Seeking/Offering a Playgroup

BPN Subscribers: if you are seeking to join or start a playgroup, post to Parent Connections.

Parent Q&A

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  • Outdoor RIE group for 8 month old

    (5 replies)


    We are RIE parents (respectful infant educaring) and we did a RIE group for our now 4 1/2 year old. Because of covid it has been difficult to find RIE groups and especially outdoor groups for my 8 month old. I have done several searches but I have not been able to find ANY groups (much less groups outdoors). Does anyone have any recommendations or know of anything in the area? We would really like to avoid indoor groups if at all possible. We are in Oakland but I would be willing to travel a bit if there were a group that I could join. 

    Any recommendations would be great!

    We have a 13.5 month old and am very interested in joining whatever you find or start! 



    Hello! I don’t know of any, but recently started learning about REI through Janet Lansbury’s podcast and would be interested in doing a meet up with other parents exploring this style and also wanted to follow your thread in case anyone has any suggestions. Thanks!

    I would check in with Jen Lumanlan at My Parenting Mojo. She is a child development expert who is a big fan of the RIE approach. Her primary output is her podcast, but she lives locally and is very tapped into the local RIE community.

    I've heard of some classes, but not groups:

    This is the one I've heard that offers an online option:

    And these are the two that I know of in the area, but I believe both are indoors: and

    Not sure if that helps at all. I'd be interested in joining a group if you wanted to form one! Best of luck.

    I would also love something like this but my child is two. Two things I know of (also classes) are Natural Resources in SF which seems like it is indoors and this woman in Walnut Creek who might have something in the future

    Reply now »
  • Baby playgroup

    (15 replies)

    I cant seem to find a playgroup for babies under 1 yrs old.  I am newish to the area and with a new baby and not finding playgroups I feel hopeless to  make friends, and babyfriends.  Help Berkeley and surrounding area mama's !!?

    Hi There!

    I haven't had much luck with this either. I have a 6-month-old son and I have been in the area for a while, but am the first of my friends to have a baby. Maybe we should start one!


    There are 4 that I know of:  1. The Alta Bates New Parent Support Group for 0-6 months and 6-12 month olds. I loved going when my son was under one. Once they can sit and crawl, it basically ends up being like a playgroup. Parents get to talk, and the kids play. We still hangout with many of the parents/kids we met there. 2. Epworth Church in Berkeley has baby and toddler playgroups (we go to the toddler one now and love it). It takes place at the church, but it's not affiliated with the church, so it's not in any way religious. 3. Lotus Bloom playgroups in Oakland. It's for 0-48 months. I only went once  (it was too big and busy for me...I prefer a smaller setup so I can get to know the other parents over time and make friends), but may work better for you. 4. I've heard that the Rose School in Berkeley also has a playgroup. I've never been to it myself, though, so I can't elaborate beyond this. Good luck! 

    Mommy and Me Educational Playtime
    East Bay Moms Playgroup
    Tuesday, May 2, 2017
    10:30 AM

    Creekside Community Church
    951 MacArthur Boulevard
    San Leandro, CA 94577

     Have you tried I made some good friends through that. I have a two month old and would be happy to meet in Oakland.   

    Hi there! Check out Alameda moms 2016 Facebook group. We'd be happy to have you join! There are great get togethers.

    Best of luck!

    Both Epworth Church, at the top of Hopkins, and the Berkeley JCC (near the Cheeseboard), have baby groups. Neither require any faith based belief system, and they are both wonderful. Both programs have toddler groups to grow into later as well.

    Hi momma, I found the best success using There is also lamorinda mommies, but I have not joined that so can't speak to it events.


    I currently live in San Francisco but moving to north Berkeley in less than 3 weeks from now. I have a 10 months old baby girl and would love to meet Mamas & kids.

    Please feel free to contact me !


    Epworth has a play group for babies! Link below:

    I've had a similar experience myself, but have found a couple groups via Then Comes Baby in Oakland that I like. I would love to meet some more moms and babies in area though, especially for play days and maybe to help exchange babysitting for parent date nights.
    I have a soon to be 5 month old son and we live in Temescal, near Piedmont.
    Please contact me if your interested in meeting up. I return to work soon so week day meetups will likely be difficult for me.


    I had the same situation. I live in Richmond and found libraries that have story time for infants very helpful. You can meet other parents, at same time your baby can socialize and enjoy the songs, stories and all kind of infant plays! I know the Elcerrito library has story time aswell. You should contact libraries and ask for their story time schedule!

    Good luck 


    I haven't been but someone recently recommended Gymboree to me for the same reason: I know some yoga studios also do mommy & baby classes. You might also join "Main Street Mamas (East Bay)" FB group to get connected.

    I too am interested in any other recommendations. 

    Welcome to the Bay Area! If your baby is not yet crawling, you might try a moms' group. Lots of people love Support Group for Mothers, and their facilitator, Jennifer.

    Good luck! Mama friends are important!

