Baby and Toddler Classes in Queens: Movement, Art, and More Options
If you're searching for engaging baby and toddler classes in Queens, the diverse and ever-changing NYC borough offers plenty of parent-and-me options for the littlest ones, including music, art, movement, sports, and even science.
We've rounded up 13 of the most popular and unique baby and toddler classes in Queens, including an outdoor nature program and an infant movement session. If you call Queens home, check out these classes to find one that works for you (or your caretaker) and your child. Don't forget to check out our round-up of drop-in play spaces in this family-friendly borough.
Baby and Toddler Classes for Nature Lovers
Alley Pond Environmental Center — Douglaston
Just Hatched!, 12-17 months
Wee Sprouts, 18-23 months
Toddler Time, 2-3 years
Queens has some beautiful green spaces, which young children experience at Alley Pond Park. Just Hatched! accommodates the youngest kiddos, while Wee Sprouts and Toddler Time classes are big fun for little kids who love exploring and animals. Parents and children engage in nature-related activities, including nature walks, where they discuss plants and flowers. The overarching message: Nature isn't far away; it's in your backyard. Kids can interact with the small animals on hand, too. "We tie animals into the nature lessons," explains Bonnie Bromberg, an early childhood educator at the center. "For example, children will discuss how a rabbit's fur is soft and furry, and so is a pussy willow."
Queens Zoo — Corona
Stroller Safari, 0-5 years
Toddler Time, 2-3 years
Toddler Time and Stroller Safari classes at the Queens Zoo foster an early connection between young children and nature by letting children interact with the resident animals at their own pace. Activities include animal-themed crafts, movement exercises, storytelling, sensory tables, and feeding barn animals. It's all designed to help kids "develop empathy toward wildlife," says Karen Tingley, Wildlife Conservation Society interim director of education. "We also see our youngsters develop confidence in petting and feeding animals," she adds. "Some are nervous to do so at the start of the program series and are eager to interact at the end."
Baby and Toddler Classes for Little Music Lovers
Belle Arti Center for the Arts — Forest Hills
Early Bird Rock, 6 months-3 years
Musical Aurora, 2-5 years
In Early Bird Rock, a mixed-age group of babies and toddlers listen, dance, and sing as the instructor plays nursery rhymes on the guitar, piano, or a surprise instrument. Kids are encouraged to rattle shakers, bang drums, ring bells, and even toss handkerchiefs around. It's a great introduction to music as the class explores a variety of genres from around the world. Numbers and letters are taught, and sometimes the class ends with parachute fun. Ready for a little more structure? Starting at age 2, kids can join a Musical Aurora class created by musician and educator Claudette Munne. The hands-on class lets kids learn "music fundamentals through games and play," says Munne. After exploring instruments as varied as the guitar, violin, cello, drums, and xylophone, the class concludes with a recital.
NY Kids Club — Long Island City
Musical Tots, 3 months-3 years
There's no shortage of classes at NY Kids Club's many locations, but the Musical Tots class is a standout. It's hands-on, and all the music is written specifically by and for NY Kids Club musicians. Kids bop around to everything from rock n' roll to jazz. Percussion instruments are brought in and discussed in class, and kids have an opportunity to touch and play them. Cultural themes are often incorporated into the children's lessons, and the sessions are geared toward enhancing language development and musical appreciation.
Grab some boats and straws, then play with water and make bubbles at Let's Play Playhouse.
Drop-In Baby and Toddler Classes
Let's Play Playhouse — Astoria
Little Scientists, 1-2 years
Little Miss & Mr. Independent, 2-3 years
Not sure you can commit to a weekly class? Try the flexible "Learning Through Play" series at Let's Play Playhouse. You can pay per semester, buy a flex-10 pack, or just drop-in (although we recommend calling ahead to ensure space is available). The first class is treated as a free trial. Sibling discounts are offered. Learning Through Play classes combine music, art, and story time. There's always a hands-on craft portion, and each month focuses on a fun new theme.
RELATED: Drop-in Story Hours Around Queens
Paint, craft, and learn about healthy eating at Sky Village NYC.
Sky Village NYC — Long Island City
Art Classes, 9 months-4 years
Allergic to Salad Cooking Classes, 18 months-4 years
This arts-oriented children's play space offers open-play art sessions daily, plus a Dramatic Storytime, where words come to life through vocalization, energy, and tone. But on top of the painting, reading, and crafting, there are also cooking classes aimed at teaching little ones about healthy eating and basic kitchen skills.
Industry Gymnastics employs professional gymnasts to lead its mommy and me classes.
