The first time you take your little one swimming can be a bit overwhelming. At Water Babies, we teach babies from birth - at a time when new parents may only just be getting to grips with leaving the house at all, let alone packing up the towels, swim nappies and post-swim snacks for parent and baby.
Here, one of our mummies takes us along for her weekly swimming lesson with her little boy, Orson. She also helpfully lists all of the bits and bobs you’ll need for a smooth sailing – or should that be smooth swimming? – lesson.
5.30am – Our swimming session starts at 10.45 at a pool that’s about half an hour from our house, so like all mums I frantically start counting backwards from the time we need to leave the house. Naturally, this starts at the crack of dawn. Orson is an early riser – what eight-month-old isn’t? – so we get up for the first feed of the day before I jump in the shower whilst my husband watches Orson. It’s at this point that I start prepping his meals for the day and pulling together our swimming kit, to save time once my husband is at work and I’m doing the childcare singlehandedly.
8.30am – We have a hungry little boy so three hours after his first feed he’s keen for his morning bowl of porridge and side dish of strawberries. I like to make sure he has a good breakfast with at least five ounces or 140ml of water with his food. This will give him the energy he needs to make the most out of our lesson and take us through to 11.30 when his next feed is due. On swimming day, I tend to give him a snack around an hour after this feed – generally a mashed banana or a yoghurt and rice cake – so his tummy is full and he has time to digest it well ahead of the lesson.
9.15am – Nap time! I’ll settle him and pop him in his cot for a half an hour kip. This ensures he’s had the rest he needs to retain his energy levels ready for a good old splash in the pool. Nap time also gives me some downtime so that I can load the car, as I find it easier to get the majority of what we’ll need to take with us in the car whilst I’m not trying to entertain an excited baby.
Here’s a list of what we pack in our swimming bag.
- A hooded towel for Orson and beach towel for me.
- Nappies, wipes and nappy bags – nappy bags are great for storing wet swimwear.
- A post-lesson change of clothes for Orson – generally an oversized zip-up onesie, vest and socks. In the winter months, I also pack a fleece jacket and a hat. I don’t need a change of clothes as I just pop on what I arrived in. I just pack a sports bra and a clean pair of underwear.
- A large foldable changing mat. Water Babies have some great options on offer.
- A toy – to distract Orson whilst I change.
- A towelling robe for me – in the summer, I pack a towel wrap dress.
- Hairbrush, deodorant and shower gel.
- Although he arrives at the pool in his swimwear, it goes without saying that you don’t want to forget this! Orson wears a Happy Nappy Duo and Warm In One suit.
- Snacks for both of us – a packet of rice cakes for Orson and a cereal bar for me.
- A £1 coin for our locker.
I pack all of this in a large reusable bag with long handles, as it doesn’t matter if it gets damp and it’s easy to throw over my shoulder whilst I carry Orson around.
9.45am – At Water Babies, it’s encouraged to take your little one to the pool swim-ready, which I’ve always found easier anyway as wiggling Orson into his swimsuit is no mean feat! I pop on his Happy Nappy Duo and Warm In One suit. There’s so many options for swimwear for your little one but Orson runs cold in the pool so this is the best for him. I just pop a pair of socks on his feet so they don’t get cold on the drive. For me, during the summer months I wear a loose dress over my swimming costume and baggy tracksuit bottoms and a sweatshirt when its colder. I also try to wear sandals that I can slip on and off, even when its cooler, as you’ll need to take your shoes off when you arrive at the pool. For our first class, I made the mistake of trying to untie a pair of trainers whilst carrying Orson – not a mistake I’ll be making again!
10am – We jump in the car and drive to our class. Orson will almost always fall asleep on the way so he gets an extra 40 winks in.
10.30am – We arrive 15 minutes before our session starts, to allow plenty of time for us to get sorted and store our clothes away.
10.45am – Time for our half an hour session – and the highlight of our week!
11.15am – We head to the changing room. I always dry Orson off and change him before I sort myself out. In the winter months, I pack a light towelling robe to keep me warm for the few minutes that I’m changing him. I quickly remove his wet swimming clothes, pop them in a nappy bag and change him into a zip-up onesie – cotton in the summer and fleece in the winter – in the next size up so it’s a little big and therefore easier to dress him in a rush. Then I keep him occupied with a toy whilst I get sorted. I’ll pop a winter hat on him, unless it’s the height of summer, and make sure I have a cellular blanket in the car to put over his legs on the drive home.