    Try teacher Beth's music class at the Northbrae Church on Solano and the Alameda (it's not affiliated with the church).  It's 10:15 on Wednesdays (price is about $5 per class).  Lots of babies and parents and nannys and everyone tends to meet up at the park after.  Also, library story time is a good bet.  And are you on Next door?  I keep seeing people trying to form mommy/baby groups.  Best of Luck!

    I would like to propose a Meetup with those in this thread who have LO younger than 12 months.  The weather is getting nicer and I would love for my 7 month girl to meet and make new friends.  I work PT and I am close to Piedmont Ave.  I would like to make this a regular meeting with different locations. Please email me if you are interested.  Do provide the dates and times that you'd like to meet regularly.  I will have the first meeting at the Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland. I hope to meet you soon!

    [From Moderator: To email this poster, please click on the user name below]

  • Playgroup for 1 AND 4 year old?

    (4 replies)

    I am working with limited funds, and taking care of our 1 and 4 year old on my own. Most of the time, I enjoy it, and we do a lot of fun things together.: libraries, museums, lots of free play outdoors, play dates, music classes, et al. But I would love a break, and would like to be able to do some of my own work during the day. My 4 year old does not want to go to any type of care environment where I am not present, and we are likely pursuing the homeschooling/unschooling route, so I am not planning to enroll her in school. I would like to guide her gently towards taking part in activities where I am not present, but *in her own time*, as she is ready, and so I do not push this now when she is vocalizing clearly to me that she is not. I am not seeking advice or commentary on our decision to keep her out of institutionalized schooling at the moment ~ that is not germane to my question here.

    I'm not sure that this type of option exists, but here is what I am envisioning: a place where I can take both of my children, ages 1 and 4. and be present, but not in a supervisory role of any sort (so no co-op type of environment, or playgroup where parents are involved). I would like there to be other adult caretakers who "monitor" the space and free play (envisioning blocks, art supplies, books, etc.), while I am physically present but working on my own. It would be amazing if I could take both my 1 and 4 year old to the same space. I am happy to pay a per hour or per diem rate, but cannot afford things like the Berkeley Forest School for the older child, and then separate childcare for my younger daughter. I would love anywhere between 5-10 hours a week of this sort of relief.

    Anyone know of such an opportunity, or am I dreaming of something that doesn't exist?! Thank you.

    You could try something like a pre-school co-op. Some of them allow younger children (like your 1 yr old) to be there when the parent is present, even if the older child is the one enrolled. Most are intended for children to be left there like a regular daycare, with the parent working 1 or 2 days/week, but in many cases, the parent can be there even on their non-work day as just an additional adult presence. Check out Peter Pan in El Cerrito. They are very reasonably priced.

    Studio Grow maybe your answer.

    Maybe the Rec Room in Berkeley?


    In San Francisco there is a place called Talk Line where there is a playroom for children open in the morning until 2 pm every day. It's close to the Golden Gate Park! There are some volunteers taking care of the children while parents can work in the same building. 

    I spent a lot of time there working l and it's very convenient. 

    You can find more details online or you can send me a message!


Archived Q&A and Reviews


Any German playgroups in the Berkeley area?

Sept 2010

We will be relocating to Berkeley shortly and I am looking for German speaking playgroups, etc or parents with kids who would like to meet up for play and chat. My son is 2 years old and is raised bilingual. We would love to find some German speaking friends:) Madeleine

Hi Madeleine! Yes, there are many many German families in the Bay Area and a good way to find them is joining the Yahoo Group 'GerMOMs' - a German Mothers Group (there are different groups for San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay). Our East Bay Group used to be very active by meeting twice a week. But due to changing schedules in kid's (and parent's) lives and people moving back to Germany, most of us are left with communicating through the online forum. However, it's much easier to make friends and find children in your kid's age if you know where to look for other German parents.

There is also the GISSV Berkeley Campus (German International School Silicon Valley). You might not be thinking about elementary school yet because of your son being only two but every now and then the school organizes events (Karneval, yard sales, etc.) where you can socialize and meet other German families. Another fun (and very German!) event is the 'St. Martin's Laternenfest' at the Bay Area Kinderstube - a German Preschool in Albany. Kirstin

German kid resources in the area include Bay Area Kinderstube (BAKS), the German International School of the Silicon Valley (GISSV) in Kensington, and the German Saturday Schools of the East Bay (GSSEB). Bryce

Playgroup in Alameda?

May 2010

Hi, I'm a new mom to a 3 month old girl. Does anyone know of a group for new moms/playgroup in or near Alameda that meets on Fridays? It'd be nice to meet some other new mamas that live in the area... Wendy

Walking (or toddling) distance seems to determine the best play groups/ mom's groups. Not sure what neighborhood you live in, but if you hang out at your local park or coffee house (Julie's, JavaRama, Au Lait, Westcafe, etc.) you're bound to run into some nice families.

There are several singalongs, story times, and other events at the Alameda Libraries. This is a great way to interact with other parents and their kids.

