If there’s a lack of baby and toddler groups in your area, or you’ve not found one that appeals to you, then you could try and set up your own activity group.
Activity groups are loved by all – both mums and dads and babies and toddlers. Babies and toddlers benefit from the interaction they get with their peers, plus they get the opportunity to try out new activities and learn new skills. Parents usually benefit too, as it’s a chance for them to catch up with other mums, have a bit of a gossip and share tips and advice on what parenting skills, feeding techniques or other issues work for them.
Although there are a wide variety of baby and toddler groups in existence around the UK, not all areas are as well provided for as others. For example, families living in the country or in small villages aren’t always quite so well catered for as those living in or near a city.
Most baby and toddler groups are run on an informal basis, with parents and carers staying to supervise their children. Sessions may include some simple activities, such as reading stories, singing songs, playing with toys and refreshments, such as tea or coffee for parents and water or fruit juice for children.
Things to Consider When Starting a Baby and Toddler Group
When you’re setting up a baby and toddler group, you’ll need to consider a number of factors, such as:
- How you plan to run the group.
- What sessions will include – if you plan to have play activities or toys, then you may need to raise money to fund the cost of toys.
- Where you’ll hold the group – you may need to hire a hall or room.
- How often it will run and how long each session will be – most groups run either weekly or fortnightly in term times.
- How many parents and children your group can accommodate.
- If attendees will need to pay a small fee (usually needed to cover the cost of any hall hire and cups of tea or coffee).
- Yours aims for the group.
- Whether refreshments will be served.
- Where you’ll advertise your group.
If it all sounds like a lot of hard work, then it is worth bearing in mind that some local council’s may be willing to be involved in helping to set up baby and toddler groups or provide a small amount of funding towards it. To see if there’s any help available in your area, you’ll need to contact your local Children’s Information Service for more information.
Once you’ve done the groundwork and launched a group, there’s still lots of work to be done with running each session. Ideally, you’ll need a small team of people who are willing to take turns with helping. For example, you’ll need someone to open up the room and set it up for each session, be responsible for collecting the fees from attendees and keeping records of who attends, keeping a register of attendees in each session (this is essential in case of fire), set up and organise the refreshments, clear and tidy up at the end and ensure the room is looked again afterwards.
Informal baby and toddler groups such as these aren’t governed by strict health and safety restrictions, but where there are young children involved, you do need to be well aware of safety issues and ensure the premises don’t pose any danger.
If you’re using toys or play equipment, then you must ensure they conform to all safety standards. If there are pieces of equipment, such as climbing frames, that children may climb on, then always ensure they are safe and stable before a session commences. Don’t forget to have a first aid kit handy and someone trained in first aid on hand in case accidents occur.
If you’re concerned about health and safety issues, or other aspects involved with running a baby and toddler group, then your local council should be able to offer advice. For parents keen to do their best for their children and give them plenty of opportunities to learn and play with their peers, running a baby and toddler group can be very rewarding.