Ok I don’t mean to brag, but seriously how cute is my little dude in that picture above! He is such a sweet baby and loves a cuddle more than anything else in the world right now, which of course I’m fine with as I adore cwtching him all day! But on with the post…we decided when Elian was just a few weeks old that we really wanted to take him to a swimming class when he was small. I grew up as a competitive child swimmer (unit I was 13) and even competed for Wales once (there is a radio interview somewhere out there in the world of me and my parents talking about being a sports star of the future but hopefully that will never surface!!) so swimming was a massive part of my childhood and I really want him to love swimming as much as I do (it might even reignite my passion for it!). Plus there is obviously the huge safety advantage if a child can swim and be confident in the water from a young age. So at 12 weeks old Elian and me took our first Water Babies Class with the lovely Sian!! Week 1 – So Elian loves the bath, he really enjoys being in the water and kicking his legs about so I thought he would be more than happy in the water…I was wrong! The pool is lovely and warm where our classes are (a little too warm for spectators, Jon was melting!) and there are only 12 of us in the class so its a lovely little group but annoyingly the minute we started moving in the water he started crying. If he’s just cwtched into me or sitting on my knee he is happy but start moving and thats it the crying starts.
So the first class we all introduced ourselves and Sian (our lovey instructor) went through a bit about what would happen in the classes and what she would be teaching the babies and us (it’s just as much about parents learning to be confident in the water with the babies as it is the babies being confident in the water themselves). We did some bouncing while walking around and singing and teaching them to get used to water over their face when we said a command and poured it over their head with our hand, surprisingly Elian didn’t actually mind the water over the head bit too much. Then we held them to on their fronts facing us while we walked backwards so they were in a swimming position (this bit he wasn’t keen on to start with but seemed not to mind as much later in the class) Sian then took each baby separately and did their first dunk! She gave them the same command as when we poured water over them, then slowly dunked them under the water in a forward motion so they would come up as if swimming facing mum or dad…this bit didn’t go too well and he spluttered lots and cried a fair bit, but so did many of the babies so I didn’t feel so bad. Lastly we sung twinkle twinkle to calm babies and signal the end of the class and Elian was out before the end of the first verse! He slept for quite a while afterwards too!
Week 2 – Ok so I was hoping for an improvement and thought maybe he was just tired the first lesson so I made sure he had a good sleep before we went so he was nice and awake when the class started. Getting into the water he was a bi happier and was happily sitting on my tummy watching all the others get into the pool, but yet again the minute the class got started and we moved the crying started, and he was even worse than the first class! But Sian was really patient with him and said to just cwtch him whilst walking round and singing the songs to try and at least get him calm and comfortable in the water whilst moving. She even talked to him gently for a little bit trying to reassure him that he was safe.
We followed the same little routine as the first class to start with but then Sian went to do their first dunk and the minute she took Elian he started bawling so she just walked him round and said she would com back at the end, the minute she handed him over to me the crying stopped, he is a nightly little boy, lol! She tried again after doing the other babies but got the same reaction. We did a few more walks around which he was a bit calmer for and then sat them on the side and did a humpty dumpty song where you lift them into the pool with a little splash when humpty falls off the wall, again he was not a fan of this!! Then the parents got to do our own first dunk, Sian stood with us at al times to walk us though it holding our arms to guide us, so Elian was a bit calmer as it was me but again spluttered and cried lots afterwards, he then cwtched in, calmed down and went to sleep!!! So for the Twinkle song at the end Sian asked us to turn the babies on their backs, saying most don’t like going on their backs in the water but Elian just went back to sleep as you can see in the picture below! He slept for hours when we got home and that night so it obviously tired him out.
Even though he isn’t exactly enjoying the classes yet I am still hoping he will start to get used to being in the water and eventually enjoy going swimming with us. As long as he starts feeling a bit more comfortable in the water we will be signing up again for the next 10 week Water Babies course after christmas.
Now I’m gonna be honest Water Babies is expensive, at around £150 for 10×30 minute lessons you could well find swimming classes at your local leisure centre a lot cheaper but…local leisure centre classes often aren’t for tiny babies and sadly the coaches usually don’t have training specifically for babies. Plus Water Babies first priority when the babies are small is to teach them not to swim but water safety, to know when they jump or fall in the pool to turn around and hold onto the side of the pool, to be able to bring themselves to the surface, even at the age of 6 months, and for me Elian knowing how to do this from such a young age is worth the cost of the class alone. Knowing he has a good level of confidence and safety understanding in the water is worth so much to me. Obviously I hope he’ll learn to swim properly as well as time goes on, but being safe in water is my priority.
Do you take your little ones swimming? Did you take them to lessons as babies or kids? Are they confident in the water? Check out the South Wales Water Babies Classes here.