The bab and I absolutely ❤️ Gymboree.
It sounds a little expensive when you first sign up, but is absolutely worth it. The girls who run it could be straight out of a Disney film or CBeebies set, and seem to have boundless energy and lots of fun ideas to get babies moving and learning.
Plenty of sensory play, singing, bubbles, parachute games and opportunities to get pre-crawlers crawling and pre-walkers walking. Other islington mamas told me that this was where their kids learned to crawl and made their first friends. Each week follows a theme, for example rocking, balancing, crawling, which keeps things fresh and allows the babies to become familiar with all of the different toys and equipment. Sessions are targeted at 0-6 months, 6-10 months, 10-16 months, etc, so nothing is too overwhelming.
The building itself is amazing – the entire downstairs area is given over to all sorts of play equipment on padded floors (they pride themselves on being the cleanest children’s play area in islington), as well as separate rooms for music and art activities. Upstairs is a handy room with sofas and high chairs – useful as the babies’ little brains work so hard during sessions that they are usually starving or exhausted by the time the class is finished!
There are plenty of other music and sensory groups in the area, but none as well set up and versatile as Gymboree.
- Website: http://gymboree-uk.com/f/islington/
- Location: 60 Highbury New Park
- Cost: £15 membership fee, and £55 a month (make-up classes are available if you miss sessions for holiday or illness).
- Getting there: The 393 stops right outside, and Islington resident roamer parking means you can park between 11-3 if you have a permit within the borough. Alternatively, it’s only about ten minutes walk from High&I station!