Many parents may be averse to introducing their new baby to swimming before they can even walk or talk; understandably the risks associated with water may seem daunting when you spend every waking moment keeping your baby safe and happy.
However, in the right environment and with the correct attitude, swimming can become a wonderful learning experience for your new baby, and a pleasurable bonding time for you both. Swimming gives your baby a unique sensory experience, the freedom to move and develop confidence in the water that will last a lifetime.
If you are feeling slightly apprehensive about taking baby swimming, here are my top tips to prepare you both for the new adventure:
1. Bath time.
You can prepare your baby for its first dip in the water during bath time. Let him or her become accustomed to the feel of water on their body, and they will undoubtedly respond with much enthusiasm. Babies love the feeling of freedom and buoyancy that water gives them. He or she will no doubt splash and kick until you’re both soaking wet. The first hurdle is already over.
2. Find a suitable class.
Your baby needs to be introduced to swimming in a calm and reassuring atmosphere – the chaos and hubbub of the local pool during public swimming hours will no doubt overwhelm their senses and intimidate them. Instead find a class dedicated to baby and toddler swimming sessions. It will be much more relaxed and the instructor will be able to guide you and baby in your progress, and you will have the opportunity to meet new parents and babies too.
3. Plan ahead
As you will probably have found with most every day activities, what used to be a simple process suddenly becomes a logistical nightmare when trying to juggle a baby. This can be avoided at the swimming pool if you plan ahead and get changed into your bathing suit before you leave the house. Then all you need to do is quickly take your top layer of clothes off, and you can focus on having a lovely time with baby instead of worrying about where to put them whilst you get changed. Most changing rooms will have facilities suitable, but if you’re there with lots of other mums for a class you may have to wait a while to use them.
4. Keep calm.
The first time you enter the water with your baby will no doubt be nerve-wracking for you as a parent, but don’t let your baby see this. Children learn from their parents reactions, and if he or she sees that you are tense and anxious it may cause them to become afraid. Soothe and encourage them as you enter the water, this is a big step and they will need your support and reassurance. Soon enough you will both be confident, and you will soon be looking forward to your next swimming session together.
It is amazing how fast your baby will progress, and the skills gained will stay with them forever. Make the most of this wonderful bonding experience and you will have a little splasher in no time!
About the author
Olivia is a well-known writer on all things baby and toddler related. She recommends http://www.puddleducks.com/ to parents looking for baby and toddler swimming classes.