Yesterday we finished our Water babies Chapter 1 baby swimming lessons with our amazing underwater photoshoot, so whilst it’s all fresh in my mind I thought I’d sit down this morning with a coffee in hand and write all about our experience as first timers at Water babies swimming lessons. There is so much information and that I want to share, so this might be a long one, but if you are interested in baby swimming lessons (or just love cute pictures of Violet in the water), stick with me as hopefully this will be an ‘everything you need to know’ guide to help you decide whether Water Babies is right for you and to hear all about our experience.
Going to our Water babies swimming class is one of my favourite activities of the week. I look forward to each lesson and thoroughly enjoy every moment. It’s really lovely to have that set time to do something together we both enjoy. The bonding experience, smiles and connection we have during the lesson is just second to none. Plus, the change in Violet’s confidence in the water over the last few weeks has been just amazing to watch too, so it goes without saying this is going to be a super positive review of our experience.
WHY TAKE YOUR BABY SWIMMING
For us, we really wanted to take Violet swimming to help her gain confidence in the water for her own safety. Learning to swim is obviously fun too but ultimately when we signed up we had safety in mind – we wanted her to know what to do if she fell into the water and be able to help herself if the worst were to happen. Safety aside though, there are loads of other reasons to take your baby swimming too, such as:
- Good for babies health
- Boosts hand-eye coordination
- They are so relaxed and sleepy afterwards
- Meet other babies and parents
- Confidence in water
- Helps build a routine
- Babies love swimming
- It’s really fun!
BEFORE THE COURSE
When you sign up for your Water babies course the first thing that happens is you’ll receive a pack in the post with all the information you will need to start your lessons. This also contains a sweet Water babies Journey book which you keep with you through your entire journey – it includes important milestones, space to stick photos and lots of stickers so it’s fully interactive for little ones too. You also get a helpful bath thermometer (that we call the ‘bath shark’ and use daily, it even came on holiday with us) and car window blind, so you get a couple of little handy freebies too.
Equipment-wise, all you’ll need to buy is a packet of swim nappies and a ‘Happy Nappy‘ which is like a little neoprene pair of shorts to cover the nappy and make sure no accidents happen in the pool! Pack your own cozzie and two towels and you are ready to go!
LESSON 1: WHAT TO EXPECT
When we first booked onto the course, I really didn’t know what to expect. Arriving and getting into the pool, I did feel pretty apprehensive, especially when our teacher Mel, said Violet would be swimming underwater on her first session!
Saying that, on your first lesson everything starts very gently – your teacher will hold your little one whilst you get into the pool for the first time, there is no negotiating slippery wet steps and holding your baby. It sounds like a small thing, but that was something I was quite nervous about! Before the course, I kept thinking about dropping her, so that took a weight off my mind.
Once in the water, we introduced ourselves and everyone had to say what they hoped they’d get from the lessons. We then learned some of the famous Water babies songs (which will get stuck in your head for DAYS after each lesson – trust me!) and just enjoyed seeing our babies splashing around in the water for the first time.
I think my heart raced out of my chest when we did that first underwater swim, but I was clearly more worked up than Violet as she smiled soon afterwards.
Here is a video from one of Violet’s really early underwater swims, look how tiny she is!
As Violet was so small when we first took her to her class (10 weeks and less than 10lbs) we would find she’d get tired after about 20 minutes and usually have a cry during the last 10 minutes of the lesson. This is totally normal, especially for smaller babies as a new environment and all these new activities is a lot for them to take in, so don’t worry about being embarrassed if your little one cries at first, the teachers are totally used to it and will adjust the lesson to suit your baby – (i.e they won’t have to keep swimming underwater if they are tired and don’t want to do it!) You can do as much or as little of the lesson as you want and although we never took her out during the session for a feed, I did see other parents doing that so thats totally ok too.
PROGRESSING THROUGH THE COURSE
One of the things we loved about Water Babies is that everything is progressive – so everything you learn in each lesson builds upon previous sessions. The foundation of the lesson is the same, with the same songs to keep things familiar for your little one but each week new skills are introduced gradually, building upon these all the way. This means both baby and parent feel comfortable with what they’re doing, learning all the way.
This gradual learning system really worked for us as Violet was quite unsettled at the start of the course, so working on each of the skills in a gentle, gradual way really helped her to gain confidence in the water and build up her stamina in each lesson over time, without having an adverse affect of doing too much and making her dislike swimming or being in the water.
One of the main things every Water Babies lesson will feature is doing ‘name, ready, go’ with your little one. This is where you hold your baby in your arms and after the word ‘go’ scoop up a handful of water and pour it over their head three times. This is an essential part of getting them used to the water and ready to swim underwater and something we practiced a lot at home too. Not only has this helped with swimming but washing her hair at home is now a breeze with this technique too!
