Are baby and toddler groups allowed to continue in lockdown?

Are baby and toddler groups allowed to continue in lockdown? For many parents and carers, it's the question of the month as many are back working from home.

Child in a baby and toddler group, which have allowed to continue in lockdown
(Image credit: Getty Images/Westend61)

With so much of children's early lives changed by the pandemic, many young families are hoping that baby and toddler groups are allowed to continue in lockdown. 

During the latest lockdown (opens in new tab) at the start of this year, many children's groups that didn't classify as nurseries and/or childminders were temporarily closed. Baby and toddler groups were one of these, as they often require the parent or carer to stay with the child, so they didn't meet the requirements for childcare.

Now we're on the government's roadmap out of lockdown (opens in new tab) though, things have changed.

Are baby and toddler groups allowed to continue in lockdown?

Baby and toddler groups of up to 15 are allowed to gather outdoors, thanks to the change of rules on March 29. Baby and toddler groups may take place indoors from April 12, with a limit of 15 attendees.

In both cases, children under five years of age and the group leader don't count towards the attendee limit.

The Early Years Alliance, who are the largest early years membership organisation in England, have reached out to the government for more clarification on what will and won't be allowed. They have said, "We know many providers are concerned about the new rules on singing for these groups, which currently prohibit parents from joining in. We will be raising this with the DfE [Department of Education], including asking for the scientific evidence behind this decision, as a matter of urgency this week."

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Other early years settings and wraparound childcare like childminders and nurseries can stay open (opens in new tab) to all children, where it's needed to help parents and carers go to work, attend educational settings or seek medical help.

Any social mixing outside a household or support bubble (opens in new tab) indoors is still banned under the regulations until May 17, however, when two households or a group of six will be able to mix for social reasons inside.

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Are baby classes allowed during the second lockdown?

Baby classes, such as those gymboree-style classes that include sensory play, music sessions or art sessions, are allowed from April 12 onwards.

Gymboree Play & Music (opens in new tab), which has centres throughout London and in Warwick and Leamington Spa, Bristol, St Albans and Solihull, has confirmed that they are opening from April 12 under the new guidance issued recently. A statement on their website reads, "So if everything goes to plan we should be re-opening our doors in England on 12th April – fingers crossed! Hopefully our centres in Scotland should be able to open around the same time, but no specific dates have been published yet."

Parents with toddler as baby and toddler groups are allowed when lockdown lifts

Credit: Getty

Other baby classes, such as anti-natal classes that help parents prepare for childbirth, went online mostly during the first lockdown due to the risk of coronavirus during pregnancy. Many of these classes resumed in person in January though, as they fell within the 'Support Group' category of essential reasons for leaving home.

Baby and toddler groups were closed during the third lockdown because essentially, they focus on the social, cognitive and physical development of children and to help with this, parents and carers are often in attendance too. This means that they're not explicitly considered 'childcare services' and there was too much inter-household mixing, with potential for the virus to spread while cases were at their highest.

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.