keep sun protection in mind for your little.
What activities do you and baby do?