When I became a new mum a few months back, I was pretty sure that not much baby-friendly action would be going on in Walthamstow. But I was so wrong – you can fill every day of the week with an activity without having to leave E17!
Centres and classes
I began with checking out the Children Centres, who hold sessions ranging from coffee mornings to baby massage, and importantly, they enabled me to meet other local parents. One of my favourite classes is the Baby Rhyme Time held at the Woodside Children’s Centre, run by a fabulous and passionate speech and language therapist called Aislinn. Also worth noting are the numerous breast feeding support groups around Walthamstow (held at the Centres and other locations) – these drop in sessions are invaluable and are a great place to get help and advice.
Outside of the Centres, I found a variety of other activities, including a fantastic Baby Sensory class, which encompasses baby signing, puppet shows, singing, music playing and light shows. The music class Bongalong is also worth mentioning, along with the ‘Seams Significant’ sewing class held at the Woodside Childrens Centre. I’ve also been to the baby sensory room at The Tumble in the Jungle on Wood St – this has a big bubble lamp, soft lighting and toys.
For more physical activity, I can recommend the ‘Tots Water World’ drop in class at the Pool and Track, where you can sing rhymes with all the splashing actions. Baby Yoga, which is run by Sam Syer at The Toy Library in the Village is an excellent class and gives you a chance to chill out (if your little one will let you!).
Cafes and pubs
All this activity is thirsty work and there are numerous baby-friendly cafes dotted around Walthamstow including: Daisys (on Hoe St) and The Windmill (both with baby changing); Costa Coffee and the BHS cafe in the Mall is very spacious for buggies (baby changing can be found in the Mall toilet facilities). Eat 17 (in the Village) is fantastic for catering for babies – they have baby changing and are very accommodating.
In terms of pubs, The Village have a ‘family room’ and The Castle (which does excellent food) has more little people than adults at the weekend (note: both of these pubs do not have baby changing). The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) have monthly morning meet ups for local parents in the Rose and Crown Pub; the NCT also hold quarterly ‘Nearly New Sales’ in the Village, where you can bag yourself some good quality second hand baby bargains!
Other recommendations which are slightly out of Walthamstow, but are well worth a visit are: Creative Biscuit in South Woodford, where you can immortalise your little one’s foot/hand prints on numerous ceramics in a cafe environment; The Ferry Boat Inn in Tottenham – good food and beer garden; the Parent and Baby Cinema at the Rio in Dalston; and the Springfield Park Cafe in Stoke Newington.
Liz Burtally tweets at @LittleLizBear