Review for Baby Play Time at Books and Cookies (Santa Monica)
During the first several weeks of first-time parenting, I was more or less home-bound. My parents stayed for a few weeks to help, but once they left, and it was just the baby and me waiting for Daddy to come home from work or the occasional visitor to see the baby. I took daily stroller walks to retain my sanity, but what I really needed was social interaction and so did my baby. I learned about Books and Cookies through a mommy meetup group I joined when my daughter was around two months old. It was my introduction to the world of indoor play spaces and a new social circle of parents I never knew existed.
Boy is this place adorable! As soon as you enter, you see the bookstore/reading area. I loved seeing my favorite book from third grade on the shelf, Ramona the Pest (Ramona Quimby). The next section is the café and store. The coffee is good, and so are the mac and cheese bites. Everything smells wonderful and there are smiling faces to greet you and help you with whatever you need. Then there is the activities center, where the all the activities are held.
I take my child to Baby Play Time. An instructor leads the first 20 minutes of the 50 minute time block. Everyone sits in a circle on the rug with toys in the middle, and it starts off with everyone to introducing themselves and their baby. Then, there is singing, playing, and stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if instructors had to audition to work there. Every instructor I’ve had has a fantastic singing voice. Because we are in L.A., I’m sure several of them are actor/singers. The songs are to tunes we all know, so they are easy to remember. I sing them to my daughter all the time and she loves them, especially the “Charlie Chaplin” song. The remaining 30 minutes is “free play.” More toys are brought out (including a tunnel, which all kids seem to love), and the parents chat while watching their children play in the brightly decorated room. Most parents opt for the prepaid visit package (Buy 8, get 1 free – expires 1 year from the date of purchase), so I usually see some “regulars,” which makes for good social interaction. It’s also fun to see everyone’s kids grow. It’s a great outlet to ask and learn about how other parents how they deal with the same things you are dealing with. I’ve discussed everything from my fears about flying cross-country with baby to baby’s acid reflux problems. Recently, I learned about a parent’s bad experience with not gradually introducing cow’s milk.
Books and Cookies helped me keep my sanity, and I look forward to experiencing the rest of the activities it has to offer.