New website Babyclasses.ie lets parents search and book hundreds of local (and online) baby classes
A glimmer of hope for new parents and parents-to-be.
The past 13 months have been crazy for everyone, and it has been especially trying and isolating for new parents who have missed out on ante-natal classes and bonding with other expectant parents.
After welcoming her son, Senan, in September last year, Gillian Keneghan realised how difficult and frustrating it was to find classes for new mums and babies in her area, often having to look up a variety of Facebook groups, ask around, check with the council, or look at supermarket noticeboards. After asking around, she realised friends and relatives around the country were often experiencing the same struggles.
There has got to be a better way, Keneghan thought to herself, and with that, the idea for Babyclasses.ie was born.
What would be amazing, she figured, was that by taking the hassle out of searching for baby classes with one single, nationwide platform, this would not only help parents connect with other parents through attending baby classes, but would also offer new mums the opportunity to redefine their maternity leave and build lasting friendships with fellow 'pandemic parents'.
Babyclasses.ie, which launched this week, is Ireland's only baby classes directory. It will list all the baby classes (both pre and postnatal) on one platform, enabling time-strapped parents to discover new classes in their local area, providing all the relevant class information, and facilitating the secure booking of classes in just a few clicks!
As well as being a resource for new- and expecting parents, Gillian wants the platform to also support the class teachers and providers, and help all these small businesses thrive after the pandemic.
"I want to reassure any ante-natal, post-natal, or baby class providers that this platform can offer that support by letting parents discover and book onto the amazing classes they offer, hassle-free either online or in person."
We sat down for a chat with Gillian ahead of the Babyclasses.ie launch, to hear a little bit more about the platform and how it all came about.
Background – the driver to setting up babyclasses.ie
I studied Law at UCD, worked in the UK as a Project Manager for several years and packed it all in to become a teacher! When Senan was 10 weeks old we moved back to Ireland from London. I was lonely and the long days seemed like an endurance test; I didn’t know anyone in the commuter town we moved to; my husband was gone long hours; and our families were over an hour away.
I knew I needed to get out and meet other new mums, add a routine to my weeks and basically break up the monotony of my days. I started looking for local baby classes that Senan and I could go to... but time after time my search results came up with nothing. Frustrated and feeling more isolated than ever, I spoke with friends and family and discovered they had had similar experiences of struggling to find local baby classes.
What is babyclasses.ie, and why is it relevant
I recognised there was a massive gap in the market and also appreciated the large market in the gap. After discussing the apparent communication void and invisible barrier preventing new and expecting parents from discovering Ireland’s class providers, I set about creating a platform to overcome this. Launching on the 12th of April www.babyclasses.ie is Ireland's only dedicated platform where parents can go to easily search and book local (and online) baby classes for them and their little ones. Parents can search by location, classes for mum or for baby, by baby’s developmental age range or by class type (e.g., antenatal classes, yoga, or baby swimming lessons).
What is the value of Babyclasses.ie for parents and class providers?
Babyclasses.ie has the scope to become a lifeline for isolated parents. Given the difficult year new parents have had, how cut off and isolated they have felt – babyclasses.ie is a free to use resource that can evoke a sense of community and connect new parents all over Ireland. It can spread hope that there is a light at the end of this awfully long and lonely tunnel!
For the small businesses - the amazing class providers who have been struggling to stay afloat all year, the Platform is here to support them to not only survive... but to thrive! By featuring on the platform for the flat fee of €7.50 a month, their advertising and bookings are managed, and payments are securely processed. Class providers have a unique opportunity to showcase themselves, their experience, their passion, and their classes in front of an eager audience of potential customers.
Additionally, if there are any teachers who cannot take their classes online now because they don’t have the facilities to process the payments - they can get back to doing what they do best – delivering engaging classes and let babyclasses.ie take care of the rest!
What is the goal?
I want the Platform to be that much needed bridge linking new and soon-to-be parents with the best baby class providers in Ireland. I don't want parents to have to struggle in isolation as I did, I want them to know that there is a growing community of support at their fingertips.
The platform launched April 12th, and there has been an outpouring of support from parents and class providers alike. The number of class providers and the variety of classes on offer is growing daily. Within the first 24 hours of granting login access to class providers, teachers from all four provinces of Ireland had signed up, and we are set to have representation from all 26 counties by the 12th of April.
The classes on offer are hugely varied and range from baby massage to fitness for mums, baby music and rhythm sessions to pregnancy yoga. The beauty of the platform is that parents get unrivalled and hassle-free access to the best classes while the class providers can grow their businesses and expand their offerings.