'Lifeline' as baby classes and groups restart across Suffolk
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
As baby and toddler groups start again, class leaders from Ipswich and Stowmarket have spoken about how important they are for mums and their children.
Indoor parent, baby and toddler groups were allowed to restart on April 15, but currently libraries and children's centres in Suffolk have not yet begun their usual programme of in-person activities.
Katie Fitzmaurice, who runs Jo Jingles music classes in Ipswich and Kesgrave, spoke about the struggles mums have faced during lockdown.
Katie said: "It is so great to be back running public classes again.
"It is such a fabulous sight to see all the adults with their little ones, smiling and having fun.
"Lockdown has been so isolating, particularly for new mums who haven't been able to meet and share experiences with fellow mums.
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"These classes are helping to support the grown-ups' mental wellbeing and the little ones' social development."
In Stowmarket, Suzi Bloomfield - who runs Moo Music classes - says mums have told her they feel like a "weight has been lifted from their shoulders", as they finally can take their babies to her classes.
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Mrs Bloomfield said one mum told her that the class has felt like a "lifeline" for her and her toddler.
"Reopening my classes for parents, babies and toddlers, has been wonderful," said Mrs Bloomfield.
"The smiles and laughter they bring are more important than ever.
"They may be the only place where parents see another person all day.
"It's important for their mental health, as well as the development of babies and toddlers.
"Even my own mental health benefits from being able to run them."
Which Suffolk baby groups and classes have restarted?
Suffolk mum Paige Giles runs a popular Facebook group , which includes daily listings of playgroups and classes in the Ipswich area.
She said: "I spend a lot of my time trying to scan Facebook and the internet to find out about all the classes and groups available in the local area - also places which offer SEN sessions for kids.
"Having a son who is on the autistic spectrum, I know how hard it can be and want to give as much information out as I can.
"Today, I had my first group mentioning they are opening - so it won't be long until other groups will follow and these lists and options will get longer."
If you are a class or group leader who wants to share what you have coming up, or a parent looking for something to do with your child, take a look at the - 'Ipswich playgroups and surrounding areas - lets go play group' on Facebook.
Jo Jingles classes Ipswich and Kesgrave
Katie runs Jo Jingles classes Monday to Friday in Ipswich, at All Saints Church in Kesgrave, and in Felixstowe and Henley.
Moo Music Stowmarket
Suzi's classes all currently take place at Stowmarket Community Centre, in Combs Ford.
The age range of the Moo Music sessions range from newborns to pre-schoolers. Find out more on the Moo Music Facebook page.
Little City Suffolk
Toddlers love the pop-up mobile city where they can role-play as vets, shopkeepers, hairdressers and whoever else they want to be.
Elmswell Baby and Toddler Group
Elmswell Baby and Toddler Group is one of those that is back up and running, although you do need to book a place.
Bury Soft Play
Bury Soft Play has sessions in Thurston and Honington this month. More details are on its Facebook page.
Children's centres across Suffolk remain closed. However, they are running some online classes, including baby massage.
The centres will be announcing when they will be reopening on their social media channels, so make sure you are following the ones closest to you.
Libraries are now open for browsing - but groups for children are not yet running.
It is is hoped there will be a few pilot groups coming soon, with sessions starting properly later this spring or early in the summer.
Have you been to a baby or toddler group in the last couple of weeks?
How has it felt to finally get out with your baby or toddler?
Ahead of UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week, we want to hear from mothers in our Mumlife Suffolk Facebook group.