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Library love

If you like free books, free toys, free classes, and free friends, the library is where it's at.

I was already a fan of our local library ever since I learned about Libby...And when my husband realized they had Blu-rays. But when Charlotte was born, it opened a whole new door of possibilities.

This post is focused on the Fremont Public Library, but the principles translate to many libraries.

Jump to the library schedule

Books and toys

Of course the library has free books. But many people don't think to check out baby books. It kept my book rotation fresh with lots of finger puppet and lift-a-flap options.

It has TOYS. Not only is it packed with toys to play with in the library, you can actually check out activity kits (quite a few activity kits, I think our library has a limit of 7 at one time) for 3 weeks at a time. Some of our favorites included Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog, Bears in Pairs, and the all-time favorite that we checked out a few times was a percussion set. The percussion set included various hand shakers and mini drums that really kicked off Charlotte's love for other musical toys.

It also has puzzles, Legos, TABLETS, and other cool stuff.

Free classes

I started taking Charlotte to Baby Bounce at around 6 months old. I would have started sooner, but the classes are Wednesdays at 9:30am or 10:30am and that usually conflicted with Charlotte's nap time.

I was unsure what to expect when I took her to the first class. I walked up to the youth services center and right away was greeted with a cheery smile, "Hi little one! Here for baby bounce? They'll open the doors in a few minutes." The staff member slid 2 'drop in tickets' under the plexiglass to me and we wandered over to the play area while we waited.

The play area is awesome. There's a kitchen with lots of play food, 2 Melissa and Doug shopping carts, and a short table for Legos on one side and trains on the other.

There were a few other quiet babies with their adult (mom or grandmother, but there have also a few babysitters, too, and once there was a dad!) waiting tentatively.

A minute later, the doors opened, and we were welcomed inside.

We walked into a large classroom space decorated with paper art about ocean life and handed the helper, Miss Judy, our tickets.

12 or so floor chairs were set up. We parked our stroller and found a seat.

"Hi everyone, I'm Miss Cathy and welcome to Baby Bounce. We'll be doing lots of singing, rhymes, and some bouncing. We'll also read a story and then we'll have some playtime. Then it will be time to clean up and say goodbye."

Miss Cathy uses Ducky, her puppet to demonstrate the songs we do with our babies. We sang a welcome song to welcome each child individually and Charlotte's look of surprise when everyone was singing her name to her really was heartwarming.

Just as Miss Cathy said, we sang a few more songs that involved bouncing, shakers, and other fun movements, we read a story, and then it was time for playtime.

Miss Cathy put out 2 little baskets of baby toys, turned on some gentle music and excused herself from the room while we plopped our little ones down in the front to play.

There were a handful of kids, with a range of ages and developmental stages, all under about 18 months old. Most of the babies were too small to interact much other than stare at each other while they explored a new toy or two. The moms mostly talked to their babies and the other babies; a bit shy themselves.

After about 10 minutes, Miss Cathy came back in to lead clean up and sing a goodbye song.

We all filed out and Charlotte's eyes grew wide when she saw a big wheel mounted on a bookcase right outside with beads inside. We spun it a few times and then went back to the play area where many of the kids from the class were still gathered. Everyone was much more warmed up to playing and had no second thoughts before diving into the train bin or snagging a shopping cart.

We weren't able to stay long, we had to dash home for a snack and nap, but it was clear Charlotte had a good time. She was pretty exhausted from all of the new stimulation and the nap hit her pretty hard.

For days afterwards, we sang the songs from class ourselves, especially at times when Charlotte was upset, and we looked forward to going back.

I actually did look forward to going to those classes a lot. If I had to miss one, or Charlotte slept through one, I was pretty bummed. I loved the way they were structured, the way Charlotte was so interested and engaged, and the exposure to other kids her age.

We've been going now for almost a year, and it is still one of our favorite things to look forward to during the week.

Last week, we were still at the library playing after class when the next class started. Charlotte went to the glass door and pressed her hands up against it, pointed, and gestured for more. She was pretty disappointed when I had to break the news that we weren't going in.

Mom friends

There is a group of about 5 kids with their adult that we see each week and have gotten to know. Now we have exchanged numbers and have met up for activities on off weeks. All of the moms that I have gotten to know are very welcoming and kind. We've been able to talk about issues with teething and sleeping, doctor appointments, upcoming travel concerns and more.

Toddler time

We are now big enough to also enjoy Toddler Time on Tuesdays, which is more interactive and has a larger class (with a lot more dads and grampas, too). It has been fun to be able to enter that new class with a lot of our friends from Baby Bounce.

Library schedule

  • Baby Bounce - Wednesdays

  • Toddler Time - Tuesdays

  • Time: 9:30-10:00am and 10:30am to 11:30am

  • Date: The first 3 weeks of the month and they take May off

  • Check the events page to for the latest library schedule

Final thoughts

Until Charlotte is uninterested or is too active for Baby Bounce, we plan to continue to go to both classes. Charlotte loves to play afterwards with a lot of the other kids and has really developed a lot of social skills. She's had to learn some hard lessons, too, like how to handle when she has the hot commodity that all the other kids are after, or waiting her turn, or how to react when she is inadvertently hit or knocked down. For 3 weeks of the month, it is a reliable 2.5-3 hours of free, indoor fun a week.

As I mentioned, a lot of libraries have similar resources and offerings. Wauconda Area Public Library and Vernon Area Public Library to name a few.

What I did not mention is that you DO NOT need a library card to go to these course offerings. So, if the library in your area does not have classes, you can go to another library. OR you can go to multiple libraries classes!

So, get yourself down to the library Youth Services Center and get yourself an event calendar!



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