Parenting: With a bit of encouragement and a lot of padding, babies love to be on the move

Babynippers is at Craiglockhart. Pic: Baby Nippers
Babynippers is at Craiglockhart. Pic: Baby Nippers
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HAVING participated in Tumble Tots classes with my daughter when she was a toddler and finding them to be very beneficial, I was keen to do the same again when my little boy Sam came along

And, three years down the line I discovered there were a lot of new classes in town, one of which was Baby Nippers which was being offered at our local sports centre.

Baby Nippers was set up by Lori Lee and Nicola Fielding last October and there are two classes available, the first from eight weeks to crawling and the second, crawling to 18 months old.

Each class follows the same format of a ten-15-minute warm up where parents and babies join in action songs and activities which encourage the babies to develop their socialisation skills. Then parents are free to take their little ones on to the equipment where babies can work on developmental skills such as rolling, crawling, balancing and walking. Everyone comes back together for the last five minutes of the class for a soothing activity before going home.

Coaches Lori and Nicola are fully qualified in Fun4Baby and Pre-school gymnastics through British Gymnastics and have more than 27 years combined experience in coaching various flavours of gymnastics.

As Sam was already at the crawling stage we enrolled in the second class which was an instant hit. But if you look at it from a ten-month-old’s point of view, how could it not be? An entire gym hall to crawl or stumble around with the added bonus of a padded floor, some great equipment, plenty of toys, other babies and two coaches who are brilliant with kids - really, what’s not to like?

Having done taster sessions in a few similar classes what really impressed me about this one was the equipment and don’t laugh – the floor! The benefit of having a padded floor over the entire room as opposed to just under key pieces of equipment really encourages your baby to move – at speed! You may regret encouraging this once you get home, but boy does it make my son giggle when he realises how quickly he can get away from his mum. The equipment is also superb with proper trampolines, gymnastic beams, tunnels, crash mats and at the end of term we even had a bouncy castle.

Once the children have done their warm up and danced with Mickey Mouse, the free play session begins and the children can roam where they like. Climbing is encouraged – again something you may regret when you get home but at least here they learn to do it safely although that’s probably not what I said when I found Sam scaling the washing basket last week.

Ultimately Baby Nippers classes aim to provide babies with a framework of skills which helps them get from one stage to the next (ie, lying to rolling, sitting to crawling etc) at their own pace. There’s no yummy mummy competition, it’s relaxed, it’s fun and it’s safe – it’s definitely a winner for us.

Baby Nippers classes are currently offered at Meadowbank Sports Centre, The Royal Commonwealth Pool, Craiglockhart Sports Centre and Portobello Indoor Bowls. Classes cost £4.50 per session; for timetables, tel: 0131-458 2179 or email karenmcgrath@edinburgh