We are so excited to be featured as guest bloggers to share our experiences on why we chose to enrol our children in swimming classes and how they have been getting on!
Both my husband and I (Janet) learned swimming early in life. In the deep end of the pool, I can tread the water, float as well as swim across to a shallower section of the pool.
I believe I learned to swim as part of an extra curriculum high school essential life skills class as a way to conquer my fear of water, so that if I was to fall in the ocean or the deepest end of any pool, I would at least be able to swim to safety.
Aside from safety reasons, over the years, David and I have both enjoyed swimming as a great recreational activity hence why we desire to give our children such necessary life skills to survive in water, as well as expose them to the recreational benefits of swimming.
Swimming is a fun activity that can keep one fit and relax one's muscles. Just google search 'swim aerobics', 'prenatal swim' and much more.
Why did we choose Water Babies?
When I first heard of Water Babies in my area in the UK I was pleasantly surprised. I was happy because this was a fantastic program that could teach our first born how to swim as early as possible. It was quite interesting to realize they recommend babies could start at any time, even at 1 day old! Here is why,
It helps babies:
- To build self-confidence and the ability to learn and play in a structured and guided environment.
- By nurturing discipline in babies as they learn to follow instructions from their parents and teacher during swimming sessions
- To create a unique bond between babies and their parents while they learn to swim either in the pool or during baths at home.
- Interact with other children in a collaborative sense.
- Learn routines and understand the need to keep to them.
- Enjoy a good workout, helping with their co-ordination and stamina.
- To relax with a nice nap after every swimming session, giving the parents more 'me' time for themselves. 🙂
We tried two "taster sessions," from baby-swim companies, Water Babies being one of them. So if you are interested in taking your baby swimming with any program within the U.K. ask to take a 'taster session' first.
We tried one class with a company who had its own pool, which was great, but their early years classes had babies from new-born up until 2 1/2 years of age. If you know how rapidly babies grow, a 2-year-old can be way more alert and advanced than a 6-month-old. The class size was too big for our liking with more than 10 babies.
We choose Water Babies specifically, because of the guarantee of small classes, and classes grouped together with children of similar ages and abilities. Chapter 1, the beginning class only admits under ones. Most babies aren't walking, and all have the same cognitive level. Water Babies progresses all the way up to 5 years old and each class has a maximum of 10 children.
Our teacher, Rebecca and all Water Babies teachers know all children by name and give them individual attention during each class. What is great as well is the use of full-sized swimming pools at prestigious schools and clubs, which makes it well worth the money and instils the confidence we hope our children will develop.
The pools are warm to standards needed for baby swimming, but extra padding can be used with any baby's swimsuit to keep them warm as we sometimes do. I like the body wrap/all in one wetsuit by WB. The cost may seem a little higher than other competitors, however the small classes and the larger spaces used within private schools and health clubs that the company rents, as well as undisputed personalized attention to each baby during lessons, makes it all worthwhile.
Now onto more details about baby swim gear!
What do you need to get started?
To put a non-potty-trained baby in any public swimming facility we call it in the U.K the "Happy Nappy" system. They must both fit true to your baby's size because you don't want any leakages.
So, you first need a disposable or reusable swimming nappy.
As a reusable nappy family, we use the Bambino Mio, Reusable Swim Nappy UK and the WB nappy wrap.
You then need a Happy Nappy. You can get just that or a Happy Nappy Swimming-Suit aka swimming-costume like we did for our children and layered it with the Water Babies Body Wrap and All in One Sun Suit.
Our First Water Babies Class
So, to the first class, our first born actually went underwater in that class and has every class since!
Each term is about 9-10 weeks, sometimes with holidays in between.
Our instructor looks our daughter in the eye and says to her, her name then "are you ready? go", giving each child personalized attention as well as confidence to encourage her and others to go underwater. Toys, props like beach-boards, and lots of songs are incorporated into each class, keeping our daughter and dad fully engaged! It's a great investment of 30 minutes on any day if you choose to sign up for it.
From Chapter 1 to 10. What have we learned?
Our first born is currently in chapter 10. From perfecting her first learned safety tips; holding on to the edge of the pool, to now jumping into the pool from the side at just 3 years old.
She enjoys swimming fearlessly on her back, even unassisted in the bathtub. It's so cute and we are so proud!
Each chapter we see new skills being added on. New songs like ‘horsey, horsey’ which encourages our daughters to swim on their back and get themselves to safety, with little assistance. Swim stamina is also built upon with activities like swimming across the pool to the 'humpty dumpty' nursery rhyme.
My children look forward to each class and after each class they want to remain in the pool!
Let’s Talk Afro Hair
After swimming, hair and skin care for afro-hair due to chlorine used in the water is so important.
After each class we always rinse our children with clean water in the shower, sometimes adding soap, sometimes not. We change her out of her swimming nappy system and put fresh clothes on her, then we make our way home where the real work begins. At home we give her a full bath, and we start the hair wash process, washing her hair in a few sections with the shampoo of your choice. If your child is also able to handle a conditioner, feel free to add. Now our first born is 3, I do add conditioner, letting her play in the bath for about 5 minutes before rinsing it out.
After bathing my child, I proceed to replenish the oils lost from swimming onto her body. I also use my favourite homemade leave in conditioner shea butter mix into her washed hair. Adding oils like castor oil, and or olive oil from the ends of the hair to the root, adds more moisture to the hair. I then proceed to style her hair as desired. I top her hair up with water during the styling process if it is getting dry again.
I frequently get asked and sometimes even read about how swimming affects a baby's hair and skin: To us our daughter’s hair and skin have been perfectly fine and healthy! Rashes may pop up on your baby because they are getting used to the world, therefore, don't rule out swimming as the main cause for skin rashes, it could be from anything!
Our Final Thoughts
At the end of each chapter, the children get a badge. Our first born now has 9 badges.
My husband and I also find going in the water is therapeutic and to be great exercise.
We also swim at our local leisure centre outside of our Water Babies class as a family and our daughter was just as confident. I would just say some of these other pools are cold and Water Babies always pick warm pools for our babies.
We as parents absolutely love it and so do our children. We see her muscles strengthening and she is getting more and more comfortable and confident after each lesson. With two children now, our eldest also teaches and assists the second child with songs and water confidence in the bathtub, as well as encourages her from the side of the pool during her lessons.
Once being the only brown skin baby in her class, I love the fact that she is engaging in classes and she knows no matter your colour, God made her equal to also partake in all activities and to be the VERY BEST in them. (We believe without God through Jesus Christ, NOTHING is possible in life). We’ve also been working with Water Babies on helping to ensure that all customers are equally represented across their social media channels.
We look forward to seeing the progress of all our children and we would recommend water babies to you and any of our friends and family interested!
Guest Blog Written by
David and Janet Jamesy