Tot Tank has a few events for parents as well. Crosstown used to have a lot of wonderful stuff for kids, but I don't know about the new coffee house there (High Street Station). People in Alameda seem pretty open (I've been here 10 years and only met one person I thought was actually mean). You may also meet fun families at Crab Cove during their preschooler activities.

And if you want to start an organized group, consider posting on the bulletin board at Fashion After Passion. Alana in Alameda

I meet a few moms through Alameda Hip Parents & Kids Meetup group. It is easy to join and you get emails of activities.

I think the heath department here may also run a new mom's group. I might also ask the folks at Tot Tank because they used to host groups for free.

I have also seen a number of mom's groups form through Alameda Parents Network. If you post on there, with what age ranges you are looking for and what kind of things you want to do with the group, usually people get a bunch of responses.

I hope you find some cool moms. My groups of moms have really helped me out. Alameda mom

Social circle for 17-month-old?

Jan 2002

I need some recommendation or advice as to how to (or whether) to socialize my 17 month old daughter with children in her age group. My older child is almost 4 yrs old. She goes to preschool a few morings a week. When we go to drop her off, my younger one seems to enjoy seeing the other kids and playing with the new toys. All of our playdates are for my older child and the younger one just comes along and does her own thing. My question is whether I should somehow try to introduce her to those her age? If so, how? She has no school friends because I am a SAHM. I tried joining a moms group when she was first born but my older one was bored stiff and whiny at the meetings. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. N

Check out the Epworth playgroups. The group meets at Epworth Methodist United Methodist Church on Hopkins St. for two hours (no religious content). There is free play, with toys, climbing structures, play dough, markers, paint, etc. Parents rotate bringing snack for the kids and thre is a circle time at the end where each kid picks (with some help from mom, dad or care giver) a song for the group to sing. The group size is around 12 kids.

Call the coordinator Liz Dunkle at (510) 528-0467. There is a fee for the playgroup, but it's not too much. There is usually a waiting list.

I have been taking my now 18 month old there since he was about 10 months old and we both like it a lot. Both he and I have made friends there and it's a great social experience for him. The only thing I would mention as a warning is that the Thrusday group is currently full of 2 year old boys who have been together as a group for a while and our day (Tuesday) keeps getting refugees from the Thursday class who are not 2 year old boys.

Also, my little guy enjoys the gymnastics plus classes at University Village. --Karen

At 17 months, your child is not developmentally ready for cooperative play but rather parallel play. If you try to put her together with other kids her age, they will most likely not play together yet and they may have difficulty sharing their toys if a playdate is arranged at one of their homes. I found that the best way to begin to socialize a toddler this age is to take them to parent participation classes like Gymboree or Music Time/Kindermusik where they can get used to being around others the same age and they can learn to share equipment, take turns, and play and laugh together. I did this for a year or so with both of my kids and I think it helped get them ready for preschool at age 3.

As you have probably noticed babies and toddlers love to be around other little people. So if you don't have a bunch of cousins for your little one to interract with provide her with a socialization experience through park play, Mommy and me classes at the community center, music class, Gymboree, Kindergym or a playgroup. If traveling to Walnut Creek isn't too far for you I would be glad to welcome you at the John Muir Hospital Women's Health Center (1656 N. California Blvd. across from Perfominrg arts Center)Toddler Support group every Thursday from 9:15-10:15. Drop in basis, different discussion topics every week, circle time, songs, playtime. For more info feel free to email me. Ksenija

I had the same problem with my second child. She had no friends until 2 1/2 yrs old. I joined a parent participation program for 2 yr olds - loosely based on a pre school structure ( you didn't say where you lived but there are many of these programs around in most communities. In Berkeley, there is the playgroup at Epworth Church) while my first attends her pre school. You could also try joining a moms group that meets on a morning your older child is at preschool.

Now that the older child is in pre-school it would be good to try again to find your toddler friends of her own. Do you know anyone with kids both ages? That's unbeatable. Otherwise, either a formal group, a moms & tots group, a music class or lots of time at Totland playground seems fair. Even younger children should get to be the center of attention sometimes! Heather

I am a SAHM who joined a playgroup when my second child was around 9 months old. Our playgroup is still active 2 years later, and my daughter has formed meaningful friendships with several children from the group. I have as well. My daughter is independent and outgoing, and she truly enjoys other children. However, some of the children in our playgroup never bonded with the other children. They tended to be shy and unable to leave their mothers' sides. Now that those children are in preschool, though, they are making friends. So I would advise that you try joining a playgroup and see if your toddler enjoys playing with others in that setting. I found my playgroup through the Neighborhood Parents Network. Another option to consider is enrolling your toddler in a part-time playschool program, such as the one my daughter has been in since 19 months for 2 mornings a week. Several wonderful people do home-based programs in the Berkeley area. You can get the information from the Neighborhood Parents Network Preschool Directory. I wholeheartedly recommend Bari Nelson's program.