I have been taking Toby to Turtle Tots swimming classes since he was about four months old. We’ve had our ups and downs with it but overall it’s been a great experience. We’ve just finished our Level 3 block of classes (well, there is one more class to go when we go back after the summer holidays) and we’ve signed up for Level 4 which is the last level of baby swimming before moving on to the toddler class. We’ve also been using Toby’s swimming kit from Konfidence for the last couple of months which I reviewed here.
So, after eight months of swimming what has Toby learnt so far? The Turtle Tots classes have been great and our instructor Amanda is fantastic. Each class involves lots of songs and games to keep the babies engaged and interested and each class builds on the previous ones. Since his first lesson when Toby started by getting used to having water splashed on his face he now goes underwater several times a lesson (and swims back up to the surface on his own), he can hold on to the side of the pool on his own (and climb out with a tiny bit of help), he can splash into (and under the water) on his own from the side and we’re working on him being able to turn himself round underwater and get back to the side. He can float on his back with just a little support of his head from me, he can kick his legs as I swim him along, and he’s just starting to get the hang of moving himself along with a short woggle under each arm and no help from me! All pretty impressive for a baby who doesn’t turn one until next week I reckon! We even got chance to have an underwater photo shoot to capture Toby’s baby swimming experience (although somehow the photos came out looking nothing like him!).
The main aim of Turtle Tots baby swimming programme is to teach babies water confidence and essential life-saving skills. Toby is by no means drown-proof but I’m fairly sure if he fell in water he’d manage to get himself back up to the surface at least. For me though, taking Toby to classes with Turtle Tots from such a young age has given me confidence to take him in the water that I perhaps wouldn’t have had on my own. I certainly don’t think I’d be doing submersions with him on my own if I didn’t know what I was doing! Now I would happily take Toby swimming on my own and practice all the things we’ve been doing in class. It was quite funny when we took him in the pool on holiday – there were quite a lot of amazed stares from other people in the pool as I put my eleven month old baby under the water and let go!!
If I’m honest, it’s still a bit hit and miss as to whether Toby actually likes being in the pool or not. I usually count it as a good lesson if we get through it without any crying! I don’t think it’s being in the water that he doesn’t like as such but there are so many things that can affect how he gets on from week to week – if he’s a bit tired or hungry that doesn’t help, if he’s teething then he tends to be a bit unhappy too (especially on his back), or the big one for Toby seems to be if he gets cold. We swim in a warm water pool which is supposed to be heated to 32° but sometimes it’s a bit less than that. Wearing his Konfidence Babywarma makes a big difference too but sometimes my skinny wee boy just gets a bit cold (and actually shivers) and he just doesn’t like it that much! I’m hoping that as he gets bigger he might be able to tolerate the colder water a bit better.
I would totally recommend baby swimming lessons if you have the opportunity to do them – I will say that they are fairly expensive when compared to just taking your baby to the pool on your own but worth every penny for the tuition and support that you get. We’ve been very lucky in that Toby’s grandparents paid for the first two blocks of lessons and then we were able to do the third block as part of our role as Konfidence Swimologists.
I’ll be keeping you updated on Toby’s progress in the pool. I really want to keep him going to swimming lessons until he is able to swim on his own. And with my massively long skinny baby, who knows? Maybe we’ve got the next Michael Phelps on our hands!