Sunderland children’s centres service is a great resource – Katie Bulmer-Cooke

Children's centres are a great resource. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images
Children's centres are a great resource. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

As my baby boy approaches three-months-old, I find myself frequently repeating that parental cliche, ‘where has the time gone?’.

It’s incredible how much they change so quickly, and now he is taking notice of the world and the things around him I’ve started to look for baby groups and activities to take him to, where he can play and I can sit with other mams and swap notes on baby wind, nappy rash and who has the biggest dark circles under their eyes!

A quick search on Google reveals a whole range of activities for babies and toddlers in our area.

This is clearly a booming market and there is so much to choose from ... from baby massage and yoga to nursery rhyme sessions and even fitness classes that mams can taken their little ones along to … so a big high five to all of the local businesses offering these fantastic services.

We are really lucky in Sunderland that, not only do we have so much choice and opportunity, we also have our local children’s centres that offer free sessions for pre-school children right across the city.

I attended these sessions with my little girl when she was a baby and loved them.

I wasn’t the most confident mam the first time around, and these sessions really helped me because the people that ran them were so helpful and friendly.

Fast forward eight years and nothing much has changed. The Time For Rhyme session at Thorney Close is as busy and friendly as it ever was, and Humpty Dumpty is still number one in the nursery rhyme charts, but this time the staff member leading the session even plays the guitar to accompany the songs!

Not only do the children’s centres offer structured sessions, there are also opportunities to use the sensory room and drop into sessions led by health visitors where you can ask them about any questions or concerns you have and have your baby weighed.

Bearing in mind that maternity pay can leave many parents a little strapped for cash, being able to attend these sessions is so helpful and I personally think that we are very lucky to have such a great service running across Sunderland, and I’d encourage everyone with babies and toddlers to give it a try.

Everyone I’ve met there, from staff to other parents, grandparents and carers have always been very friendly, and just getting out and going to a group or session is a great way to meet new people and give little ones a chance to interact with new people and experiences.

I’m not an expert by any means when it comes to child development or the like, but I do know that attending the centres when I was a first time mam did wonders for my confidence, and my little girl definitely got a lot out of them, so I’m really looking forward to having the same experience with my son.