Yes, we know the very notion makes you cringe. But you’ll thank Heidi Scrimgeour for this advice.

It’s an unusual mum that loves baby groups. Most of us go along begrudgingly, at least at first.  I share your pain – I’ve had more than my fair share of mum group cringe moments during 11 years of being a parent three times over.

But (and here’s the important bit) I’ve also met some of the coolest women I’ve ever encountered via dreaded mum groups, and I’ve come to count some fellow reluctant mum group attendees as my besties.

So don’t write off mum groups altogether. Dig deep and shuffle past the awkward silences and the toddler face-offs over who had the ride-on trike first, to find the true friendships waiting to blossom beneath all that. Here’s how to make friends with other mums at baby group…

Find common ground

Whether it’s divulging birth story details, bonding over the fact that there’s half a dozen Tilly’s in your toddler group or simply sharing a love of chocolate Hob Nobs, find something to connect with other mums on and strike up a conversation about whatever you’ve got in common.

Invite the nice mums round for a cuppa

Identify the mums you could imagine mingling with at the bar on a Saturday night, should you ever make it out of the house after dark again, and invite them round for a cuppa. Get the good biscuits in, assemble the baby toys least likely to start warfare among the rugrats and just enjoy getting to know other mums on your own turf. And if it all goes well, sort a night out for a cheeky cocktail at the earliest available opportunity. There’s not a mum gang in the land whose friendships have not been cemented by a child-free social event involving a strawberry daiquiri or three.

Don’t expect mum friends to be exactly like other mates

To a certain extent there’s an ‘edge’ to mum friendships brought about by the fact that it’s your kids that connect you. You might never have clicked if you’d struck up a conversation over the photocopier at work but that’s ok – you’ve got your kids in common and that’s a good enough basis for any friendship.

Do not fear the false start

Finally, don’t worry if you have a few false starts with mum mates. Sometimes it takes a few get togethers before you realise that the mum whose shoe collection you envy is actually a cry-it-out aficionado to your attachment parenting devotee. That doesn’t have to be the ending of your friendship, of course, but if you find you end up parting company with a mum mate on account of discovering that you have less in common than you first thought, just chalk it up to experience and move on. (And by the way, I’ve never met a mum whose shoes I envied who didn’t turn out to be a life-long pal.)

@mushmums @heidiscrim