Baby and Toddler Classes for Movers and Shakers
Industry Gymnastics — Long Island City
Baby Bobcats, 3 months-15 months
Cubs, 16 months-4.5 years
Trained and licensed professional gymnasts lead the mommy and me classes at Industry Gymnastics, but this isn't just gym class. Instructors incorporate early-learning skills into this intro to gymnastics. Kids sing songs about their bodies (such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes") and learn how to do forward and backward rolls, jump on a trampoline, and tackle other physical challenges. They'll count their bounces, sing the "ABCs" as they walk across a beam, and more. The 30-minute Bobcats class for babies 3-15 months encourages very young children to be active self-learners and builds self-awareness. Once children complete Bobcats, they can move on to various Cubs classes, which are divided into separate age groups: 16-20 months, 21-24 months, 2 years, 3 years, and 4-4.5 years.
Meet new friends and spend time with your little one at the Developmental Movement class at Raising Astoria.
Raising Astoria — Astoria
Developmental Movement for Infants, 3 months-9 months
This class uses song and dance to help babies with coordination, physical development, and socialization. Starting at 3 months of age, it includes tummy time and safe exercises for baby to ease the transition to successful crawling and walking. Caretakers do gentle stretching, too, as part of the program. There is also a 15-minute parenting Q&A at the end of each class.
The Yoga Room — Astoria and Long Island City
Mommy and Baby, 8 weeks to almost walking
Mommy and Toddler, New walkers to age 3
There's a real sense of community at The Yoga Room, but if you enroll in either Mommy and Baby or Mommy and Toddler class, expect it to be as unpredictable as babies themselves. It's an open and safe space to talk with the instructor about your child's digestion, sleeping habits, ways to safely massage baby, and more. The class evolves from there; when babies are settled, moms get a whole vinyasa class to themselves. Other times, it's go with the flow. According to staffer and yoga teacher Jennifer Batson, "Even getting in a 5-minute session is an amazing stress reducer for the moms and dads." In both classes, movements you can do at home with your child are discussed and parents and caretakers learn poses with their baby. "Moms will sing 'I'm a Little Teacup' while in warrior II pose," Batson says. "It's community-building, and many times lifelong friendships between the moms are formed." In toddler class, increased emphasis is placed on the child's socialization skills and body awareness.
Learn to kick and burn off a little energy at Soccer Friends USA.
Baby and Toddler Classes for Little Athletes
Soccer Friends USA — Forest Hills
18 months-4 years
Soccer Friends USA has a toddler program designed to allow parents and kids an opportunity to engage in a physically active and educationally structured activity together once a week. Through fun soccer-themed games and activities, kids also improve motor skills, balance, and coordination. "The young participants also learn to dribble the soccer ball with their feet, and by the end of a 10-week session will be able to do this independently," owner Sean Peckett says. Dancing and gymnastics are also incorporated into the lessons, but parents take note: Your participation is expected at every class. Soccer Friends USA mascots (stuffed animals Isa the Giraffe, Eli the Elephant, and Buster the Lion) join in the fun and cheer on the kids.
Soccer Kids NYC — Middle Village
If you're looking for other soccer options for toddlers, Soccer Kids NYC is a great program that teaches more than just the fundamentals of the game. Kids learn sharing and teamwork, among other essential skills. There are many locations to choose from, with classes taking place in Bayside, Elmhurst, Howard Beach, Jamaica, Kew Gardens, and several other sites across Queens.
Baby and Toddler Classes for Water Babies
Take Me to the Water— Forest Hills
Baby and Me, 6 months to 2.5 years
Around since the 1980s, this well-regarded swim school offers private, semi-private, and group classes in locations throughout NYC. Comfort in and around water is built into every lesson, and there's an ever-present focus on safety and confidence. Babies as young as 6 months old get to blow bubbles and splash with their grown-up by their side in this Baby and Me class. Once they've mastered the basics, sign them up for group lessons.
At a Thinkertots "Start Me Smart" class, kids engage in early learning like ABCs and gross motor skills.
Baby and Toddler Classes for The "Pre"-Preschool Set
Thinkertots — Bayside, New Hyde Park
Baby Smart, 6 months-12 months
Start Me Smart, 10 months-23 months
Super Smart, 24 months-36 months
At Thinkertots, infants and toddlers in its mommy-and-me classes are exposed to activities that enhance their motor skills; engage in exercises to learn ABCs, numbers, commands, and more. Older tots use Legos to learn shapes, textures, and colors, sing popular, kiddie songs, and engage in story time and arts and crafts. Parents or caretakers and their babies learn one new sign language word every week, and infant massage strokes are taught in the Baby Smart class.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the venues.
This post, first published in April 2016, has been updated.