We started our Fox Cubs group in 2021 with ‘pandemic parents’ in mind – those who had a baby at a time when they were unable to meet many other new parents or try out many activities.
Unlike our toddler group, this session is more for you than your child, with plenty of time to meet, connect and share with other parents.
We start in the log circle (or the shed if it’s really rainy or cold), do introductions and share joys and challenges from the past week.
Then you enjoy the garden with your baby. There is soil, water, mud and leaves along with containers and tools to explore them with. The children get a sensory experience and you get a chance to chat with other parents.
With the older children, we have two rules: no pick and no lick. As you know, those are some of a baby’s top interests! So we find that most babies are mainly engaged with trying to eat as much mud as possible.
Obviously, you take part at your own risk and let your baby do whatever you are comfortable with, but you might be interested to know that there is a lot of research pointing to the link between playing in mud and leaf litter and improved gut health and immunity.
At the end of the session we have a story and you wrestle your little ones into clean clothes.
What age is Fox Cubs aimed at?
People with babies under 12 months. Generally it works best with babies who are just sitting (unaided or held/propped up), perhaps starting to crawl. Then you get the benefit of being able to sit and chat. Once your child becomes more mobile, particularly if they are walking, you might want to try the toddler session as there will be more for them to explore.
What if I'm nervous about getting dirty?
These sessions can be a great introduction to outdoor play for you and your baby. We have had lots of parents who said coming along built up their confidence to let their child explore. One baby went from staying in their parent’s arms to tummy time in a puddle over a series of weeks!
What if my baby is asleep?
That’s fine! As we said above, the session is mostly for you. Grab a drink from the cafe and enjoy the chance to drink it while it’s still hot, in beautiful surroundings, with friendly people.
If you really want your baby to join in, and they usually nap at the time of the session, try and join us in a future term when they may be in a different rhythm.
What if my baby is crying?
Please don’t worry about it! Everyone at the session knows what it’s like and it’s a judgement-free zone. Feel free to feed, change, do whatever you need to do. Some babies protest at the mud or water initially but like it the next week or a few weeks later. Or prefer mud over water then change their mind. Or just have one of those days, as we all do! If they really aren’t feeling it, just walking round the beautiful garden having a cuddle can be nice. And the session leader is always there with an extra pair of hands if you need.
What should we wear?
Not your fanciest outfits! You and your baby should be ready to get dirty. We don’t run Fox Cubs in the very coldest months, but it’s a good idea to have layers to add/remove whatever the weather. Don’t worry about footwear as it’s nice for them to have their toes out to wriggle in the mud. In the summer we had babies splashing in water in just their nappies. We set up the activities under shady trees when it’s hot, but you could bring a hat too.
As they get bigger you might want to get a puddle suit or waterproof trousers/dungarees. Bear in mind that these will only keep the worst off so your child can carry on playing rather than keep them pristine and dry! And ALWAYS have a full change of clothes in the bag for the end of the session.
Fox Cubs is currently on Thursdays at Grow Mayow in London. Click to book your place.