Lately, my friends and I have noticed a recurring trend in the parents we’ve been meeting. If they have an infant or young toddler one of the first things they bring up is the different classes their baby is taking. We’ve discussed this, and my friends and I are pretty certain this exact exchange happens in almost every conversation:
Have you taken your LO to Baby Rhyme Time?
Little Wyatt just loves Baby Gymnastics!
I take Skylar to Baby Yoga every Sunday.
When my daughter was about three months old, I started to fall victim to these momversations. So, naturally, I decided to start adding these “enrichment” programs to her schedule, too.
We started out at our local library for their once-a-month baby class and, sure enough, I suddenly understood why this was all anyone was talking about. I found myself enjoying this special time with baby as we learned nursery rhymes together and played with puppets.
I felt like my daughter genuinely enjoyed it, too, so, at six months old, I made the assumption that the two of us were ready for something a little more steady. I started asking other parents what class they found their baby truly enjoyed and almost everyone I spoke to said the same thing: Music Class.
Not only did they all say music class, they all said the exact same class… Everyone was going to Music Class. In all of my countless hours spent researching parenting tips, music was always a top suggestion when it came to helping babies develop healthy brains. I had procured enough evidence and suffered through enough FOMO to face the inevitable: baby and I must go to music class. So, I quickly signed us up, certain that this would be exactly what we were looking for.
I was so excited for our first class that I structured our whole morning routine around it – prior planning prevents poor performance, right? Baby had a relaxing morning playing at home, she napped, and she even ate right before we left the house.
When we got to the studio, she was so happy! She smiled at the other babies and played with the musical instruments the instructor had laid out for everyone. I made small talk with the other parents, all of whom told me how wonderful the class has been and how they have brought multiple children to it over the years. I was so excited to do this with my little one!
After about 6 or so babies arrived, the instructor called everyone to the center of the room and told us to sit in a circle. With a ukulele in her lap, she began to sing “Hello, everybody… so glad to see you.”The other parents began to sing along, clapping their hands to the beat, as we all swayed side to side, babies in laps.
My daughter immediately started crying, scrambling to climb up my chest, burying her face into my neck.
Up until this moment, I had never experienced this sort of reaction with her to anything. I rubbed her back, our swaying becoming less enthusiastic. Ssshhhh… it’s ok honey. Her crying escalated.
The other parents looked at us but continued smiling and singing, politely trying to hide their expressions of your daughter is killing our vibe.
I did my best to continue to console her and bring her back to the moment, but it just wasn’t working. It was clear it was going to get worse before it got better. I hastily got up and took her out to the lobby. As soon as we left the room, she calmed down and her little smile reappeared.
I decided to give her a minute to let her relax further. Inside, the group sang their way through another two songs. I took a step towards the door. Instant baby scream.
After repeating this process another two times I decided that this simply was an off day. After all, she loves music, everyone swears this class is the best thing ever so…. it will be better next week.
It wasn’t. Nor was the week after that.
After the third time wasn’t a charm, I knew it was time to pull the plug. I came upon the realization that just like everything else in parenting 1) you have to be flexible and 2) there is no one size fits all.
Yes, my baby loves music. Yes, she loves seeing other babies. That doesn’t mean she is going to like Music Class. It doesn’t matter if you, as a parent, have your heart set on something or feel so sure that it is a fit… baby is going to tell you, in their own way, exactly how they feel about something. You can’t force it because it just won’t work.
Despite my own internal disappointment, it was also a cool experience once I looked back at it in hindsight. It was the first time my daughter had clearly demonstrated a semi-complex personal preference. Another step in her emotional development.
While it didn’t have the effect I thought it would have, it definitely taught me something about my baby and caused me to pivot my parenting. At the end of the day, doing what is right for your baby will always be the right choice.