By Claire Harrison, owner of Swimming Rocks.
Being in the water is a wonderful sensory time for a baby. It helps develop cognitive and physical awareness, builds confidence and is a great bonding experience. You will be very surprised what your baby can achieve in a short space of time whilst having lots of fun too.
And it’s a magical experience for both you and your baby. One that often provides some of your most treasured memories!
Here we try and give you some of our ‘Top Tips’ for a great swimming experience.
Start Lessons Early
- Babies have a set of reflexes that mean they have a natural affinity to the water. These reflexes go away as babies get a bit older so it’s wise to consider starting lessons early to capitalise on these reflex abilities meaning instinctive action becomes controlled action later on. The gag reflex allows babies to be able to hold their breath under the water and the grab reflex means they can even hold onto the side of the pool themselves.
- Current advice is that babies can start swimming from a very early age. So despite common theory, you don’t need to wait until your baby has had their vaccinations to start swimming lessons.
- The earlier you start, the happier, safer and more confident your baby will be and the sessions will also help develop good motor skills as well as co-ordination.
Don’t stop just because it’s cold outside
- Swimming is a year round activity so don’t stop swimming just because it’s cold outside. The continuity and consistency will prove valuable with your baby’s swimming progression. Just make sure you choose a pool where the temperature is 30degrees. If it’s less than this, choose a baby wetsuit. We like the babywarma wetsuits by Konfidence and the babywrap from Splash About.
- Take a towel for you and another for your baby. Even better, invest in a small toweling robe for yourself. You will be glad of the warmth when getting your baby changed after the lesson.
Some helpful advice for your lessons;
- Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t like the water straight away. Smile, persevere and encourage and they will get there very soon.
- Your baby will look to you for que’s. So relax, and enjoy yourself and your baby will follow your lead.
- Choose a time slot that works with your routine and ideally wait about 30minutes after a milk feed or an hour after a solid feed before you go into the pool.
- Take a drink or small snack or feed your baby after the lessons. Learning to swim is thirsty work!
- Wear a neoprene ‘happy nappy’ over the top of your normal swim nappy. This will avoid any unexpected explosive poo incidents and prevent lessons being cancelled whilst the pool gets cleaned. These are available from both Konfidence and Splash About.
- You don’t have to be a good swimmer to attend swimming lessons with your baby but inform your Instructor before your lessons and they can offer you and your baby extra assistance if needed. Better still, take the opportunity to take some swimming lessons yourself!
- Understand your provider’s lesson program and talk to your Instructor about what you want to achieve. At Swimming Rocks there is lot of emphasis on water safety in the lessons. Making sure a baby can turn, float and get themselves to the side with ease is all part of their lesson ‘milestone’ progress.
- We found that parents often didn’t know what they can expect to achieve at each development stage so we have designed a take home pack detailing these milestones plus helpful hints and tips and a guide to making bath time easy! Ask your provider if they do the same or email us and we will send you ours for you to enjoy.
And finally, make bath time fun
- Bath time is fun time. Remember to use the same commands, prompts and songs from your lessons at home too.
- Bring a favorite bath toy along to your lesson to associate a positive water experience.
- ‘Its raining… its pouring’. A little plastic cup with a few holes in the bottom makes a lovely little rain shower. Tickle those tummies and toes whilst gradually working up the shoulders, back of the head and eventually baby’s face and nose.
Claire Harrison is the owner of Swimming Rocks and mummy to her own water babies Samuel (4) and Eva Tilly (1).
Tel: 07557 051 904