Harry has just started a Baby Sensory class with my wife on a day when Sophie is at nursery.

Run by an old friend of ours, Rachel, Hartbeeps has been a great experience for him (and my wife), especially if the array of outfits, comedy headgear and smiling photographs is anything to go by.

I’ve not been yet but my sole experience of Baby Sensory – or Toddler Sensory more like – was at a third birthday party of Sophie’s nursery friend recently.

Wow.

We felt honoured to be invited to it. Sophie was friendly with the birthday boy from nursery but we hadn’t been able to meet the parents before.

As third birthday parties go though, it offered the complete experience.

Hosted on the top floor of a church hall, the room itself wasn’t particularly big. However what they managed to pack in to the time we were there was remarkable.

Upon arrival, we were faced with portable soft play and a bouncy castle which the many excitable toddlers absolutely loved. Sophie was in her element, charging up and down the steps, across the bridges and bouncing around.

Normally that’d be sufficient but after about half an hour, the soft play was surreptitiously packed away and the sensory experience began.

A local organisation had been drafted in to provide the session and this highly energetic and engaging playworker immediately grabbed the children’s attention with her astonishing box of gadgets. We were whisked into space in search of the sun which “the naughty alien” had managed to kidnap. Cue disco lights, electronic music and confused but excited toddlers peering around.

We hid underneath the parachute to protect ourselves from the toxic atmosphere of space before suddenly he was found! The naughty alien was bouncing from child to child before we got our hands on him and brought him to justice. (See how I was getting into it?)

After we’d rescued the sun, we naturally had a party to celebrate, dancing round the room. Completely randomly, a giant inflatable Spiderman was released into the room, entertaining some of the children but reducing others to tears with his immense bulk. Sophie just ignored him.

Finally, the experience was over and our exhausted pilot/host/lady began the arduous process of packing away all her gadgets. Helped by the children of course? Not a chance – they were onto the next thing…food!

What a spread was prepared as well. Heaps of sandwiches, beautiful homemade sausage rolls, loads of fruit, jelly, ice cream…it was tremendous. Most of Sophie’s ended up on the floor or was left on her plate – except for the slab of birthday cake that is which she thoroughly enjoyed painting her face with.

After food, it was the end of the party but there was still time for the children to descend en masse onto the floor and simply run up and down chasing each other – which was probably what they wanted to do all along.

We left, clutching our superhero party bag, and thanked our very kind hosts, utterly exhausted by our first 3 year old birthday party.

Sophie is three in six weeks…I’m not sure I’d be up for hosting something like that.