P1 has hypermobility and despite our lack of trying and attending parent and toddler lessons, then lessons in a group, she hasn’t really progressed in her swimming ability. That’s ok. For her it’s something that will be a gradual and slow learning experience. But the important thing is that she gets into the habit of being in the water.
Huggies have launched a campaign called “Start A Habit That Lasts A Lifetime” and is aimed to encourage parents to introduce swimming from an early age. Former competitive swimmer and Training & Development Manager of Swimming Nature says:
By taking your little one swimming from an early age, it increases their confidence in the water which means they are safer.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen P1 grow in confidence despite the lack of real swimming being done. P2 is a prime example of the confidence building. P2 has always been terrified of water, right from birth, regular readers will know the struggles and heart ache it’s caused us to watch her scream whenever it’s bathtime. We decided to introduce her to the swimming pool early. She was about 4 months old and her first swimming experience was the first time she’d ever not cried with water involved. Up until recently, it’s followed a clear pattern, she loves swimming but hates baths. Now, at 19 months old, she jumps from the edge of the pool into our arms, she’ll put water over her hair whether in the bath or in the pool and she actually enjoys water.
Swimming isn’t just about building water confidence though. There’s a whole array of benefits. Did you know that swimming is the only life skill you can teach before a baby can walk, talk or even crawl!! Swimming is physically challenging helping to promote muscle control, balance and coordination which in turn helps sleep by wearing your baby out. It also works up a fantastic appetite, I used to get treated to a McDonalds straight after my swimming lessons as I was so hungry! The bond between parent and baby whilst in the water becomes strong and when swimming with a group it will promote social interactions.
When I first went swimming as a new mum it was a daunting experience. It was stressful and I was unorganised. Over the years I’ve learnt some fantastic tips to get you through a swimming trip, whether a new parent or going along with three or four. Here they are;
- Before potty training age, always pack at least two Huggies Little Swimmers Disposable swim nappies per child. I personally am yet to experience a “poop in the pool” but I wouldn’t go swimming without my Little Swimmers. They feature a stretchy side panel to give full range of movement in the water, a unique absorbent material which doesn’t expand in water and a leak guard for those poop moments.
- Always pack two towels for baby and one for you. Wrap baby in the first towel as soon as you leave the pool. If you can remove swimming costume but not nappy at this point. Then when inside the changing room you can take nappy off and wet towel and wrap baby inside the dry one to remove any further moisture. Place baby on a Huggies Hygiene Mat. I wish these were around when P1 was a baby because they are just simply awesome! They are made from a cushioned and non-slip material that can be machine washed and easily packed away in a waterproof bag. These are great for older children too and stop contact with any yucky germs lurking in the changing rooms.
- Always pack a snack. Make sure you leave 1-2hours since the last meal before you go swimming, this will mean baby/toddler/child/grown up will be extremely hungry after swimming and will turn into a monster. For young babies, make sure you have milk ready or conveniently packed so that after baby is dressed it’s the nearest thing you can grab.
- I tend to get dressed first. It sounds a little selfish but once baby is wrapped in a dry towel, you can really quickly get yourself dried and dressed. Then you are able to dress baby and give them their snack/milk without making them damp. It’s a skill you learn the more swimming trips you do. Make sure you are wearing minimal clothing, the bags are packed in a certain way so that when you go back to them and you’re wet, the towels are first, then clothes and then shoes.
Swimming makes everyone tired. With any luck you’ll get a little bit of a longer nap from baby and be able to chill yourself or even catch up on your own sleep. The important thing is that you take your baby regularly and from an early age. It’s not true what they say about waiting until they’ve had their immunisations, if you’re brave enough, you can go from birth.
Have fun with your baby enjoy the special bonding experience that swimming offers.
(We were sent a pack of Little Swimmers and a Hygiene Mat for the purpose of this post. All opinions and photos are of my own. Unfortunately we were unable to take photos at the swimming pool so improvised at home where P2 enjoyed posing)