Dads and Baby Groups
Often when talking about hands-on dads the conversation naturally finds its way to dads and baby groups. It’s a big topic and after speaking to a few people, there are some things we need to put out there. Hopefully this will help increase numbers and get more of a male presence at groups in the UK.
Do dads go to baby groups?
The short answer is yes they do go to baby groups. However, I don’t think the number reflects how many dads are being hands-on. I’m sure if you compared dads who take their kids to an after school club with the number of hands on dads you’d get a much better correlation. Someone should conduct a survey, I couldn’t find anything online. What we need to do is look at why some dads aren’t making it to their local baby groups (if there are any. Check here to see if there is one near you.). Once we know the reasons, then we can take steps towards making groups more accessible to fathers.
Reasons Dads Don’t Go
It’s not easy going to a baby group for the first time. Like anything new we all have our apprehensions. Below are some of the reasons and… erm… excuses (just being honest lads) that dads give for not attending baby groups. For each reason I will make suggestions for overcoming the problem. But please do add your own thoughts, feelings, experiences and advice in the comments below. I’ll even add some of the more pertinent comments in this section to make sure they are seen.
- One reason is timing. There are only 7 days in a week and unless you are a stay at home dad, often you can be working for most of these. Baby groups are often during work hours so there are less opportunities for working dads to attend. Suggestions: This may be very true in certain areas but more and more groups are popping up all the time. Also there are lots of different styles of group now. Looking for sensory groups, musical groups, play gym or baby gym, baby execise, baby yoga may turn up more options.
- Another reason is location. Even if there is a baby group at a time that’s convenient the location might not be. Suggestions: This is experienced by anyone trying to get to baby groups. Sometimes making a little extra effort to get to a group even if it’s only once a month is worth it. You may learn a technique or have a moment that changes interaction with your baby for the better.
- A reason I hear a lot is that they feel uncomfortable being the only man, that they won’t have any male support. Suggestions: Firstly, if you are worried about this try going with mum on the first couple of occasions to settle you in. This can be your baby’s mother or your mum whichever makes you feel better!!!? 😉 Secondly, this was definitely the way it was years ago but things are changing. You might be surprised to find 1 or 2 dads already in attendance at your local group. With your help I’m going to set up a post to catalogue groups in the UK that regularly have more than 1 dad in attendance.
- A few men are concerned that women will question their reason for being there. Or that mums will think the reasons they are attending are inappropriate. Suggestions: This is a tough one and best answered by a female attending baby groups but unless someone has voiced this to a dad at a group I don’t think dads should be second guessing what people think your reasons are for attending a group. Mums this is a good point to highlight how beneficial making a dad feel welcome at a baby group could be on a larger scale.
- It’s not a manly thing to do, my mates would take the Mickey if I went. Suggestions: Even though this kind of peer pressure may come from your friends or even family you must try and rise above it even though it can be tough sometimes. Criticising a man for wanting to co-parent, wanting to bond with his child, and wanting to help their development is not something to be laughed at. The quicker some men realise this the better off our kids will be. Thankfully you hear fewer stories like this and the younger generations are changing for the better.
- I wouldn’t know what to do at a Baby Group. What’s a baby group? Suggestions: Baby groups become a lot less daunting once you’ve actually been to one or seen one. I actually host one called ‘The Baby Club‘. It’s aimed at parents that can’t make it to their local group or wouldn’t normally go to a group for whatever reason. We want to show people what they are about and encourage them to visit ones in their area. Maybe watch an episode on Cbeebies or on the BBC iPlayer.
Reasons Dads Should Go
There are many reasons dads should go to baby groups and I have outlined some of the main reasons in the ‘Why Go To Baby Clubs’ post. In the mean time if you would like to see how activities performed in ‘The Baby Club’ can help your baby, head on over to my Baby Club Diaries. You’ll be surprised how everyday play with your little one can help development. Finally if you would like to try out a Dad and Baby Group near you, Check out our definitive list of Dad Groups in the UK.
What have you encountered? Write your thoughts, experiences, and questions.
It’s important that we hear from those of you out there living it. Have you avoided baby groups as a dad? Do you regularly go to baby groups as a dad? Have you had a good/bad experience as a dad at baby groups?
Please leave your comments in the section below and share this post with other parents, the more the merrier. And remember, mums you are an integral part of this. We can’t improve things for dads and help make changes without you. So please, please, help if it’s just sharing a post or making a suggestion.
Look forward to hearing from you