Mum and baby group chalks up 25 years of success to sing about

SONGS Nickie Rayner with her nan Gwen Underdown, daughter Paige and mum Elaine Bassant. Pictures: Sarah Standing (131641-8132)
SONGS Nickie Rayner with her nan Gwen Underdown, daughter Paige and mum Elaine Bassant. Pictures: Sarah Standing (131641-8132)
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FOUR generations of the same family helped celebrate a baby singing group’s 25th anniversary.

The Mumbaba singalong sessions were started by Chris Strode in her dining room in Emsworth a quarter of a century ago.

Since then thousands of babies and toddlers have learned to sing and make friends at 25 groups across the area – and through recordings she has produced which are listened to around the world.

One of the first babies ever to enjoy the classes was Nickie Rayner, 25, who now takes her own 15-month-old daughter Paige to the Emsworth classes.

She attended the birthday party with her mother Elaine Bassant and grandmother Gwen Underdown.

Nickie said: ‘We love it. It’s surprising how many songs I actually remembered from my childhood after I had a recap when I started bringing Paige along.’

Nickie’s mum Elaine, 54, said: ‘Mumbaba is wonderful. I brought Nickie when it started 25 years ago.

‘The babies learn so much – all the songs and the actions. It’s a great learning curve for them. I’m a childminder and I’ve taken all my children to Mumbaba over the years. They make lots of friends here.’

Mumbaba became so popular that Christine, 56, began running it as a franchise and there are now branches all over the south.

In 1998 a sound engineer heard about the classes and worked with Christine to record nursery rhymes on CDs which immediately sold out.

Some have are even used by children in other countries to help learn English.

Christine said: ‘It’s a job I loving doing. I get a real buzz from seeing how beneficial singing is to babies, toddlers and their parents and carers.

‘I could see the magic effect it had on boys especially.

‘It literally tamed them.

‘Singing with mums in a group teaches babies and toddlers to listen, join in and take turns, which are hugely important aspects of behaviour needed for school life later.

‘And singing boosts children’s confidence. Learning songs gives the children a wonderful, early positive learning experience that encourages them to continue learning later on.

‘I find it hard to believe Mumbaba is so big today.’