NHM Reader Recommendations: Toddler groups for socialising children and parents

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I was really hoping the NHM Community could help with. I know that there are groups on NHM but thought maybe there were other support groups that could also help: “I have 2 children, a 2yr old and a 4year old. My 4 year old is very shy and I do not have any friends with children. I feel really isolated. I would love to find out about some groups (regular ones that I can keep going to) to give my 4yr old an opportunity to mix with other children and me to make some friends.”

Thank you so much for all the responses and also for the kind offers to meet up. The group suggestions are listed below in no particular order:

NHM Reader Recommendations: Toddler groups for socialising children and parents

Edie said “Sherborne St John baby and toddler group on a Wednesday in term time at 9.45-11.30am in the village hall is a very friendly group that is a good way to meet other mums.”

Shirley said “Sycamore Halls Community Centre has two parent and toddler groups… Monday 10 til 12 and Thursday 10 til 12… term time only”

Hannah said “Basing beans is a lovely friendly group. They have a Facebook page. Also places like fun house are good as the kids kind of gravitate towards each other.”

  • Stephanie asked “Hi,is basing beans still running? We’ve been twice(term time) in the last 2 months and the building was in darkness and locked”
  • Jenni replied “Hi Stephanie, I’m not sure if you know but Basing Beans moved to Lychpit Village Hall a while ago, it’s still great fun!”

Rebecca said “Mini Professors is good for 2-4 year olds.”

Allison R said “Two friendly toddler groups held at St Mary’s Church, Goat Lane Eastrop. Tues and Thurs term time, 10am – 11.30am. Many parents bring pack lunches and stay on for more chats and social ‘indoor picnic’!”

Lene said “I run Little Learners Basingstoke (aimed at 5 months to 5 years). A messy play group developing early writing skills and mark making. The classes are small and very relaxed. https://www.facebook.com/LLBasingstoke/

Joanna said “BusyBees Hook is a lovely craft toddler group, Friday mornings at 9.45am”

Laura said “I really recommend Muddy Puddles forest school. Being outside gives shyer children space to make friendships at their own pace. And brilliant for my 2 who are almost 2 and almost 4.”

  • Edie said “Second that actually, we’ve just started our second term”
  • Sarah said “Muddy Puddle Forest School is amazing!”

Erica said “Come and join the fun at Pop Up Play Village on a Wednesday morning in Beggarwood Community Centre. We’ve had a few people come who have felt like that… It’s hard feeling like that. Once your 4 year old gets school visits underway that might help as they meet Classmates. Www.facebook.com/popupplayvillagebasingstoke

Mary said “Do you use your preschool hours? If you find the one where most children go to the school your child will go to you maybe able to benefit for the rest of the term and then meet up with people in the holidays. My issue with lots of groups is they stop in the holidays so you might need to arrange to meet people through the holidays to maintain friendships.”

Mandy said “The Link, Newchurch Road in Tadley have various toddler groups on, all very friendly. Monday 1.15 to 2.45pm cheeky cherubs, Tuesday Little Squigglers Messy Play 9.30am to 11am, Wednesday Cheeky Chimps 9.30am to 11.30am, 2nd and 4th Thursday 9.30 to 11.30am Little Explorers Soft Play. There is also groups run by others like Totcross Buns on Thursday Mornings and Caterpillar Music on a Friday. All the groups are really friendly.”

  • Allison (Tot Cross Buns) replied “Thank you for the recommendation Mandy. We have spaces on Thursday and love meeting new mini bakers and their grown ups.

Wendy said “Basingstoke gymnastics run classes everyday that would accommodate both children.”

Rachael said “Sherfield Park community centre 0-5 toddler group on a Tuesday 10am-12pm. Very friendly group. If you want a smaller group to get her used to people first there is also Bumps into mums every Friday morning at Sherfield Park community centre just pay for drinks and cakes. Runs every week throughout the year (apart from bank holidays and Christmas) 10am-12pm. Kids ages range from newborns through to school starters”

Cerys said “NCT Coffee & Chat, Friday mornings 10.00 at Brookvale Village Hall”

Rachel said “TinyTalk Basingstoke – Baby signing and Toddler Talking classes have a social time as part of the class and I have had so many Mummies and little ones make firm friendships in class!”

Katie said “Join us at Cookery Doodle Doo – with a max preschool class size of 6, the children sit together and cook with me. You’re welcome to help her, or sit at my kitchen table with your littler one and watch/chat/drink coffee. Whatever works for you on the day. Trial class only £5 if you contact me to book. Or try our short pop-up on Thursday 10th May at the Overton Coffee Shop – all the adults join in and help at this fun Flowerpot Cheesecake class for little tots (walking/talking) up to preschool. Both your kids could do that one Www.Cookerydoodledoo.Com/northhants

Naomi said “Melrose Hall has two tot groups running one on a Tues and one on a Friday. The Friday one is very small in numbers so all are welcome”

Sasha said “Oakridge hall does a lovely playgroup on a Tuesday 9:45 -11:15 I have a 4yr and 2yr old and moved here not knowing anyone and felt isolated too.”

