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Places to go with babies and small children

So, you've managed to get your little ones in to some sort of routine and you're lucky enough to be able to spend time at home with them, but the walls are beginning to close in. You've got to get out and socialise (all of you), but what is there to do in Leamington?

The Salvation Army Parents and Toddlers Group Monday and Thursday 9.30am to 11.30am. On the corner of Chapel and Church Streets. Ring the bell for admission. £1 for the first child and for subsequent children when they reach 9 months. This includes hot drinks for one adult and juice and toast for children. Additional adults are asked to make a 20p contribution for their drink. They have a couple of baby bouncers, baby gyms and high chairs. It's a free play session with an activity after toast (puzzles, threading, etc).

The Salvation Army Baby Song Tuesday or Friday 10.30am to noon. £20 per 10 week course per family. This price includes lunch! The session starts with 45 minutes of singing and movement and is followed by 45 minutes of free play and lunch. Places on the Baby Song courses are very popular and need to be booked well in advance as there is sometimes a waiting list. Contact  01926 883309/423071.

The Mission Tiddlers and Toddlers Wednesday 10am to noon, George Street. Go in through the gate and side entrance. £1 for the first child and 25p for the next. This includes hot drinks for adults and biscuits and juice for the children. This is a free play session which sometimes includes an activity after refreshments and finishes with singing. There are lots of baby toys, bouncers and a couple of highchairs.

The NCT Toddler Group Thursday 9.30 to 11.30am, also at The Mission in George Street.  The cost is £2.50 per family, which includes hot drinks and snacks. It's a free play session with a separate room for weaners and crawlers, followed by singing.

Bath Place Community Venture Stay and Play 0-5 years Wednesday and Friday 10am to 11.45am and Thursday 1.30pm to 3pm. 50p per family which includes juice and a snack for children. Tea or coffee are 15p. This is a free play session followed by a messy activity (they have sleeved aprons!). They have a small padded enclosure for babies and lots of baby toys.

Bounce and Rhyme is a singing session run by Warwickshire Libraries at various locations. In Leamington it's held at 10.30am at the Pump Rooms, usually on the first Friday of the month. There's no charge. This is suitable for very young babies and up to 18 months or so and they usually have a member of staff who can bounce one of your babies for you! Check with your local library to see what dates they run their sessions.

Play on the Rock St Peter's Toddler Group: Fridays 9.30 to 11.30, £1 per child, Domer Place, CV32 5AA.

Tiny Stars Wednesdays 1.30 to 3pm, £1.20 per session, Leamington Spa Baptist Church, Chandos Street, CV32 4RN.

Tiddlywinks Parents and Toddlers Tuesdays 9.45 11.30am, St Paul's Church Hall, Leicester Street, CV32 4TE.

St Mark's Parents and Toddlers, Fridays 9.15 to 10.45am, St Marks Church Hall, Rugby Road CV32 6DN, 60p per session.

Childrens/Parents Centre Stay and Play Sessions Held at the Centers in Lillington, Sydenham and Old Town.

I've found all the baby and toddler sessions very friendly and informal. Just show up at a time that suits you. You don't need to be pre-registered or anything like that. However, if you're looking for something else how about the soft play centres?

The Fun House at the Porridge Pot (just off the Longbridge roundabout on the way into Warwick) is open 7 days Noon until 8pm.  They have a parent and toddler session from 9.30am until noon Monday to Friday during term time. It's £2.50 per child for an hour or for the toddler session. This play area is for children under 4ft 9ins and there is a dedicated baby and toddler section.

The Wacky Wood, 5 Berrington Road, Sydenham Industrial Estate, CV31 1NB. Open 10am to 6.30pm daily.  Under 12 months £2 or free with a sibling; 1-3 year olds £3.30 and 4-12 year olds £4.50, Twins Club members get a discount on these prices.  This is a large play space with areas suitable for different ages.

What if it's a nice day though? Check out the play areas in Mill Gardens (Jephson Gardens but South of the river) and Victoria Park. Both have fenced off areas which mean that you can relax a little more whilst your little ones run around. There are a couple of great play areas for toddlers on Newbold Common. The area outside the pub has two baby swings, but these are not enclosed.


Alison Chantrey