Parent and child classes can be some of the most wonderful bonding activities during those early years (and months)—plus it's a great excuse to get out of the house! These interactive classes help babies, toddlers, and preschoolers forge new relationships with others, sample a host of playthings, and test out new skills.
In New Jersey, as is the case elsewhere, the class choices seem to multiply every year: music, art, yoga, sports, ballet, world languages, nature, swimming. You are sure to find something that will interest both you and your child. And, don’t expect these sessions to be filled with just moms. Dad, the nanny, grandparents, and all types of caregivers can join in the fun. Some classes offer independent play for toddlers, or even options where both siblings can attend.
Read on for a sampling of the best baby classes around New Jersey offerings. Find even more options in our NJ Classes Guide and Directory of Listings.
Kids run to pick a shaker during a Preschool of Rock class.
The parent–child music class can be one of the first classes to enjoy with a newborn, and can grow with a child through early elementary school. While toddlers may not be recite “Every Good Boy Does Fine” from the get-go, early music classes will build developmental skills such as hand–eye coordination sharing, counting, and more. Some of the most well-known music programs on the NJ Mommy and Me scene introduce children to musical building blocks through singing, finger-play exercises, rhythm games, creative movement with props and simple instruments (think drums, rhythm sticks, bells, sandpaper blocks, and shakers). Depending on the course, parents may even receive take-home materials and/or downloadable music and videos to reinforce learning at home.
Music Play Studios — Weehawken, Jersey City, Hoboken, Edgewater
Music for Aardvarks — Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County
Preschool of Rock — Jersey City, Hoboken, West New York, Livingston, Madison, Montclair, Millburn
Calderone School of Music — East Hanover
Songs for Seeds — Summit
Tiny Conservatory - Long Valley Arts & Teen Center — Long Valley
Song Along Studios at the Piano Workshop at Chester—Chester
Music and More with Kelly LLC — Millburn, South Orange, Union, East Hanover, Springfield and more
Central and Southern NJ
Kids’ MusicRound — Bridgewater, Plainsboro, Pennington, Manalapan, Princeton, Bordentown, Robbinsville, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Springfield, Cherry Hill, Moorestown and more
Music Together — Berkeley Heights, Watchung, Bridgewater, and more
Tiny Voices Music Together — Aberdeen, Middletown, Freehold, Edison, Matawan, and more
Mason Gross School of the Arts — New Brunswick
FAITH Center for the Arts — Zarephath
Preschool of Rock — Metuchen, Scotch Plains, Westfield
The Little Rockers Band — Colts Neck, Holmdel, Manalapan, Red Bank, Wall, and more
The Little Gym
Props help make swim class fun during a Little Dolphin's Swim Academy parent-child session.
As early as six months old, many babies are ready to take to the water in the safety of your arms during a parent-and-me swim class. Not only will children learn to be comfortable in the water and get some practice following simple directions, but some classes also focus on critical self-survival skills in the water—yes, even before a child can walk, boys and girls can learn to roll from belly to back and float in the water. Looking for convenience? Some parent–child swim classes are held at fitness clubs.
SafeSplash Swim School — Clifton, Hasbrouck Heights, Paramus, Parsippany, Secaucus
NJSwim — Sparta, Florham Park, Landing
Starfish Aquatic Club — Randolph, Whippany, Morris Plains, and more
GoldFish Swim School — Wyckoff
Kristie's School of Fish — East Hanover
The Connection — Summit
Little Dolphins Swim Academy — Bound Brook
Five Star Swim School — Eatontown, Edison
NJSwim — Warren, Manasquan
Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC — Bridgewater
HealthQuest — Flemington
The Club at Woodbridge — Woodbridge
Into the Swim — Clinton, East Brunswick, Somerset, and more
Jersey Wahoos Swim Club — Mount Laurel
Cherry Hill Aquatics — Cherry Hill
GoldFish Swim School — Mount Laurel
• Jewish Community Centers (JCC)
Burn off energy with a Little Kicks Soccer class.
For your little sports enthusiast, soccer is a great option. While you aren’t likely to find organized teams for toddlers, parent-and-me classes starting as early as 18 months often organize boys and girls in a mixture of soccer-inspired listening games like playing red light, green light while dribbling the ball. Some programs incorporate fun activities like parachute play, hoops, bubbles and obstacle courses.
Total Dutch Soccer — Somerset
Branchburg Sports Complex — Branchburg
The Club at Woodbridge — Woodbridge
SportsPlex at Metuchen — Metuchen
LittleSPORT — Maple Shade
United Soccer Academy
The Little Gym
Little Kicks Soccer
There is one excellent reason to take a toddler to an art class: the mess is not in your house. Instructors come up with super creative projects (for instance, paint with chocolate at Chocolate Works in Montclair) and make keepsakes from your child’s early years. Some classes even cater to those with special needs; VSA New Jersey offers children and teens with autism and their parents hands-on workshops in the arts. Some schools offer courses, while others are drop-ins. Contact your local studio for more information.
Morris County Arts Workshop, The Hive — Chester
7 Fine Arts — Hoboken
Crafty Toddlers at Express Yourself Studios — Maplewood
Chocolate Works — Montclair
The Messy Artist — East Hanover
Art-4-All — Somerville
Creative Kids — Scotch Plains
Color Me Mine — Voorhees
Gymnastics classes are great venues for tumbling tots to have fun while improving coordination, balance, listening skills and gross motor skills. Depending on the program and facility, kids will enjoy tiptoeing across a low balance beam, bouncing on the trampoline, and rolling down the mat. A bonus for parents: a solid nap after classes like these is pretty much guaranteed.
JW Tumbles — Glen Rock, Hillsdale, and more
Next Step Broadway — Jersey City
Randolph Gymnastics — Randolph
Elite Gymnastics — Hawthorne
Prestige Gymnastics — Oakland
Flippin’ Out — Nutley
Kids U — Paramus
Diamond Gymnastics — East Hanover, Hoboken
JW Tumbles — Clinton
Evolution Training Center — Bridgewater
Twisters Gymnastics — Lakewood
Bright Stars Gymnastics Academy — Egg Harbor Township
Schafer Sports Center — Ewing Township
Jets Gymnastic — Mount Laurel
The Little Gym
Maybe you speak another language at home or maybe you just want to expose your child to a new language as early as possible. Language classes teach children through games, song, puppets, stories, and other fun activities. Some courses enroll children as young as six months old with a caregiver.
Northern and Central NJ
The Language Workshop for Children (Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and French) — Montclair, Madison and Ridgewood
Let’s Play in Italian — Totowa, Scotch Plains
The Public Library
If you are looking for a FREE or low-cost baby or toddler class, try the public library. Some libraries only offer storytime, but many others host special events, music classes, and more. Find a NJ library near you.
Top image: Little Dolphin's Swim Academy. All photos courtesy of their respective class.
This article first published in 2011 but has since been updated.