If you are a new mom or dad, there are a bunch of great things to do with your baby in Ottawa that don’t need to cost a thing! They also offer the opportunity to meet other parents and form invaluable parenting networks and friendships.
We canvassed parents in the area for their suggestions:
Take advantage of the opportunities and resources at the Ontario Early Years Centres located all over Ottawa. They offer drop-ins (including 0-12 months-only and bilingual) where young ones have access to a variety of learning activities. They also have special workshops and events available free of charge. And all centres are open to anyone, regardless of where you live.
Do the drop-ins at your closest location fill up quickly? Are you interested in the free infant massage classes offered at another centre? Go ahead and take advantage! Keep an eye on their event calendars and remember that their mandate is for ages 0-6, so they have many options for parents who also have an older child in tow.
It’s never too early to introduce your child to a love and appreciation of reading. The Ottawa Public Library offers many family-friendly programs and events at its many locations, including Babytime, where babies from 0-18 months can enjoy interesting books, stories, fun rhymes and songs. Storytime is also offered by a variety of Chapters stores across Ottawa in their kids’ sections.
You might not have considered this for children less than one year old, but a few local gymnastics clubs like Starr Gymnastics & Fitness and Kanata GymnoSphere offer free baby-only drop-ins. For example, Starr Gymnastics & Fitness offers a free baby playgroup (12 months and under only), led by a certified pre/post-natal instructor, where children can explore bright colours, different textures, and use soft equipment.
All of the Boomerang Kids stores offer free one-hour strollercise classes. This interval training opportunity is led by certified fitness instructors and is open to parents of all fitness levels – walk or run, the choice is yours, as is whether you use your stroller or your baby carrier.
If you’d like to take a slower pace to your exercise regimen with baby, consider the Mommy and Me Yoga classes (Dads also welcome) offered at Bayshore Shopping Centre. These classes (running until Oct. 27) are open to babies as young as eight weeks old.
And keep informed about what is offered through the City of Ottawa. For example, until the end of August, Ottawa City Hall is offering free Salsa Babies classes. Tuck your babies into their carriers, and enjoy a workout where you can also introduce your baby to music and dance.
Don’t forget to use social media to your advantage – join your local mom/dad groups on Facebook and invite others to play dates, nature walks, and neighbourhood park and splash pad outings. Babies can observe older children interacting and explore their surroundings.