You are here

What to Expect: The Benefits of Playgroups

Q. I stay home with my 5-month-old daughter. Are there benefits of playgroups for a child her age?

A. Most of the benefits of joining a playgroup now will be for you, not her. It's much too early in your daughter's social career to expect her to play in a group situation. And while she will almost certainly be entertained by other babies, she won't be capable of meaningful interaction until near the end of her first year. But for parents, joining a playgroup can bring many perks, including:

  • Adult conversation.
    Your daughter's coos may be the sweetest sounds, but if you're like most stay-at-home parents, chances are you crave a little adult dialogue. Meeting regularly with other parents will provide you with the opportunity to speak and be spoken to in full sentences.

  • Resources and referrals.
    Whether you're in the market for a new pediatrician or want to start your baby on a sippy cup, chances are someone in the playgroup will have advice or a recommendation.

  • Support from those who know.
    Meeting regularly with other first-time parents can remind you that you're not the only parent who has: a) a baby who won't sleep; b) no time for romance with your spouse; c) career frustrations; or d) a breeding farm for dust bunnies in your living room.

    There are some risks to joining a playgroup. For one, seeing babies your daughter's age every week could lead you to worry unnecessarily about how she's developing relative to other children. The range of what's normal is very wide when it comes to a baby's physical, verbal, and social development. Another potential risk is unwittingly putting social pressure on your daughter  -- playgroups should be fun, not stressful. If, as your daughter gets older, she wants to participate, that's great; if she doesn't, that's fine too.

    BabyTalk contributing editor Heidi Murkoff is the coauthor of the bestselling pregnancy book What to Expect When You're Expecting (Workman) and the author of the newest book in her What to Expect Kids series, What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist (HarperCollins).

  • comments