Tester’s take: When my son, Dexter, turned one, I figured it was time to venture out of the house and join the real world again. While many programs for young children require a minimum age of 3-5, baby gymnastics, aka “Punkins,” allows babies as young as 1 to participate. Since Dex is full of energy and hadn’t started walking by his first birthday, I figured a class focused on movement would be perfect for him.
Goal: An introduction to gymnastics focused on large motor skill development, balance, and coordination
Age range: 1-2 years (other programs are available for older kids)
Cost: $15 Max Members; $30 Associate Members
Times: Times vary depending on the YMCA/JCC location (see website)
Naptime friendly: Yes. All of the times are before or after most afternoon nap schedules.
Stroller/wheelchair accessible: Yes. There is an elevator available to the second-floor gymnasium.
Things to consider: While not all of the times are convenient for working parents, we chose the 4:30-5pm class so that my husband could leave work a little early in order to see Dex in action once or twice. Also, if your child is still crawling, as mine was, I would recommend bringing sanitizing wipes for his/her hands after crawling around the equipment and the gym floor (and Dex far preferred the basketball court to the gymnastics equipment).
Additional benefits: Besides climbing, balancing, and jumping on exciting new objects and practicing gross motor skills, babies/toddlers can interact with other children their age in a safe, contained environment. Parents are also able to chat while easily maintaining eye contact with their child(ren).
What it’s like: Class starts with an interactive song that involves some hand gestures and clapping, and then the kids are allowed to explore the equipment at their leisure. Each week, the equipment is in a different configuration to match a certain theme, such as “Over, Under, and Through” or “Circus.” There are balance beams, a trampoline, uneven bars, tunnels, barrels, and obstacles of different shapes. All of the gymnastics equipment is lowered to be close to the floor, with plenty of padding nearby in case of spills. The class ends with a partner version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Sylvania YMCA/JCC, 6465 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania. ymcatoledo.org