Toby and I have been going to baby swimming lessons for five weeks now. We go to a Turtle Tots class at a nearby pool. There are about eight babies in the class which is a nice amount – not too big and not too small. The classes are great; there’s lots of repetition from week to week to get the babies used to what is happening but we also build on the skills we are learning at each lesson.
Baby swimming is pretty amazing – did you know babies are born with a reflex that means they automatically hold their breath when they are submerged in the water. So from the second lesson we have been putting Toby under the water and letting go before bringing him back up again. Sometimes I get to go under the water too and watch him ‘swimming’ towards me and today he ‘swam’ through a hoop before I picked him up out of the water! The last couple of weeks we have also been teaching the babies to hold on to the side of the pool to keep their head above water – Toby is really getting the hang of that one too.
I think it’s really important to teach children to swim when they are young as it’s definitely one of those things that gets harder the older you are. My mum took me swimming when I was young. I had both school and private lessons when I was in primary school and I can’t really remember ever not being able to swim. It meant lots of fun on family camping holidays in France and I’m sure it made life easier for my mum and dad, knowing that my brother and I were safe and confident in the water.
I’m really enjoying the lessons. Toby doesn’t always seem convinced but I’m hoping as we keep going he’ll start to visibly enjoy it more. I think that one of the reasons Toby isn’t looking like he enjoys swimming too much (apart from that his mum keeps dunking him under the water!) is because he gets a bit cold in the pool. The water temperature is apparently 30 degrees but the air temperature makes it feel a bit cooler than that, especially once his hair is wet. I’m glad then, that I decided to buy a Splash About BabyWrap which is a sort of baby wetsuit. You can see Toby wearing his in the photo at the top of this post. Splash About are the makers of the Happy Nappy; a neoprene nappy which can be used on its own or over a disposable or reusable swim nappy. Many baby swim schools (including Turtle Tots) insist that all the babies use a Happy Nappy as any leaks of solid waste into the pool would mean it would have to be closed to be thoroughly cleaned. The Happy Nappy and BabyWrap are both great and really do the job they are designed for well. It can be a bit of a wriggle to get the nappy on but that is because it has to be tight around the legs and waist to avoid any leaks. The BabyWrap opens out completely flat and then velcros in place so it’s really easy to get on and off quickly. And it really does help to keep Toby warm. When I take it off after the lesson his body is always toasty underneath. The only thing I would say about the BabyWrap is to watch out with the sizing. Toby is long but not especially big but the 0-6 month wrap that we originally ordered would barely meet in the middle so we had to order the 6-18 month size, which is a bit big but hopefully will last a lot longer!
Our top tips for baby swimming
I really wasn’t worried about taking Toby swimming. I knew I was confident in the water and we would be with a fully qualified instructor. The only thing I was a bit worried about was getting us both changed before and then dry and dressed afterwards without too much drama. I did a bit of research before our first lesson and came up with a few top tips.
- Put your swimming costume on at home then you only have to worry about getting the baby ready before you swim (don’t forget to take underwear with you for after though!)
- Get a waterproof changing mat so you can dress your baby on the floor. There may be special baby changing cubicles but if your pool is anything like ours there aren’t many and when you are at a baby swimming class there certainly aren’t enough. Putting your baby on the floor rather than one of the changing tables also means you can leave them safely while you put stuff in the locker. The mat you can see on the photo below was a gift from the lovely people at Splash About as they liked the photos we tweeted of Toby in his swimming gear.
- Take two towels for your baby. This is a really great tip for a happy baby. I take one towel poolside so I can wrap Toby up as soon as we get out but this one gets soaking wet really quickly. So when we get to the cubicle I take his wet swimming things off, wrap him in the dry towel (another great Splash About purchase that you can see in the photo) and then he’s happy to kick about on the floor while I get dressed. I think I might invest in one of these towelling All-in-Ones soon though as Toby does have a habit of kicking his towel off when I’m busy getting dressed!
If you haven’t taken your baby swimming yet I would really recommend it. It’s fantastic to see how much progress Toby is making every week. If you can I really think it’s worth going to organised lessons. Although I could have taken Toby to the pool on my own I don’t think I would have known where to start in actually starting to teach him the basics of swimming.
And finally, the added bonus of swimming lessons? After half an hour in the pool this morning, Toby came home, had his lunch time feed and has now been asleep for three hours and counting!
**Disclosure: I was not given any goods or services in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own.