So you have a new baby? Chances are you’re home on maternity leave for a while, not seeing your friends as often as you’re used to, and getting yourself and the baby washed, dressed, fed, rested and out the door takes a bit of tricky planning. Despite the challenges of getting out with a new baby, being social can really help in those early days with a newborn. Here are five free or nearly-free mom and baby drop-in ideas to help you network with other new moms.
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Vancouver Coastal Health Unit Mom and Baby Drop-In Groups
These popular meetings are one of the best places to find like-minded new parents. Mix and mingle with other moms and dads on maternity or paternity leave, ogle everyone’s babies, have a quick weigh-in with the health nurse, and get those niggling questions answered during the topical discussion each week. Some of the best friends and most fantastic child-care opportunities came from people I met at the health unit’s baby group, and I highly recommend that all new moms go and check out the group in their neighbourhood. It’s also totally free. Days and times vary according to the age of your baby and your neighbourhood, so call ahead to confirm.
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Neighbourhood houses are also good places to find parent groups and mom and baby drop-in resources in your neighbourhood. The Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House holds Sing and Grow sessions on Thursdays from 10 am-11:30 am, and another session at Creekside Community Centre on Tuesdays from 10 am-11:30 am and provides an opportunity to make friends, learn a few songs and fingerplays, and let your baby chew on a few novel toys. Suggested donation of $2-$3. Call ahead to confirm the schedule.
Like neighbourhood houses, Vancouver’s Family Places all offer an inclusive and accessible place for babies and preschool aged kids to play while caregivers chat. Family Places also run workshops and parenting support groups, such as the Nobody’s Perfect group or baby massage classes. The mom and baby drop-in costs $2, and includes crafts, snack and circle time. There’s a family place on the West side, East side, Mount Pleasant, and South side.
The Vancouver Public Library offers storytimes for babies, toddlers and families at various times and locations across the city. Whether you go to the Mandarin storytime or the mid-morning babytime, you’ll discover new books to read to your baby, learn a few new songs and rhymes and make some new friends. Specific times and dates for the branch nearest you can be found on the VPL website.
Wesbrook Welcome Centre also has weekly storytimes, and mom and baby drop-in sessions, all for free.
Community Centre Play Gyms
Many of the local community centres host open play gyms for a $1-$2 fee. The available equipment varies from centre to centre, but there’s usually a corner with soft mats for smaller babies to crawl around. If you just need to get out of the house, it can be a lifesaver. The vancouver.ca site has a handy Parent and Tot activity schedule you can filter for your local community centre.
Life may never be the same again when you become a mom, but early motherhood is a great time to make friends with people from many different backgrounds who have babies too. It’s also very reassuring to hear that other moms are dealing with the same challenges. Whether you head out to the Health Unit or drop in at the library, there’s a free mom and baby drop-in near you.
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.