From courses offering babies motor skills, to swimming, fun zone play equipment and trampolining, Hong Kong has something to satisfy your children, writes Vickie Chan. One thing that most children in Hong Kong have in common is that there just isn’t enough space for them to play – and that issue has different effects at different ages. Anne Knetch-Boyer has been teaching the PEKiP (Prayer Eltern Kin Programme) infant development for 17 years. This helps babies as young as six weeks to develop good motor skills. “Babies learn by moving and their first year is about muscle development, reflexes and co-ordination, which matures the brain for future learning and success,” Knetch-Boyer says, adding that social skills and emotional bonding also blossom. Allowing up to eight babies (with parents) per class in her spacious Tin Wan studio, Knetch-Boyer believes that babies are restricted by space in most Hong Kong apartments. “Play is very important. Spend time on the floor, make them grasp a toy, roll over and try ‘tummy time’ until they can spin and crawl. Parents can find new inspirations for play each session,” she says. Babies will also experience how to interact with different toys, textures, forms and weight and discover actions like shaking and rolling. An obstacle course with stairs and items to crawl over and under teach babies the feeling of their body responding to their muscles as they move. If you want an idea of how your baby is developing, Knetch-Boyer explains, “rolling and crawling starts by around nine months, but all babies are different. Those who dislike tummy time and learn to sit up will crawl late, thereby developing leg and arm work late, and co-ordination – which stop them from exploring their environment. Our babies are confident, have good balance, are co-ordinated and have excellent social skills once they graduate,” she says. Baby Spa Luxe Another option for babies is massage and swimming or hydrotherapy, at Baby Spa Luxe’s three sites (Caine Road, Heng Fa Chuen and Tseung Kwan O). Parents are encouraged to learn and carry it out at home. The benefits include bonding via verbal and non-verbal communication, using the senses to stimulate circulation, the digestive system, muscular development, and more. It can also help with gas, colic, teething pain and other baby problems. Swimming and hydrotherapy is physical and strengthens the baby’s heart and lungs, in turn aiding development of the brain. As with most physical activity, it is good for developing co-ordination, trust and confidence. Fun Zone But confidence, bonding and co-ordination aren’t just needed during the first year of life, however; they are essential for children of all ages. With locations in Kennedy Town, Ma On Shan and North Point, FunZone offers an indoor playground equipped with slides, swings, tunnels, climbing nets and more for children aged up to 12. The equipment is custom-made in North America, to international standards – and there’s a toddler zone included. The focus is on fun and playing alongside parents in a clean and safe environment, but FunZone are experienced party hosts too. Sessions are inexpensive, starting from $50 for children. Monthly passes are also available, as are party packages. Classes on offer include Twinkle Dance Company, a 45-minute jazz or ballet class; Rugbees, a 45-minute play and learn session aimed at developing rugby skills such as catching, kicking, balance, co-ordination and team work; yoga, where those under three must be accompanied by an adult (although an adult must always be on site); and Kindermusik, a 45-minute, licensed music class. Children can stay to play after class, for free. Ryze Ultimate Trampoline Park One option that appeals to both adults and children is Ryze Ultimate Trampoline Park in Quarry Bay. This consists of over 7,000 square feet of connected trampolines, alongside a pit of foam that you can either trampoline into or slack line above. Due to its nature, however, there are a lot of cautionary rules at Ryze: Under-18s must have their waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian – and which doesn’t include siblings, aunts and so on – while under-12s must be accompanied (properly) by an adult. Under-15s are not allowed after 9pm at weekends. Bookings are paid for in advance at $150 an hour, but those aged six and under can jump for just $95 during some sessions. Ryze is a fun and safe place, when people play carefully. With 40 connected trampolines, users are not supposed to share, and you have to be a little careful not to accidentally bend a toe the wrong way. That said, your children will definitely sleep well that night.