This is something that I have a lot of experience with, I’ve been baby swimming with my kiddos since Reuben was 8 weeks old, and it is only this month that Roo has jumped into swim classes without me in the pool with him. So over the years I have learnt what does and doesn’t work for preparing for your first lesson , and I have seen so many babies and parents start their journey learning to swim that I wanted to share a few of my top tips to try and help parents feel more prepared and put aside the nerves that come with baby swimming for the first time.
There is something about having a new or young baby that means you need a truck load of stuff with you constantly! Be organised, pack your bags for swimming the night before – arrive before you think you need to. Generally you need to remember a towel for you and for baby, swimwear for you and baby, a disposable nappy, a wetsuit nappy to go over the top and a nappy for afterwards. On top of all of this you need to take with you whatever you normally would for a day out with baby. I would suggest if you aim to arrive a good 15-20 mins before your class starts, you won’t feel rushed. I always tried to get to the boys swim classes early to feed them and get changed without rushing.
Don’t give baby a full feed directly before class, but do give them a little top up if they are hungry
You will find that when you start baby swim classes you will be advised to avoid feeding baby up to an hour before swimming. This is because if they have a full stomach and get water up their nose or down the wrong way, they can be sick… pretty much just like you. Unfortunately babies don’t accept this advice very often! What I would suggest is have a feed prepared or scheduled for afterwards, but try to give baby a little top up 15-20 mins before class. That way the hunger will be put off for a time and they will be able to enjoy the class more. So many people over the years have told me they stopped swim classes because they could only do them at a time she they knew baby needed a feed and then there was nothing but tears all class. I’m not saying ignore the rule, never give baby a full feed, but a little top up is ideal.
Be prepared for tears every so often, it doesn’t mean they hate it
Ok, when you start baby swimming you are trying to get them used to water and water confident. Often during baby swimming your baby will be submerged at one point or another, and if not they are certainly going to be splashed in the face with water. Don’t panic if they cry! It’s not a sign that they hated it, its a sign that they need you to reassure them and remind them that this isn’t something bad or scary, just different. I also find that the younger baby is when you start, the less bothered they are by water to the face or being submerged, after all, they have spent the last 9 months in water you know!
SMILE. A lot.
It really doesn’t matter that you are nervous, you need to smile and look like you are having a great time. If you don’t then your baby ill sense this and might think that something is wrong. Is it scary taking your new baby under the water at however many weeks old? Yes, but if you let them know that then you are setting up for disaster. This is something that is going to be a life skill for your child. Reuben is just 4 and he is swimming at the competency level of a 5-6 year old – we have had years and years of enjoyment together during our swim classes and I think that is something that every newcomer to baby swimming should keep in mind.
Baby has a cold, it doesn’t mean you can’t swim.
So baby has a bit of a snuffle and you are worried that it might not be a great time to start swimming or take them. As long as there is no chesty cough, no temperature and you think baby will be happy to swim, a cold doesn’t mean you can’t swim. You can – in fact, chlorine will often help to clear the cold away. Go with your instincts and remember that you both have to be confident in the pool, not just the baby.
So they are my top tips, it’s easy to feel over whelmed and nervous for your first baby swimming class, but you don’t have to and I promise that you will love it once you get over those nerves.