Saturday, 18 August 2012
So, you marvelled at the youtube clips of newborns underwater, but what are the benefits of taking your baby for a dip in the local pool?
Remember those baking hot summer afternoons when you didn’t know what to do with yourself? The slide in the local park was too hot to play on and iced lollies were only a fleeting distraction. That was when my mum would gather up our swimming things and whisk us off to the local lido. We loved it, especially when she invited a friend and her kids along too. True, we were too little to think about swimming as exercise,but we had fun and that was the point.
On a practical level, it gave my sister and me a love of water and – eventually – a lifesaving skill. As adults, we both swim and, while it’s admittedly more of a challenge now that we have our own small children, we’ve both enjoyed introducing our babies to water…
For mums, dads and even active grandparents, taking your baby or toddler swimming can be a great way of getting closer and storing up happy memories. The skin-to-skin contact and reassurance babies get from you as you gently support and play with them, first in the bath, then, once you’re confident you can both handle it, the pool, is vital to helping them develop a healthy attitude to water; while even slightly older children are sure to need you close at hand in the pool for confidence.
‘It’s a great way to bond with your child,’ says Kate Evans, a qualified Accident and Emergency doctor and mum of two who works as a swimming instructor for Water Babies. ‘You’re at their eye level in the water and you’re having fun together away from the stresses of home, worries about sleep, and so on.’ What’s more, it’s sociable as it brings you into contact with other parents of young children.
‘Very young babies can’t do much activity on dry land, but swimming gives them total freedom,’ says Laura Molloy, baby swimming instructor and founder of Swimbabes, which offers lessons for babies up to 18 months in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Oldham, Manchester. ‘People are often surprised at what they can do. They can kick their legs, splash, paddle while supported, reach for things and swim underwater.’
I’m scared of water!
So what if you’re a mum or dad who doesn’t have that confidence? Around ten million adults in the UK can’t swim and many are scared of water. Kate Longthorn was one. She enrolled her son Thomas for baby-swimming lessons when he was five months old. ‘I wanted to him to have the confidence I didn’t have as a child, but the first time we went I had butterflies in my tummy,’ she admits. Kate took Thomas to Puddle Ducks, which uses small pools with warm water and it doesn’t matter if parents can’t swim as the water is shallow.
Do your homework
Huggies disposable swim pants
Floating magnetic bath buddies
Fun swim kit
After swim shampoo
Photography by Zena Holloway www.zenaholloway.com
Written by Sarah Poulton