Although I took BB swimming regularly when she was a baby it didn’t occur to me to look into anything more structured until I was asked to write a piece about baby swimming lessons for Mother & Baby magazine after Little B was born.
There are a host of franchises out there from Water Babies to Puddle Ducks and Little Splashers, all offering pretty much the same thing. We tried out a Puddle Ducks class in Ovingdean, Brighton, which I was sure Little B would love given he was born in water and gets terrible gripe.
When the dreaded griping pains take hold a nice warm bath seems the natural way to soothe him; as soon as he enters the water he stops crying and wreathing around and his tummy, previously as tight as a drum, relaxes.
The prospect of shoe horning myself back into my tankini was daunting: it’s time to face the fact that no amount of oil or stretch mark cream is going to shift my linea nigra any time soon. It resembles a drunken snail trail. Where did Nigella get that burkini, I wonder?
On the upside, I’ve got a chest I can finally be proud of, even if one boob is significantly larger than the other owing to milk supply and both are decorated with angry blue veins, some of which have the audacity to actually stick out.
But it wasn’t about me, it was about Little B, so I pushed all that to the back of my mind and headed to our ‘floaties’ class for babies from birth to six months.
It turned out the name of the class was rather ironic – on the day of our lesson Maxi hadn’t done a number two for three whole days, and having googled the problem it seems ‘relaxing in warm water’ is one of the ways to get things going.
While it would no doubt have made colourful reading, luckily the water didn’t have a laxative effect.
It was such fun! There’s singing, splashing, submerging, and of course lots of floating. At one point I was supporting him just by his head, allowing his body to float freely in the water. It might sound reckless, but all the babies loved it, and one mum told me her baby had actually fallen asleep during the previous lesson.
With the idea being to get babies to love water for life, there is also a chance for them to experience being underwater. This isn’t for the faint hearted, but given that the first time I saw Little B he was totally submerged it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds.
Holding him firmly under his arms and tilted slightly forward so that water didn’t rush up his nose, I counted to three and said his name as a cue, then dunked him under, pulling him through the water for a count of three.
Amazingly none of the babies cried, and I think being immersed in water on a regular basis like this means that if they were ever to fall in somewhere they’re less likely to panic.
As well as introducing building blocks for water safety and spending half an hour in nice warm water together (the pool was a balmy 32 degrees) what I hadn’t bargained for was how much of a bonding experience it would be. We enjoyed skin to skin contact for practically the whole lesson, which was priceless.
Admittedly the lessons aren’t priceless – more’s the pity – but if your baby really loves water I’d say do it if you can. We signed up to the rest of the term and have re-enrolled for summer thanks to the Bank of Granny.
You can read our feature in the April 2015 edition of Mother & Baby magazine.
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