Having a baby in a foreign country can be a daunting experience, and that is just for starters! Now that the little bundle of joy is here, what to do with it? Even a second-time mum can sometimes feel she could do with some hints on stimulating her baby. Fortunately, Learn and Play Center Monkey Business offers a 1.5-hour workshop for new mums that teaches you how to stimulate your baby’s development.
Our group consisted of five adults and five babies. The room was very spacious and comfortable. Monkey Business’ Krisztina, an experienced movement therapist, started off by showing us how to walk with our babies. It is such a simple thing to do, but it can be a playful exercise, too. In fact, she explained, a baby learns and develops new skills when you do new and unexpected things during walking like holding your baby in different ways, singing, skipping a little, or suddenly changing pace!
We then sat down and did a couple of yoga-like exercises with our babies. For instance, pushing his feet toward his head, having him grab his left foot with his right hand or stretching his arms to the side. My own little bundle of joy of course was the only one not cooperating on the arm stretching exercise, thinking it was an arm wrestling challenge instead, but he got the hang of it once we tried it again at home.
If you need to feed your baby during the workshop, there are all the facilities for doing so either in a separate, comfortable room or in the classroom. And should your baby’s full stomach prevent you from taking part in the exercises (some of them will almost definitely have messy results), Krisztina will do them with you at the end of the lesson just so you know how to do them correctly.
We had a tea break after three quarters of an hour, giving us a chance to get to know each other. Of course we compared hospitals, doctors, births, and last but not least, babies. It was quite therapeutic to be able to share stories about having a baby in a foreign country.
After the break, Krisztina showed us some games with and without equipment. Swinging and swaying, dropping, flying, a fun sitting position to swing in. Little squares of different materials for stimulating the senses, a simple towel to use as a swing, or rolling a ball to and fro for hand-eye coordination: all great fun while stimulating baby’s development. And none of it requires expensive toys.
We ended by Krisztina talking about which milestones in your baby’s development to look out for, which toys she recommends or thinks might be less suitable, and that sort of thing. It is easy to tell she has a background in movement therapy as she explains exactly what a certain exercise is good for or what it helps develop. It is also good to find out about developmental things like crawling being beneficial for later life.
Having taken the workshop some time ago, I still do some of the exercises on a daily basis using the hand-out as a reference. Not only does my little guy enjoy them a lot, some of them seem to give him relief (sorry to get so factual) when he is suffering from stomach cramps and burps. We had a great time, we made some new friends, and we still have fun every day putting what we learned into practice!
(This article originally appeared in Funzine.)
Monkey Business Play and Learn Centre, 1125 Budapest, Zsolna utca 2.
Movement classes: 8 months – 36 months
Mother and Baby workshop: 2-8 months
Baby sign-language course: under 2’s
Check out the Monkey Business website for a current description and schedule of classes.