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Getting the Most Out of Mommy-Daddy and Baby Classes

By Maureen Connolly for Your Baby Today
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p>If you attend a Mommy/Daddy and Baby class -- like music, yoga, or exercise -- thinking that they'll give your infant an intellectual edge, think again. "These classes don't make your baby any smarter, but they do have a multitude of other benefits," says Andrea Grimaldi, M.S.Ed., a project manager for the non-profit Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families based in Washington, D.C.


p>The best reason to enroll your infant in one of these classes? You get to spend one-on-one time with your baby, which is essential for healthy development, says Grimaldi. Your baby also gets to be in a room full of other adorable infants doing baby-like things, which they happen to get a real kick out of since they get to see themselves mirrored. And even at this young age, infants are learning social skills which are also essential to their development.


p>But before you sign up for one of these classes, Grimaldi says there are a few things you can do to ensure that you get your money's worth:


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li>Prior to registering, see if you can drop by and observe a class. Is it a safe and clean space? Are the floors clean? Are the mats dusty? Do they provide air conditioning for summer months or proper heating in the winter? A too-cold or overheated infant will quickly become irritable. Is there adequate lighting? A room full of fluorescent lights could over-stimulate your infant.
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li>Do they provide an area for diaper changes that's clean and convenient?
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li>How well does the teacher interact with the kids? Babies will respond to someone who's enthusiastic and seems to be enjoying herself.
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li>Ask if they'll provide the names and numbers of a few parents who've already taken the class so you can call to ask about their experience.
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li>Find out if there's a limit on class size. There's a whole different dynamic in a class of 10 children versus 15 or more. A lot of babies in one room can take away from the purpose of the class -- especially since there's bound to be some crying and fussing.
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li>Inquire about a make-up policy for sick days and inclement weather. If you know you won't be able to make a certain class, sign up right away for a make-up since these slots tend to fill up quickly.
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  • Don't think you need to spend big bucks to get a quality experience. Often your town's parks and recreation department will offer infant or toddler classes for a lot less than what you'd pay for one of the more popular classes.

     



  • Be sure to dress your infant in comfortable clothing that she can easily move around in. While it may be nice to show her off in her pretty, new purple dress, she won't be too happy if she can't crawl and climb without getting caught up in it. And since you can't always predict what temperature the classroom will be, dress your baby in layers or bring an extra sweater.

     



  • When choosing the time slot, consider your child's nap and eating schedule. One to two hours after he's napped and eaten is usually ideal since he'll be fully alert and had time to digest his food. Since these classes can take a lot out of your child, he may be looking to nap right afterwards, which means you might not want to head to grocery store right afterwards. (Unless, of course, he falls asleep in the car and happily stays asleep while you get your errands done!)

     



  • Finally, don't expect too much at first. Remember that it can take some time for your baby to adjust to new surroundings and people. And, just like adults, your infant is going to have off-days. But once the two of get into a groove, Mommy/Daddy and Baby classes will no doubt be one of the highlights of the week for the both of you.



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