So what do you do with a baby who just wants to wriggle everywhere??!
The obvious choice is soft play centres, which are beginning to come into their own. They seem best earlier in the day in the middle of the week as Wriggles becomes very overwhelmed and distressed when they are noisy and full of bigger children. One near me has a sensory room also which I was very impressed with. Unfortunately Wriggles was slightly less impressed and finds it all a bit too much. They are easier to go to if we go as part of a group outing so she recognises other babies and parents around and can attention seek if she so wishes! I suspect as she gets older they will become a much more used haunt.
Parks are a favourite on a sunny day, or basically a day when it is not hurricane conditions. When there was nicer weather, we would decamp there with a picnic blanket, sun hat (wishful thinking), lunch, a spare feed, a few toys and books and a parasol and while away a few hours investigating twigs, dirt, grass and the icing on the cake: swings. We found swings relatively late as she was not to be trusted in supporting herself for what felt a long time, but now we have found them there is no stopping us! When we approach the little playground at our local park, Wriggles gets so excited and starts waving her hands and dribbling with anticipation. It is far sweeter than it sounds!
Farms and animal centres so far have drawn little interest as she is more interested in looking at the other small children and trying to either hide in my coat or wriggle out of my grip. Cultural places unfortunately are also echoey which means they are ideal places for her to try out her voice. I can live with her hooting but other visitors tend to get a little miffed that their intellectual peace is being disturbed.
Thankfully, I have recently found that two of the museums in the city centre have designated pre-school areas which are our current haunts and life savers. As big public places they have reasonably good access and facilities and both have cafes afterwards for a caffeinated treat-for me not Wriggles that is. The Laing Gallery and the Great North Museum in Newcastle are both operated by Tyne and Wear Museums which run several places across the Tyne and Wear. The Laing houses several floors of art and antique pieces dating back from around the seventeenth century until the modern. It has several local exhibits and is quite traditional. It has a great area dedicated to under 5s and has an adjoining area for older children to craft. Both are next to the cafe so an easy trip afterwards and has a secure gate to stop any minxes escaping. The area has an array of toys and books as well as some interactive art activities. One of the best, and our favourite, is a colour mixing bubble lamp. Yes-HOW good?! There is a colour wheel next to it, and as you press different combinations the lamp 'mixes' the colours. Such a great way for more aware children to learn and for younger children and babies to get sensory stimulus and a 'reward' for practising fine motor skills like pressing buttons.
The Great North Museum is my favourite; it is like a museum of curiosities. Among the dinosaurs, Ancient Egyptians, remnants of Hadrian's Wall and sparkly things, there is a myriad of stuffed animals. A huge exhibition of them, some in glass cases and some suspended in mid air or open to see. The really are a spectacle and a wonderful resource for children to see them up close, even if they are dead. The pre-school area here is called the Mouse House and is a dedicated room which boasts story times on Thursday mornings and every other Saturday. There are some simple exhibits for children and a tree trunk filled with sparkling stars, puppets and dressing up, books and a soft play style giant cheese with holes to jump down. It can get very busy, but at quiet times is fabulous and much time can be spent whiled away. It is very easy to walk straight into the main museum from there as well if it all gets a bit too much. Best of all, both places are free!
What do you or did you do with energetic and opinionated little people not quite walking yet?