I often hear people complaining that there is nothing to do in Maidenhead, or that they have run out of ideas for what they can do at the weekend with the kids. Yet if you know where to look, there are actually lots of children and baby-friendly activities and groups. At the end of July my littlest celebrated his first birthday so in honour of his special day I thought I would let him take control of the blog and share his favourite baby activities in Maidenhead that he’s done over his first 12 months.
Introducing the Little Man
“Hi. I’m the youngest of the family but I’ve been very busy exploring Maidenhead over the last 12 months. I’ve made a list of 12 fun things to do before your first birthday…How many can you tick off?!”
12 things to do in Maidenhead before you’re 1:
1. Play on the book train in the library
You might think that libraries are quiet, studious places. But they’re also amongst the most colourful and imaginative places that you’ll find around town. Each has its own character and different things for children to do. Whether it’s a ‘book train’ to sit on, a house to peep through or giant lego bricks to build with, there’s always something to keep me busy – and that’s before I get started on the books. You can find out more about special events at the library here.
2. Explore Ray Mill Island (even if you sleep through it)
One of the most beautiful places in town is the weir on the Thames which you can see at Ray Mill Island, next to Boulter’s Lock. It’s a lovely walk in all seasons and it’s very exciting to hear the great big roar of the water as you approach. Or, you can always just sleep through it, the grown-ups won’t mind. And don’t forget there’s an ice cream shop in the middle of the island – not that your big sister will ever let Mummy and Daddy walk by without paying a visit!
3. Feed the ducks in Guard’s Park
Maidenhead is famous for its bridges and in Guard’s Park you can see three of them. As an added bonus you get to see the trains crossing Brunel’s railway bridge every few minutes. The ducks and geese are very friendly – don’t be scared! If you can’t make it to Guard’s Park then you can find more ducks by the road bridge, too. If Mummy is organised she will have remembered to bring a bag of bird feed from the ice cream shop!
4. Have a hair raising adventure in the park
When you’re not quite on two legs, the park can be a little frustrating as you watch the bigger kids run, jump and climb around. The best thing to do is watch the world go by from the comfort of your swing and style it out while you wait for your little legs to work. We’re lucky to have Boyn Grove Play Area (AKA Punt Hill Park) just over the road, but other favourites include Riverside Gardens, Ockwells Park and Oaken Grove.
5. Hit the beach
It’s a (minimum) two hour drive to the nearest beach from Maidenhead. Unless you can make up a convincing story about how you won’t eat sand when you get there, odds are your folks will want to wait until you’re a bit older. But there are still opportunities for me to feel the sand between my toes without even leaving town! In July, there’s a beach at the Maidenhead Festival and also outside the cafe at Norden Farm. And they’re both free!
6. Be a Festival Babe
Every year in July you’ll find a magical, colourful and ever so noisy world appear in the centre of town. It’s worth asking the grown-ups to take you to Maidenhead Festival in Kidwell’s Park. There’s so much to see… and if you’re good, the folks might let you come back next year too. You can read all about our adventures here.
7. Hang out in a ball pit
One day, when I’m very much older, I’ll probably be hanging out in a Mosh Pit watching a cool band play music that my parents don’t understand. In the mean time, I’ll make do with a ball pit at Soft Play. Our favourite Soft Play venues are ‘Cheeky Charlie’s’ at the Magnet Leisure Centre and ‘Andrea’s Cafe’ at Ockwell’s Park.
8. Go to a gig
So the Mosh Pit might be a way off, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t experience live music first hand. Going to a gig is no longer an exclusive activity for the grown-ups. Babies and children can go in the day or even at the weekend. My Mummy wrote a blog post all about the Concertini concerts which you can read here. As a extra bonus, you might even find yourself chatting to a nice new ‘friend’.
9. Search for bluebells in the woods
This one is pretty cool as it’s something the grown-ups will enjoy too, especially if they’re a photography nut like Mummy. We found these woods by The Golden Ball pub. Bluebells can be tricky to find, and only appear around May so keep your ears to the ground for tip-offs about where to find them. While your folks stroll around and admire nature, you might just like to take the opportunity to take a little nap in the peace and quiet of the woods.
10.Do some dressing up.
OK, so it’s hard to figure out whether this is mostly for Mummy’s enjoyment or mine, but as the saying goes, if the parents are happy, the children are happy. You just need to tolerate this one as best you can. There are lots of music and dance classes around Maidenhead but one of the brightest and funkiest is Hartbeeps. Not only will you get to watch all the grown-ups go a little bit bonkers, but you get to join in yourself and every week is different. The tunes are so catchy that you’ll find Mummy often sings them outside of the classes which is great for a bit of bonus singing, dancing and wriggling at home.
11. Stay…and Play.
Sometimes it can feel like the older kids have all the fun. But whether you’re a babe-in-arms, sitting, crawling or toddling, there are plenty of activities that are just right for you. In Maidenhead there’s a heady mix of Stay & Play sessions, Yoga Babes, Zumbini, Rhyme Time, Messy Mondays and Outdoor Play. You’ll find that there’s something to go to most days of the week. Our current favourite is the ‘Inbetweeners’ group on a tuesday at The Riverside Children’s Centre. This is just for children aged 1-2, although we discovered it when I was 10 months old and I’ve been having fun with kids my size ever since. There’s plenty of space to crawl and explore without the fear of bigger kids trampling on you. There’s even some food, although until I can learn to sit at a table on a chair this bit isn’t quite for me just yet. Mummy particularly likes the fact that it’s £1.50 a session and she can even have a cup of tea while I play!
12. Be a gym baby
When I hit 9 months, got mobile and suddenly found that all my toys are utterly boring then there was only one place to go. It was time to hit The Gym. Instead of just sitting in a ball pit while your siblings have fun, Phoenix Gym has a huge soft play space that you can crawl around and explore and feel like an independent baby. The trampoline was still out of bounds for me at this age, but in the mean time I could throw myself at anything I fancied, even if its twice my size! And best of all it’s in the warm and dry so great whatever the weather. It’s £4 per child and just 50p extra for non-walkers like me if you go with your Big Sister or Big Brother. Best to check the Phoenix Gym website for Play Gym sessions as sometimes things change in the school holidays.
So there you have it. 12 great ideas of things to keep you busy. But before I hand the blog back to mummy I thought I should mention a couple of things that you should try and avoid doing in Maidenhead…
Some things to avoid…
Forgetting about school holidays:
Getting stuck in the lift in Boots:
About this blog
I write this ‘Maidenhead Mum’ blog to share my experiences of life here in Berkshire and beyond. For up to date posts about life here in Maidenhead, you might like to follow my Maidenhead Mum page on Facebook. Or, if you subscribe using the box below you’ll get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox along with some behind the scenes photography tips on each email.