So we took Henry to his first swimming class last week and he absolutely loved it, well he didn't cry so I am guessing he liked it as much as us. It is something myself and my husband have talked about doing before he was born, we both learnt to swim really early on, he was 2 and I was 3 and as I lived in Cyprus and being in the sea daily, was a highly valuable skill to have early on.
He LOVES bathtime so we knew we had to enrol him. On his first lesson he was getting used to the water and floating and he just seemed so calm. Next weeks lesson we get to dunk him under water which I am excited for as I've seen videos and pictures of babies underwater and it seems magical.
Babies just love swimming as they have a real familiarity in the water after spending 9 months floating about in our wombs in warm water, which is what they get in these classes (FYI all babies under 6 months learn in a heated pool).whilst they are really young they will enjoy this and if left too long can (but not always) lead to a fear, so the earlier the better.
The classes aren't just straight up swim lessons but have songs and games for babies to have fun and bond with the parent. I decided to let my husband go in the pool with Henry and I would just watch as I get all day with him and thought thus would be great baby/daddy bonding time. I literally beamed the entire lesson watching them, especially the bit when babies had to keep rotating to kiss daddy (this teaches them to turn around to look for help)
According to Waterbabies there are several benefits to learning to swim from a young age:
It teaches water safety
It’s great for their physical and mental health
It promotes bonding
It boosts confidence
It develops their co-ordination
It builds their strength
It develops their learning skills
It enhances their wellbeing
It provides structure
You can start from birth
If you are worried about baby swallowing loads of water DON'T BE, the laryngeal reflex (more commonly known as the gag reflex) kicks in where a baby will instinctively hold his breath, avoiding water inhalation in response to the sensation of feeling water on his face, nose, throat and voice box. But in these classes, from the first lesson, the babies are taught to hold their own breath, so with Henry and the other babies we had them facing us and said 'Henry, 1 2 3' and then took a big breath before pouring a cup of water over his head. So in time he will learn to copy up and hold his own breath. Obviously early days but a good base to build on as he is already at the stage of copying our face expressions.
For information on classes in your area these are the best 2 sites I have found that run classes throughout the UK. Puddle Ducks (where I go) and Waterbabies.
For these classes all babies are required to wear swimming nappies (I highly recommend Huggies Little Swimmers) AND a Happy Nappy over the top to seal in any leakages.
I really cannot wait for the next session and to see his little smiles when he goes in the water again.