Babies and their mums 'flourish' as groups start up again

Four babies enjoying baby classes

Babies are venturing out to groups in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Stowmarket and it is improving the mental health of their mums - Credit: Sing and Sign Ipswich/ Kat Garnham/ Gemma Brunning/ABPStowmarket

Two Suffolk mums that have given birth in lockdown have started up their own baby groups as a way of boosting their mental health, and encouraging their babies to interact with other children. 

Kat Garnham, who lives in Felixstowe, gave birth to her daughter Ella during the first lockdown in 2020.

When baby groups did start opening up again last summer, Miss Garnham found there were none in her local area and decided to take matters into her own hands. 

Baby holding glowstick

Ella Garnham-Todd was born during the first lockdown in 2020 - she is now more confident after attending a baby group run by her mum - Credit: Kat Garnham

She said: " I decided to open up my own baby group Butterfly Babies, my daughter has attended every lesson with my mum accompanying her. 

"Not only has this hugely increased my sense of wellbeing but my daughter is now a confident little girl.

"A far cry from what she was like before she attended the group."

Baby enjoying baby group

Ella Garnham-Todd enjoying the Butterfly Babies group in Felixstowe - Credit: Kat Garnham

Miss Garnham added: " My own maternal mental health improved seeing local parents, and my daughter so happy to be in a group."

"My customers often remark at how wonderful it is to be socialising and having a routine. 

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"Many parents have felt isolated and lonely during recurrent lockdowns and constant restrictions; undoubtedly having a negative impact on mental health.

"It's wonderful to see our young babies finally beginning to flourish and I look forward to what the future holds for all local baby groups."

Smiling mum holding a baby

Gemma Brunning, pictured with her daughter Holly, will be starting a baby group in Kirton in July - Credit: GEMMA BRUNNING

Gemma Brunning is another Suffolk mum who has seen the benefit of baby groups since they were able to restart last month. 

Mrs Brunning, who gave birth to her daughter Holly during the January lockdown this year, has been taking her little girl swimming and to Jo Jingles classes over the last few weeks. 

She said: " I know how incredibly lonely being a parent, especially a first time parent, has been.

"I was so excited when I realised that baby groups were starting on April 12 that as soon as I could book onto a couple of them I did. 

" It’s so important for our babies to socialise after missing out on this for the first months of their lives.

It’s been horrible not having my baby girl meet all of my friends and family, except through the window. 

"I can’t wait to start my stay and play group Holly Blossom Explorers in Kirton next month." 

Mum and baby having a picnic

Chloe Shelcott and her daughter Isabelle - Credit: Chloe Shelcott

Chloe Shelcott, from Suffolk, has spoken about the virtual coffee mornings run by Suffolk Libraries during the pandemic. 

She said: " The 'Me, Myself and Baby' group run by Suffolk Libraries has been a lifeline.

"It's a virtual coffee morning but after a year of chatting weekly online with the same four mums, we're now finally meeting up in person.

"It makes such a difference to get out of the house and see our babies playing happily together for the first time, just as they all turn one." 

Nickie, who runs Sing and Sign classes in Ipswich said: "Since returning to class I have had many parents comment on how much they had needed the classes.

"Lockdown as we know has been incredibly tough on us all.

"Parents with young babies have found it incredibly challenging, not being able to socialise, not just for the babies but for their own mental health as well.

"We all know parenting is hard and it can be so very lonely at times.

"Throw in a pandemic where you can’t even leave your home, see your friends and family and gain the extra support needed. It’s been a huge struggle for many."  

She added: "Welcoming parents back to our class in a Covid secure, socially distanced way has been a joy."

"Baby and toddler classes seem to be a rite of passage for parents.

"Not just for the babies to socialise, but to also get the parents out, meeting other new parents, talking about their exciting new journey and the milestones their little ones are hitting."  

Mums and buggy group in Ipswich

Mums in Ipswich are getting out and about to baby groups, including the Fitness Unit Buggy Workout in Ipswich - Credit: Rachel Bond

It is not just traditional baby groups that have been helping mums feel more positive. 

Sarah Williams has been speaking about the benefits or keeping fit outdoors with her baby son Isaac.

"I joined the Fitness Unit Buggy Workout via Zoom in November and attended every Tuesday and Friday.

"This gave me something to look forward to and also helped my mental health," said Sarah. 

"Now I have taken on the challenge to run the London Marathon but would not have even considered it if it wasn't for the support of, Rachel Bond who runs the group, and the postnatal exercises we do with her.

"We are now back in Christchurch Park with the babies and it's wonderful to workout with your baby and have the fresh air." 

Mum enjoying a baby massage class

The Moo Music ' Moo Massage' sessions run at Stowmarket Community Centre, are a great way for mums to bond with their baby - Credit: ABPStowmarket

Baby groups and classes in Suffolk 

You can find out more about baby and toddler groups across Suffolk here. 

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