Friday, 11 July 2014

Swimming lessons with Waterbabies

I have never been a particularly strong or confident swimmer. Sure, I can swim but I only do so on holiday really. I think I wore armbands until I was about 10 and I would fool everybody into thinking I could swim, when in reality I was actually walking along the bottom of the pool. When Little One was born, I told myself I would ensure that he would be given the opportunity as early as possible to be safe in the water and enjoy swimming from a young age. 


Little One at his first Waterbabies swimming lesson aged 13 weeks. 
Knowing the importance of being able to swim confidently, when Little One was 12 weeks old, we decided to sign him up for swimming lessons. I had seen a few adverts for Waterbabies in my Bounty packs and in mother and baby magazines, so decided to get in touch with them to enquire about lessons. 

Little One commenced lessons at 13 weeks old and within his class, most of the babies were a similar age to him (there was just one older baby who was approaching one). Waterbabies do let babies start swimming from birth as well. Only one parent is allowed in the pool with the baby, so we decided that as we were having Saturday lessons, daddy would take Little One in the pool and I would sit on the side to watch. I also thought it would be nice for daddy to take part in a group as I was going to so many other groups with Little One in the week. 

One of the most difficult aspects of taking a very young baby to a municipal pool is that the water temperatures are often too cold. Within our area, we are fortunate in that the Waterbabies lessons take place in slightly warmer pools/hydrotherapy pools in three local special needs schools. 

In Waterbabies classes, the teachers are keen for babies to swim comfortably underwater. In the first lesson, it was quite a leap of faith for daddy to pass our tiny little bundle over to a stranger and let them dunk him underwater. It was a real lesson in trusting the experts, however, the teacher made us feel reassured and secure. Some people criticise Waterbabies for doing too much underwater swimming but from our experience, there is a good mix of surface technique as well as underwater swims. 

Little One going under water for the first time. I felt so nervous watching, but the teacher was fantastic and he was fine. Truly amazing to watch. 
 The progression within one lesson, let alone week to week is quite astonishing. We love the pace of the lessons and always get a full 30 minutes. Now, at 11 months, our little Waterbaby is doing three underwater swims a lesson, swimming through underwater hoops and can confidently hold onto the pool side himself. They say babies learn quickly- and I think the progress all the babies in his class have made proves this. Everything is explained so clearly, and even though I'm not in the pool, I'm able to follow what they're doing. I would now feel confident to try some of the activities with Little One if I took him swimming myself. 

Because a lot of the activities are based around simple songs and nursery rhymes they are really easy to remember. Little One loves the songs and we often use some of these, along with the activities when he's in the bath at home. 

At £135 for 10 lessons, we do find Waterbabies lessons to be quite expensive and if you know you're going to miss a lesson you do still pay for it but we accept this and we knew that it was a 10 week commitment when we signed up. We see this expense as an important investment as the classes not only teach him to swim, they also teach him invaluable life saving skills in the water. The Waterbabies website state that:

'Our lessons are more expensive than most other classes. And so they should be: we invest heavily in making sure ours is the safest, most progressive, most sociable and most expert programme around. Our teachers are better-trained than any others; we hire the warmest pools; and we provide free expert pool consultancy to those venues to ensure that the water quality is consistently the best it can be.' (from Waterbabies website). 

Although we had an inital problem in that our first teacher was off on long term sick, we now have a new highly experienced teacher, and overall we have been very impressed with the quality of the teaching. 

We are now coming to the end of our 3rd cycle of lessons and are very much looking forward to our next block of lessons in the autumn. We can't wait to see what he'll learn next and can't to taking him swimming on holiday! 

For more information on Waterbabies, please visit their website.


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6 comments

  1. Aww, I think it's great getting children into swimming when they are tiny, if it's done in a safe and enjoyable way. And this looks great.
    Heaher
    http://eeebgum.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. I think swimming lessons are so much more enjoyable for everyone involved when the baby actually enjoys it. It's such an important life skill and like you say, if it can be taught in a safe and fun environment then all the better! Amelia

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  2. We tried something similar with son1 when he was tiny. He loved it then, but once he learnt to walk, hated it. Then went through a period of lots of colds so we weren't taking him to the pool much and he basically forgot all he had learnt. So we didn't bother with son2 #weekendbloghop

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    1. Aw that's a shame he didn't enjoy it. I've known a few babies who have not enjoyed swimming as much as others, especially if they're teething or unwell with a cold (which seems to be all the time when they're little!)

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  3. Hello found your blog through #WeekendBlogHop and I have to tell you: you and your baby are gorgeous!! Baby swimming look so much fun!! My dad loves swimming and always encouraged us (we later found out he tried out for the olympics!!!) so I hope my future children will be water babies xx

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    1. Aaw thank you so much :-) Baby swimming is immensely fun! How cool that your dad tried out for the Olympics!! That should inspire them to be swimmers, definitely! Thanks for stopping by here to have a look at my blog. Amelia xx

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