Another really important safety skill you learn on the course is to ‘Hold On’ where little ones are taught to hold onto the side or a rail with both hands – I thought that with this one she wasn’t really understanding it to begin with as you just hold their hands onto the side for them, but towards the end of the course, you start to take your knee away (that is supporting them underneath) and I realised she is actually holding on herself – I also swam past the rail at the pool at the gym with Violet (we go once a week to practice at our local gym pool) and she automatically tried to hold onto the rail – I was so impressed! You don’t realise but all of these skills are going in, babies pick up so much!
We also learned about the right way to get in and out of the pool, teaching babies to splash off the side off the pool and swimming on their back – just to name a few skills. There are also fun activities with mirrors, bubbles and colourful (plastic!) fish which Violet absolutely loves,there are smiles all round when the fish come out!
Of course, when you talk about baby swimming lessons everyone thinks about swimming underwater, whether that is in a positive, excited way or whether it’s something to be apprehensive about. I was honestly both and still after 10 weeks my heart flutters as Violet goes under the water but that is totally normal and I’m sure I’m not alone with that. The good thing is, the underwater swims build over the course, going from just a second under the water to moving swims and then towards the end of the course you do release swims – where you actually let your little one go under the water! These are really cool as you get to go under and watch them swimming underwater yourself – seeing Violet swimming underwater was just magical to see! If this all sounds daunting – don’t worry – your teacher will be by your side the whole time and it’s completely guided. They also won’t swim babies that are too tired, crying or hiccuping for safety so don’t worry they won’t take your baby to swim underwater unless they are totally ready for it.
At the end of Chapter 1 we received a badge to sew onto Violet’s towel and I was so proud of her – I remember getting badges as a child and remember how special they were to me, now my baby is collecting them too!
During Violet’s first chapter at Water Babies, we were able to take part in their annual Splashathon event. This is basically a sponsored swim, where little ones dress as superheroes and swim a width of the pool. Violet dressed as Wonder Woman and raised nearly £200 for Tommy’s Charity – here is a little video of her first ever sponsored swim:
The cost of a 10 week chapter, including a place on the professional underwater photo shoot (pictures are extra), is £160. Ok, I’ll admit it – Water Babies is not the cheapest of activities you could do with your baby. If I’m totally honest it’s pretty damn expensive and the cost does make me wince just slightly – but now we have experience of our first chapter I cannot stress enough that is is honestly worth every penny. We LOVE it. Our lesson is the highlight to our week – we leave singing the songs all the way home and on a real high. I’ve also seen Violet’s confidence in water and stamina increase so much over the last couple of months it’s incredible, bath time has totally changed for us, she doesn’t mind water on her head/face and I was so impressed she tried to hold onto the side of the pool on her own too – just shows how much she’s been learning. If anything were to happen to her I hope we’ve given her the foundations of the skills she’ll need to help herself – god forbid anything happens but you need to think about these things. Can you put a price on that? Not really.
I’m sure it’s clear from this post that we’ve loved our Water Babies experience so far. Although I was asked to review lessons in Chapter 1, we have booked into Chapter 2 and decided to continue with our lessons as we’ve loved it so much. We’ve made a little group of friends too – setting up a ‘Water babies Whatsapp group’ where we will organise a beach BBQ to get all the parents and babies together over the summer holidays.
One of the things that really made it for me were how comfortable our teacher Mel made us all feel – Violet was so unsettled in the early stages of the course and she picked up on this and offered a couple of a extra sessions for her to get her confidence up. She also gauged each lesson which underwater swims she’d cope with and tailor it totally to her needs. That extra care really went a long way as by the end of the course Violet is doing all of her swims and loving all parts of the lessons. Mel is a fantastic, friendly and enthusiastic teacher, you can’t help but smile in the lessons she really does know how to lift everyones spirits and make everyone feel totally at ease.
Lastly, just watching Violet grow and gain confidence has got to be the winner. She loves water and nothing phases her, she smiles when we blow bubbles in the water and has started to splash the surface of the water with her hands and watch how it falls when you pour it from your hand. She’s so intrigued and at home in the water which is exactly what we were aiming for, plus we had a fantastic time getting to this point too.
So, I’ll end this mammoth Water Babies post here with a BIG thank you to the Water Babies team, with a special shout out to our wonderful teacher Mel for having us for Chapter 1. We look forward to seeing you in September to carry on our journey!
Also, don’t forget I’ll be sharing our Underwater Snaps in the next few weeks too, so look out for that post soon!
I was offered to take part in Chapter 1 swimming lessons free of charge in return of an honest and open review – all words and opinions are my own