I love being in, on or under the water so taking our little man swimming from an early age has always been a priority, especially given my job is focused on promoting safety around the water. Having a non-swimmer is not an option!
Most people wait until after the eight week jabs before taking children for their first dip, although these days the risk of going earlier is minimal unless the local pool is renowned for outbreaks of polio. Immunisations aside, if you are anything like me its unlikely you’ll feel up to a pool trip much before two months anyway as the combination of limited sleep, non-stop visitors and a crying baby will probably get in the way.
Like the majority of people we did indeed wait eight weeks before taking baby M for his first ‘swimming lesson’ and decided on a local provider called Individuality who operate around Poole. We’d researched a few different local options as there is plenty of choice, but their schedule worked best for us as I can work around a midweek afternoon session that allows me to get more hands on with daddy day care.
Start in the Bath
Before his first lesson we’d been preparing him with baths from around week two, always getting in with him and encouraging him to splash around and get comfortable in the water. Whether or not this helped is debatable but I was just desperate to avoid being the Dad with a screamer during lesson one!
As you can imagine the kit required for baby swimming mostly revolves around keeping any surprise brown fish under wraps and not escaping into the pool like a moment from Free Willy. We settled on a fairly standard swim nappy that doesn’t look much different to a normal Pampers apart from the price and pictures of fish on the outside. We combined the swim nappy with a fetching pair of elasticated red shark Speedos.
My wife and I accompanied baby M into the pool where we were greeted by our friendly instructor who showed us how to hold him properly in the water so as not to drown him. Then we had to pull him back and forth across the pool to get used to the water.
He was the youngest there by at least three months so got lots of oooo’s and ahhhh’s from the other mums as he look very puzzled at what was going on. He took in all in through looking around and obviously felt the drop in temperature compared to the 37 degree baths he’d become accustomed to!
The 30 minute session was split between time on their back and front to get used to the idea of turning in the water, singing and splash time with the other kids, and my favourite part…dunking!
Dunk the Baby???
Now considering this was his first ever lesson I wasn’t sure if he’d be too young for underwater action but apparently not. Little over ten minutes into the lesson we were shown how to safely dunk him under the water by first blowing in his face to encourage a breath hold, before quickly dunking under the water for a second or two.
Now this isn’t something I’d recommend without experts on hand but it was amazing to see my little lad emerge from under the water with a bemused look on his face as if to say “what the hell have you just done to me Dad?!” We repeated this twice more and he managed to hold off the tears so in my eyes he’s already a water baby!
After this successful introduction to swimming we’ve already signed up to a block of lessons in the hope that baby M could be the next Michael Phelps, or at the very least will enjoy a swim in the sea with his Daddy and know he’s learnt a vital life skill that could one day save his life. Now you can’t say the same thing about being good at maths.
It’s by far the best father and son bonding time I’ve had yet so far. I’d recommend getting involved and sign up for swimming lessons ASAP!
Can a baby go swimming before vaccinations I hear you ask? The NHS say yes.