UK Maternity Leave isn’t the most generous, so it’s important to make the most of it. Here is my top ten list of activities to do with your new baby, I have tried to include a range of baby classes and activities to cover all budgets so if you need to stretch your maternity pay as far as possible, there will be some ideas here to help.
- Visit a children’s centre.
The first thing I would recommend for any mum on maternity leave in the UK should do is visit a local children’s centre. They offer all sorts of facilities such as mum and baby groups, stay and play sessions for babies and older children together, drawing and crafting sessions for kids, breastfeeding support, as well as help and advice on family services, and benefits etc.
- Take a Baby Massage Class
Some children’s centres offer baby massage classes for free. But there is often a long waiting list so make sure you put your name down early, especially if you don’t have a long time on maternity leave. Baby massage courses usually last around 6-8 weeks and you will learn a range of really useful techniques such as baby massage for colic and relaxing massage routines that can help babies sleep.
- Make a fingerprint or hand/footprint keepsake.
Babies don’t stay newborn for very long, so it’s important to find a way of remembering just how small they were! There are a range of ideas for capturing young babies’ fingerprints or hand/footprints whilst you are on maternity leave. Mugs and tiles are a great idea if you are on a budget starting from just £10. Or you might even be able to get a free one if you can attend one of my keepsake making sessions in and around the Wakefield and Pontefract areas. If you are looking for something extra special, then your child’s fingerprint or hand/footprint captured in fine silver jewellery is the perfect choice. Handmade silver fingerprint jewellery is a relatively new idea, and it is the perfect way to keep a little bit of your baby close to you, even as they grow and develop independence. Check out what I have to offer at www.lastingtouch.co.uk
- Discover the benefits of Baby Yoga
Yoga benefits are widely documented, but not many people realise that you can do yoga exercises with your new baby. Ask at your children’s centre, they may do free baby yoga classes, if not there are many private tutors who offer yoga classes for mums and babies at a reasonable cost. Yoga is a great way to relax and clam yourself and your baby, you will also learn some fun exercises that your baby will enjoy and will help you get your pre-pregnancy figure back too!
- Baby Swimming Lessons
Swimming lessons for babies are great fun and a great way to teach your child to swim from an early age. It is amazing to see babies swimming on their own and even swimming underwater! Many public pools offer swimming lessons for babies and toddlers, which are usually just a few pounds per session. If you want something more intense you could opt for private lessons, some even use hydrotherapy pools where the water is lovely and warm for you and your baby! Of course you don’t have to take baby swimming lessons, you could just take baby to the swimming pool yourself, many public pools have facilities for babies and toddlers, and some even have specific sessions for the younger ones so that they can experience being a water baby without the big kids splashing about too much!
- Visit the Library
This is a really good thing to do whilst on maternity leave. Babies love books, even newborns will enjoy listening to the sound of your voice as you read to them. Hardbooks and cloth books are ideal for little ones who are learning about books. Books can be expensive and some children (and parents!) may become bored of listening to the same stories over and over again. By registering at the local library you can swap your books as often as you like and always have fresh stories to read and chat about.
- Make a Treasure Box
Babies and children love to play with things they aren’t supposed to! That’s why treasure baskets are such fun! Fill your child’s treasure box with everyday items that are not baby toys but are safe for them to chew and play with; here’s a few examples of my children’s favourite treasure basket ideas:
Length of heavy chain
Metal rice plate
Heavy rubber do chew (a new one of course!)
Different fabrics, such as ribbon, silk, lace, cotton…Remember that these are not baby toys, and so your child should be closely supervised at all times whilst playing with and exploring them.
- Photos, Photos, Photos…
Babies develop and grow so fast, it’s great to look back at their progress with photographs. Try to take a photo at least once a month and put it to one side, at the end of the 1st year you will have 12 photos that show just how amazingly your baby has developed! Why not make them into a photo calendar for next year! These would make great gifts!
- Make a keepsake box or scrap book
Keepake boxes are a lovely way to look back on special memories, mine includes items such as the hospital tag, 1st babygrow, a hand and footprint, a newspaper from the day they were born, a lock of hair from the first haircut and numerous photos. My children are getting older now but I am still adding to my keepsake boxes, they also include 1st drawings, photos of 1st day at school and most recently a first lost tooth!
- Play outside
Most of the activities I have mentioned so far are indoor activities, but lets not forget the fun of outdoor activities for kids and babies! I will never forget the look on my son’s face the first time he walked barefoot on the grass! Pack up a picnic and go to the park, invite a few friends, baby yoga in the open air is lovely or even outdoor baby massage (if it’s warm enough). A trip to the beach can be a real adventure for any child but there is something magical about the first time. Take a bucket and collect shells to bring home for the treasure basket (wash them well and check for sharp bits first), or build a sandcastle and decorate it.
However you spend your maternity leave, make sure you enjoy every moment of it and create as many special memories as you can! And most importantly – have fun!