Baby Boogie @ The Ark, Highwoods

Baby Boogie at Highwoods Children’s Centre, The Ark Methodist Church, Jack Andrews Drive off Gavin Way, Colchester (01206 845557) – 1:30 pm on Tuesdays. For babies aged between 0 and 12 months.

This is a great, free baby group (the free part is amazing considering how much fun it is!) Consequently it’s very popular with approximately 30 mums and babies there every week. I would suggest arriving early to bag a spot. Although I have never managed this myself and have been permanently late for everything for a while now…. Hmmm I wonder what’s causing that?! It may be the fact that leaving the house apparently causes disasters of the bottom variety (for Nell that is) or projectile vomiting or extreme hunger or all of the above.

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It starts at 1:30 pm. There is a buggy park in a spare room to dump all the miscellaneous baby stuff in until afterwards. As it’s run by Barnardo’s in conjunction with Essex County Council you have to sign in on arrival in the main hall. There is a circle formed of pillows. Pick your pillow, put down a mussy (muslin) followed by Bubs and you are good to go. I tend to take my shoes off as its more comfy and so others can gave the benefit of  admiring my awesome, 100% matching and completely non-holey, non-smelly socks…..

Nell has been going to this group since she was six months old but it is suitable for much smaller babies. The session incorporates songs, baby massage, baby yoga, instruments, ribbons, a giant parachute and cheerleader style pom poms! The lady running the session advises on adjustments to the actions/movements according to age.

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What is it about nursery rhymes that makes them so incredibly catchy. You will sound like a crazy person when you realize you are singing them to yourself, for example, in the queue at the supermarket sans baby.

“Gray squirrel, grey squirrel, swish your bushy tail…”

These songs will set up permanent residence in your brain. On loop. Handily a sheet containing the songs is provided so you can sing the songs at home rather than mumbling vaguely to an approximation of the tune. This is my forte and apparently incredibly annoying to all in my vicinity. Who’d have thought?

Nell loves the parts of the session that involve the instruments, ribbons and pom poms. A bag containing a shaker, two wooden beaters, some bells and some multicoloured ribbons is provided at the start together with a pom pom. Two laminated birds are also provided. Nell also adores the “two little dicky birds” although that seems to be due to the fact that laminated dicky birds are the height of haute cuisine. She loves shaking the shaker and bells. When she was smaller she stared in wonder at the pom pom and ribbons (these are used in the songs Grey Squirrel and Hickory Dickory Dock), now she likes the feel of the crinkly pom pom and the silky ribbon between her fingers.

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The session starts with the session leader singing the greeting song to all of the babies and then the babies lie on the pillows for a couple of songs incorporating baby massage and yoga. Then the parents get to their feet for the more energetic songs involving bouncing. Next the poms poms, dicky birds and bag of instruments are used and finally the session is rounded off using two giant parachutes. Now Nell can crawl she tends to try and escape at this point. All I can see as the parachute descends is a baby shaped lump going at full steam towards the smaller babies…. (it’s worrying to wonder what will be revealed on its next ascent)

Overall the session is good fun and Nell seems to enjoy it, although now she is older she is less inclined to lie still for the opening couple of songs incorporating the massage/yoga on the pillows. If you want to meet other mums and have fun with your little one it’s definitely worth giving it a go – you’ve got nothing to lose!

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