When I became a Mum the first time around there were many changes in my life and I’m not just talking about the ones where I had to actually figure out what I was doing! I was suddenly at home full-time and finding myself having to budget being on maternity pay and it was all a bit of a shock to the system. I was used to having my own money and used to mainly spending it on myself and my home. So when my pay switched to much less which then decreased month after month I had to make sacrifices in my own life and careful choices in regards to what activities or days out we did.
This is going somewhere, I promise!
Swimming was one area that I chose to scrimp on. I decided that baby swimming lessons weren’t a necessity and that they were far too expensive for us to justify at the time. Instead, I chose to take Jake every week to a public swimming pool in order to allow him to fall in love with the water, to enjoy it and I was hoping it would just come.
I was right in the fact that he fell in love the water but unfortunately, his confidence never came and we are now at the point of having a five-year-old who is terrified of being in a pool without any buoyancy aids or help from one of us. And guess where this has left us? Investing in swimming lessons!
Which you can read about here.
So, when baby number 2 came along, the first lot of classes I instantly thought about were swimming lessons. I knew I didn’t want to be in the same position again in a few years time and I also knew that having 2 children who lacked confidence in the water was going to be very risky if I ever took them both swimming together or when we went on holidays.
If you have followed my blog for a while you will know that we were very fortunate to be selected as 2018’s Turtle Tots Ambassadors. We began our lessons in the summer term and William has now successfully completed 2 courses and is already enrolled on the next. I have documented our journey so far which you can feel free look back over but what I wanted to highlight in this article are the benefits that come with taking your baby to swimming lessons, both what we have learnt first-hand and also what has been scientifically documented.
So here goes…
The Benefits of Baby Swimming
A weekly swimming lesson will start building their water confidence from an early age. The routine will become familiar, the fun in the lessons aid in building this confidence and it will become an activity that they will learn to love. William is now happy to have water splashed on his face, he finds all the activities great fun and going under the water is not an issue for him.
This follows on nicely from my first point. Once your baby becomes more confident in the water they will learn exactly what they need to do in order to remain safe in the event of an accident. The first important things a baby is taught is holding onto the side of the pool using the words hold on, hold on as cues, being made to feel safe going underneath and returning to the surface and feeling happy to be on their front as well as their backs. As William progresses through his lessons I know he will have these life-saving skills instilled in him. This is a huge benefit as it lifts such a weight of worry from me.
Builds Muscle and Strength
As a Mum of a preemie baby, development, movement, coordination and so on were all areas which I had concerns about. At 8 weeks premature, we knew he had a bit of a journey in front of him to catch up but we have been left surprised again and again by him. He has grown, learnt, developed and shown such strength in such a short space of time and swimming has just come so naturally to him. He seemed at ease in the water from his very first bath and once in the pool, he continued to show that it didn’t faze him. The movements in the water have helped to build up his muscle and strength and I do wonder if starting swimming lessons so early have been a huge benefit in helping him to crawl and stand much sooner?
As your baby’s body is predominantly supported by the water they can focus their attention on working on their balance. The actions they use in a swimming lesson enable the whole body and they will begin to acknowledge how everything feels, moves and works. This can even help them in learning to walk more quickly. A Norweigan study that was carried out in 2010 has shown that swimmers have better balance over babies who do not swim.
Not only does swimming help to develop your baby’s strength externally it can also do so internally with the heart and lungs greatly benefitting. Just another reason it is a fantastic activity for my premature baby.
After doing quite a bit of research on this topic I was really surprised when I stumbled across the findings from a study in 2009 by The Griffith University in Australia. They embarked on a four year Early Years Swimming Research Project with 45 swim schools across Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. Their results showed that children, under the age of 5, involved in learning to swim were not only more advanced in their cognitive and physical development than their non-swimming peers but they were also far better at maths problems. The belief is that the early exposure to these sensory and motor stimulations help the brain to develop and statistically their IQs were actually higher all thanks to learning to swim from an early age.
One of the best parts about our swimming lessons is the fact that we do them together. It is a great way to bond with him further, to allow him to build up that trust in me, to have fun in a different setting and to gain more skin to skin contact. Each lesson heavily involves touch, cuddles, kisses and celebration of their achievements, which makes it all that more enjoyable.
We all want our babies to sleep, don’t we?! Well, after a 30-minute lesson, William is well and truly zonked. He has a nice long nap and then is very chilled for the rest of the day because he’s had this exercise and brilliant stimulation. He is always easier to get to go to bed that night too. Perfect!
When you stay at home with a baby, a routine can all so often completely go out the window. You go from being used to getting up for work, spending the majority of the day performing routine tasks in your workplace, having set times for certain jobs, to having each day free from any set tasks, other than feeding, playing, changing nappies, bath and bed. When all of this stops you can feel at a bit of a loss. You have to now think about how to fill your days, you need to push yourself to go to those groups and a lot of it can be very daunting; new people, new places, trying to make new friends, it isn’t always easy. With classes like swimming, you usually have to pay for a term upfront. What I particularly like about doing this is that it forces me to go even on those off days when I feel like I could just sit indoors all day watching TV. It also provides me with a routine each week which I really look forward to. I now have my timings down so I know how long I have to get ready, what time I need to be out the door by, how quickly we can both get changed etc. This honestly helps so much with keeping my mind active as well as helping with my mental health. It can be so easy to get stuck in a rut of not doing anything but when you set yourself up to committing to lessons it really does help in keeping you active and busy.
If you choose just one activity to fork out for I would highly recommend swimming lessons for your baby. I am so glad that we’ve done them this time around and very happy that it has now encouraged us to get lessons for Jake too.
Have you noticed any of the benefits of baby swimming in your own child? Let me know in the comments.
We are currently swimming with Turtle Tots Surrey and North Hampshire so if you are in this area please do check them out.
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