Juliet said “I started taking my shy boy to Tot Cross Buns about a year ago when he was two, the class size was perfect for him and the involvement has done wonders for his confidence. It‘s great for meeting other mums too”

  • Allison (Tot Cross Buns) said “Thank you for the recommendation Juliet. We love our mini bakers and enjoy meeting new faces”

Jaz said “Caterpillar Music is suitable for both ages and siblings are free too. I hated playgroups as would sit on my own and not be brave enough to talk to anyone. Structured classes I find much better and less scary. Being a mum is so daunting when you go to new places. I’m only more confident now I have a 3rd and even now don’t dare try playgroups!!!”

Kim said “‘What’s Inside The Box’ Story Time Sessions with Routine Riots. Teas and coffees for mums and dad’s whilst we explore a story, sing, dance and play. Themed each session. Every two weeks and next one is Thursday 3rd May from 1-2pm at Viables Community Centre. £4 and you’ll need to contact the Centre to book”

Yvette said “I went to caterpillar music this morning and usually I find new places and groups daunting. Being a structured class eased my uncomfortable side! Little ones 5 months and thoroughly enjoyed it!!!”

Kelly-Lauren said “Jiggy Wrigglers is a great class for all your children’s ages and is priced per family and not per child. All children love the music, dancing, props and bubbles! There is also social time with toys at the end where you can relax and have free tea/coffees and biscuits whilst your little ones play.”

  • Emma asked “Where is this one please? I have a baby and need to find classes to go to. All the ones I used to do with my first had stopped coz of the children’s centres cutbacks
  • Kelly-Lauren replied “Hi Emma, we are currently at Hook Home and Garden Centre on Tuesday 10-10.30 and 10.45-11.15 (no refreshments here or social time but there is a free play area you can use afterwards inside) which is £3 per child, Thursdays Melrose Hall in Popley 10-11am and Fridays Crookham WI Hall 10-11am. It’s such a shame about the cut backs as a lot of people are missing out on vital connections and support!”

Kath said” Zoe runs zingtastic and mumbaba. Zoe would definitely make you feel welcome and introduce you to other mums”

  • Hayley replied “Another recommendation for Zoe. I’ve been to her groups with both of my children and she will absolutely make you feel welcome”
  • Lisa said “I second that, Zoe is lovely and we have been going to Mumbaba for 3 years now.”
  • Julia said “Zoe is awesome and so welcoming – as a first time mum I went along to Mumbaba having had no mummy friends. My little girl and I were given such a warm welcome and made wonderful new friends”

Lizzie said “I run forest school sessions in Bramley and in morgaston woods at The Vyne. We have a few parents who bring 2 children along as the child led nature of forest School means children of all ages can join in. The parents are all lovely and welcoming and it’s a great place to make new friends as people attend every week. Facebook.com/muddypuddleclub

Sarah said “I run Hartbeeps multi-sensory classes suitable for both ages and siblings. It is a structured class with lots of fun. Classes in Hook are on a Tuesday morning and I have a special offer of 3 introductory classes for £12.00 on at the moment. sarahjp@hartbeeps.com https://www.facebook.com/hartbeepsfarnham/

Hayley said “Little angels in hatch warren on a Thursday morning is good for mixed ages too. My 4 year old and 19 month old go every week. It’s very relaxed and a nice bunch”

Louise NHM said “I was thinking, maybe we need a “code word” for Mum’s who are a bit shy or nervous, so that when they turn up, the organisers know to make them feel very welcomed and introduce them to others. Would that be a good idea?”

  • Rachael said “I think it’s a great idea just a shame it needs to be done, why can’t people just be more welcoming and introduce themselves when they see a new face walk in the door”
  • Jade said “This has never changed. I first had my first child 7 years ago and I was always the one sat on my own at baby group. 7 years later I take my 8month old little girl to one for her sake. Not mine. I don’t feel welcome no one wants to chat they’ve all got their friends I just go purely to get out the house now and no longer worry about having any ‘mummy friends’”
  • Rebecca said “I know exactly how you feel. This is why I prefer structured classes rather than playgroups.”
  • Mary said “I actually think the organiser needs to be more obvious so you know to introduce yourself to. Also most people who are talking in groups will let someone into the group.
  • The other thing to do is get there early and help to set up or put stuff away, that’s another way to get chatting. I don’t think I’m overly confident but i won’t sit on my own either.”
  • Helena said “Our village playgroup had a designated ‘welcomer’ who would instantly spot a new face, explain the set up and introduce them to the adults who she knew would be friendly and chatty Because let’s face it, not everyone is! It worked really well and no one was ever sat alone.
  • Sasha said “Louise NHM that’s a really good idea, make it easier for people”

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