Baby dates

Forming friendships and bonds outside the home — while having fun

By Astrid Van Den Broek
Baby dates

Experienced moms and dads know how sanity saving it is to head out the door and mingle with other parents and tots during the long winter months. But if you’re new to the parent scene, where exactly can you go?

Enter the multiple parent-and-tot programs that dot the Greater Toronto Area. Whether it’s swimming, climbing, singing or signing, there’s a program out there for you. Who knows, you might just meet your BFF mom/dad-and-kid duo, too.

Move a muscle
Baby & Me Fitness lets you exercise together with your baby in a variety of programs — think Strollerfit, Body Sculpt Babies, Yoga Babies and more. Offered at a variety of locations around Toronto. Visit

Fitmom, with five GTA locations, lets you get your workout in through programs such as Fitmom + Baby, Fitparent + Toddler or Yoga Dance with Baby. Each workout ends with an activity for baby such as singing or finger play. Visit

Gymboree Play & Music for little ones 0–5 years lets your baby or toddler move about, climb under parachutes and more. (Note: Gymboree, which has programs in three locations in the GTA, also offers more specific music, art and sport classes). Go online to sign up for a free class pass to try the program. Visit

Sportball, which is offered for children as young as 15 months, gives your budding Annika Sorenstam or Andy Roddick a chance to learn some early, yet age-appropriate, sport skills by introducing a new sport each week for the duration of the program. Multiple locations throughout the GTA. Visit

The Little Gym lets your little ones and you burn off some steam through their parent-child classes, which go up to the age of four years. Classes are arranged by age group from Bugs (4–10 months) to Super Beasts (2 ½–3 years). In the GTA, classes are available in Vaughan and Oakville. Visit

Get your groove on
Boot Scootin’ Baby
gives you a chance to shamelessly plunk on a cowboy hat and get your line dancing on with your baby in a carrier. Note: Babies need to be at least six weeks old to participate. Classes offered in a number of GTA locations. Visit

Groove School of Dance offers classes for the older toddler (think 2 ½ years and up) called Shake, Rattle & Roll, which introduces both ballet and jazz to them. Two locations in Toronto. Visit

Salsa Babies, for infants as young as six weeks, teaches you how to cha-cha, samba and more with your babe snuggled close in a carrier. Salsa Tots gives older babies a chance to move on their own. Multiple locations in the GTA. Visit

Make a splash
Buckler Aquatics
, which has three GTA-based locations, offers monthly family swim sessions as well as weekly play sessions. Visit

City of Toronto has the popular Guardian Swim program, where children six months to five years swim with a parent. Note: Sign up the moment registration opens (online, by phone or in person) because these classes fill up fast. Visit

GS Aquatics lets you introduce your child to swimming through 30-minute parent and tot swim sessions for children aged six months to two years. Visit

State of the arts
Art Strollers
lets you pop your baby in a stroller to take in (or sleep through) a variety of gallery and museum tours including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Bata Shoe Museum and the Distillery District Gallery Tour. Visit

Kindermusik for infants up to kids age seven teaches unique songs using singing and a variety of instruments, and also gives you some take-home materials to practise. Visit

Making Music Together is exactly as it sounds — giving you a chance to sing and play instruments with your child. MMT offers babies-only classes (birth–6 months) as well as mixed-age classes. Visit

Musical Munchkins Inc., for children from birth to six years old, teaches them (and you!) finger play rhymes and lullabies, and uses puppets and age-appropriate instruments to get your babe moving. Visit

The Drama Mamas offer groups and classes for babes as young as 18 months, where they are introduced to early drama-based concepts such as creative drama games, role-play and even theme-based crafts. Visit

What a Mess in Oakville, Ont., helps you get over your fear of messy crafts by letting your little van Gogh (age 2+) dig into glitter, construction paper, paint and more. Programs include a drop-in craft time, which is also available to children under age two. Visit

Boost brainpower
Baby Sensory
classes help your babies with language, physical and emotional development through play, singing, movement and more. This U.K.-based program is offered in a number of GTA locations Visit

Little Hands Talking teaches you and your baby how to communicate through sign language. For infants as young as six months. Visit

MumNet gives you a break by supplying experienced sitters to watch your young children while you take in the 45-minute exercise program and discussion session on a variety of child-related topics. Visit

Ontario Early Years Centres offer regular infant and toddler playgroups, which let your babe explore some new toys and gives you a chance to find a friend to chat with. Go online to find the location nearest to you, and pop by for a schedule. Visit

Toronto Public Library (and/or your local public library) has more than books — think reading and singing programs for infants, toddlers, special programs and more. Tip: It’s also a good way to meet other parents right in your neighbourhood. For local branches, browse the Net using your city name plus “public library.” Or visit

Wee Hands offers both a variety of workshops and regular classes to teach your infant how to sign to ask for milk, a diaper change and more. Visit

This article was originally published on Oct 11, 2010

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