Mum Word Review:
Water Babies Swimming Classes
There are a lot of classes you can do with your kids, some are great fun, others can make you want to dig your eyes out with a spoon (and wonder where your life has got to an Incy-Wincey bit), then there are others that help teach your kids a skill that might just save their life.
Woah. Apologies if that sounds a bit dramatic, I think my toddler may be rubbing off on me! But teaching my kids to swim really was that important to me. So, finding a good class with great teachers and a company that has a track record of teaching kids how to swim was pretty important too. And, for me, that was Water Babies.
I recently started with my youngest, Roar, when he was three months old. We’ve just finished Chapter 1, and they asked me to do a review of our experience so far. We’ve come a long way from our first class, in three months Roar has become happy and confident in the pool and is even able to swim on his own underwater! Just like the baby on the Nevermind album sleeve (I'm a 90’s kid!)... but how did we get there?
Honestly? The first class was terrifying, largely because it was the first time I’d put my post-partum body in a swimming costume and, secondly, you feel a little like you’re being thrown in at the deep end. From the very first day you’re encouraged to do underwater swims with your baby. It seems torturous; until you remember they’ve been happily swimming about in your placenta for nine months. Babies instinctively hold their breath underwater until they're around six months, which is why it’s a great idea to start teaching them how to swim when they’re young.
Plus, whilst it might feel like the teacher is diving in to the hard stuff right at the beginning, it's progressive. Each class gently takes you through a number of skills and drills; like getting your wee one used to water on their face and the buzz phrase ‘Name (their name, not just 'name'!*). Ready. Go’! (which you say every time when they get splashed or go into the water) before you fully dunk them under.
You gradually build on these, so although you do an underwater swim in the first class, it’s really short and you’re holding on to them at all times. The following week it’s a little longer and then, as everyone feels more comfortable in the water, you move towards letting go. Just like Elsa.
Along with teaching baby to swim, safety skills are also a priority. One trick you teach the littles is how to hold on to the side of the pool. If you think this sounds a stroke too far for a baby who’s just a few months old, I kid you not, Roar is already responding to me telling him to ‘hold on, hold on, hold on’. It’s not just that he’s a genius (pretty sure he is though, obviously) but ALL the babies in our class have managed to grasp this skill one way or another.
We have been taught by Sarah, who manages to make even the most bricking it mum (me) feel relaxed. I know it’s meant to be all about baby but if the carer is nervous the kid is going to soak that up too, which is one of the reasons I think this is more than just a swimming class.
That said, let’s address the elephant in the pool; no not that - that’s what swim nappies are for! This is an expensive class. It’s also marginally more expensive than some of the other companies that do swimming classes, so is it really worth splashing your cash?
I honestly think so, I have a two and a half year old who is now in Chapter 10. We’ve been swimming together (with Sarah) since she was a newborn too. She can now swim independently without arm bands or swim aids. If she falls into the pool, she knows how to get to the edge and hold on to the side and try to get herself to safety. I would never leave her unattended, of course, but these skills make me feel more confident of her around water. Which, as we live in Scotland, it pretty essential!
The classes are the highlight of mine and my kid's week. We spend a lot of time looking into each others eyes during it (sorry if you just puked in your cuppa) and I think it has helped to build trust between us, which is another reason it's different from other kinds of class. It’s totally immersive.
This blog and the accompanying vlog (have a watch to see Roar’s underwater photoshoot swim, which is included in your first term below) might sound a wee bit like I’m a PR person for Water Babies, I’m not, they asked me to review Chapter 1 but I have returned as a customer to this class (and this company) term after term because it’s genuinely really good.
No question: we’re hooked, and will definitely be back next term.
*In my sleep deprived state in the early days, I may have called Roar 'name'. Whoops.
**I was gifted our first term as payment for this review.