I’ve been going to Water Babies swimming lessons with my little boy (who has just turned one) for a few months now and thought it was time to share a review of what we’ve been up to – together with top ten benefits of baby swimming below…
The Water Babies journey goes from 0-5 years old but you can dip in (pun not intended…) at any time. The journey is divided into ‘chapters’ and each chapter has its own goals and age-appropriate activities. So chapter one is for tiny babies and so on. We started in chapter 4 and are now merrily swimming through (sorry another one!) chapter 5.
Each class is 30 minutes which doesn’t sound very long, but is plenty given how tiring it is for the little ones (I almost always get a mega nap out of my son afterwards). There’s a little group of us who have been going to the same classes for a while and it’s lovely to have that social side around the lessons, chatting in the changing room before and after classes.
Our teacher is absolutely lovely, really fun, and so good with the kids. She leads us through songs and little activities and keeps the little ones engaged and happy. Each activity has its own big waterproof card which she holds up to help explain to us and the babies what we are doing.
My favourite is when we get the babies to surf (on their tummies) on a float and sing Hawaii 5-0 – somehow just so fun! There are always lots of toys to base the activities around – like balls which the babies chase across the ball, encouraging them to stretch out their arms and kick their legs, little ‘sinky toys’ which they can collect from just under the water, and we also love it when the massive jelly mat float comes out – all the babies sit on it for ‘row row your boat’ and ‘jelly on the plate’. Over time they will learn to stand on it to help develop their sea legs! There’s also little mirrors, noodles, and much more.
There are lots of swimming and safety skills being taught in amongst the fun – like holding onto the side, climbing out of the pool and going underwater. There’s also ‘Bubba school’ to work on more general skills like sorting colours and counting. All the sessions are well thought out and structured and the time flies by.
We absolutely love the lessons and I’ve noticed my son’s confidence in the water coming on so much. We haven’t done swimming lessons with my older child and I now really wish we had because I can see the enjoyment my younger one gets from the water already. It’s also very bonding because you cannot be distracted by anything else (housework, phone, chatting, etc). For those 30 minutes, it’s just you and your baby enjoying each other’s company and learning one of life’s most important skills.
Baby & Toddler Swimming…What’s it all about? What are the benefits?
With the summer holidays on the way there is no better time to start your swimming journey with your little one and there are countless benefits to getting your little one into the water as soon as you can. Here are our top 10 reasons why we believe baby swimming is an exciting, enriching experience for everyone involved. Not only does it teach vital life saving skills, but it also enhances the way babies and toddlers learn other skills too, whilst having lots of fun:
1. It teaches water safety: Tragically, drowning is the third-biggest cause of accidental death among children under 5 in the UK. Learning to get to the side, hold on, get out and/or swim could save your child’s life one day, so at Water Babies we teach vital safety techniques from birth.
2. It’s great for their physical and mental health: With childhood obesity levels still worryingly high, swimming is a great way of getting little ones exercising from a young age. Each Water Babies lesson provides a complete physical work-out, strengthening your baby’s heart and lungs and in turn aiding development of the brain — including stimulating all 5 senses (taste, smell, touch, sight and sound). And with each lesson burning up to 300 calories, you’ll get a work-out, too!
3. It promotes bonding: Skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between you and your little one – and with mums still generally having the most bonding opportunities, swimming is a fantastic way for dads to spend some precious one-to-one time with their babies.
4. It boosts confidence: Introducing children to water at a very young age helps prevent a fear of water developing later. Exercises that involve moving independently in water and holding on to the side are wonderful for your baby’s confidence². Many parents also find that handling their baby in water is great for them, too — especially if they’re anxious about water or can’t swim. You’ll be so proud of what your baby can do!
5. It develops their co-ordination: Being in the water helps improve co-ordination and balance, and learning to swim with toys will help your little one’s co-ordination and motor skills. A 2009 study by the Norwegian University of Science & Technology found that babies who swim have better balance and can grasp objects more easily¹ than non-swimmers.
6. It builds their strength: Buoyancy and water-resistance mean that babies exercise more muscles, more effectively, in water than on land. Finnish research showed that swimming babies crawled later but walked earlier, thanks to their excellent muscle control.
7. It develops their learning skills: Responding to repetitive voice commands can sharpen your baby’s mental skills and increase their levels of understanding. A German study found that swimming babies had advanced motor development, social skills and intelligence² than non-swimmers. The Early Years Swimming Project at Griffith University found that by the time they start school, children who swim in the early years are ahead of non-swimmers by 6 to 15 months when it comes to solving maths problems, counting, language and following instructions.
8. It enhances their wellbeing: Warm water relaxes your baby, and swimming stimulates their appetite; for you, the good news is improved sleeping and eating patterns!
9. It provides structure: Weekly swimming classes contribute to structuring your week and your day, providing a regular fun and social activity (and, just possibly, a little sanity…)
10. You’re never too young to start swimming: Even the NHS agrees! You don’t need to wait until your baby has had his or her vaccinations before they go swimming (even underwater).
For more information about Water Babies check out their featured listing here! Water Babies runs so many classes in Oxford that only Chapter One lessons are listed, but you can get in touch with them for full listings.
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