Having been a true water baby when I was younger, one of the key priorities for me with my little girl was to make sure she had confidence in the water. During a visit to a baby fair I came across the Waterbabies organisation and was immediately blown away at the prospect of what I could achieve with my daughter and the benefits it would have for her.
Baby swimming is said to significantly improve a child’s development, whilst it also helps boost their confidence . Research highlighting the benefits dates back to Dr Mrytle McGraw’s study in 1939 “Swimming Behaviour in the Human Infant”. More recently a 2010 study conducted by Professor Hermundur Sigmundsson and Professor Brian Hopkins found that baby swimming improved children’s movement and balance significantly in comparison to non swimmers.
Most importantly for me however is the concept that babies who take part in swimming lessons from an early age have a reduced risk of drowning. A case-controlled study conducted by Ruth Brenner discovered that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged one to four years. Surely that’s a good enough reason in itself to hit the swimming pool!?
I signed my daughter up to Waterbabies classes when she was 6 months old and I was thrilled at how well she took to it. The instructors are fully qualified and the idea around the class is to teach us as the parents to teach our babies to swim. There’s a range of exercises and activities that you take part in throughout the class, they include
- Learning how to hold and guide your baby in the water (the different holds change as the course develops and babies confidence grows)
- Control phrases to make sure your child is aware of when a specific activity is going to begin
- Getting used to going under water (from the initial taking them under and back up to more advanced swims under the water)
- Teaching your child to hold onto the side, move along it and climb out
- Fun songs and props such as balls, rubber ducks / fish, tubes and floats
The first entry level was split into four terms and we completed all of them. However unfortunately my little girl suffered what they call “The Wobbles” for the last term and a half. The wobbles are said to happen when they are going through a key development period (for us it was learning to stand / walk), for whatever reason she got upset every time we used the control phrases and as a result we generally weren’t able to complete many of the under-water activities. It was probably added to by the fact that we also went through a period of repeat illnesses during this period so that will have obviously made her not particularly keen too and we did miss some lessons because of this. As a result we have decided to hold off doing the next level as we feel we have missed so much.
Despite not continuing with specific lessons at this stage I am definitely going to continue to take my daughter swimming on my own and once I am sure the wobbles have gone I will look to certainly sign her back up to lessons.
I would still recommend Waterbabies to anyone.
- The course covers a wide range of skills and takes things gradually
- There are demonstrations ahead of every class member having the opportunity to try the new skill / activity and with direct support of the instructor.
- the songs, toys, floats etc make it great fun and interactive
- There’s a lot of support from the Waterbabies team out of the pool too
- Some people may think it is going a little too slow at times but I think you have to remember that they are babies and it takes time for them to learn and develop new skills, rushing them and overloading them won’t help.
- The rate per lesson can seem expensive
- There is a strong non refund policy so if your child is sick (like our daughter was) you can lose out on quite a bit of money
But I still signed up for four terms so these points obviously didn’t make that much of a difference! The positives by far outweigh these negatives.
The experience and skills you can give your child are invaluable.
The International Life Saving Federation states that “The best scientific evidence has taught us that 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year, that is more than two persons per minute. From that more than 50 percent are children. All over the world, infants and toddlers drown more frequently than people at any other age. Inadequate supervision, an inability to swim, and lack of barriers separating toddlers from pools and other water are the main causes of drownings of small children.”
With that in mind baby swimming is one of the most invaluable things I have done with my daughter, whether she’s having or had the wobbles, she has still gained so much from it already and if I can teach her a life saving skill then I am a happy mummy.
To find out more about the benefits of baby swimming and classes why not follow some of my links below. There’s also a link to Splashabout, an essential link to a range of products to keep baby, happy and content in the water. Happy Splashing!: