run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Friday, 18 December 2015

Waterbabies: a review

I'm no baby class junkie - at the youngest age, I reckon they're often more for the parents than the babas, so don't recommend spending hours pouring over the benefits of Marmoset Music vs Baby Yoga etc. But I did want to take tiny man to swimming lessons. 

Even if you don't believe the research that starting babies swimming early reminds them of womb-time and makes the learning process easier, getting them used to water and on the path to the life-saving skill of swimming as soon as possible seems like a good idea. In their first few weeks, babies naturally inhibit their own breathing underwater (with their gag reflex), although that lessens at about 6 months - but when properly supervised and with lots of parental know-how babies can naturally swim short distances underwater from very early on. Plus tiny man has always loved splashing in the bath... And as an extra bonus, swimming tires babies out like 12 hours on the treadmill would for us... so leads to biiiig nap time!

Swimming classes were definitely something I wanted to research. The thought of what could happen if your hand slips in the pool for a second... is terrifying. I wanted a great teacher who could give tiny man and me confidence to enjoy the water together. Asking around for recommendations, the name Water Babies kept coming up.

A bit of price research showed the brand to be the Selfridges of the baby swimming world: unashamedly expensive. In London classes are about £300 for a term of ten lessons - it's a big outlay. But, four lessons into our ten, Water Babies is definitely offering good value.

Some might be impressed by the gadgets and wizardy - our brilliant teacher, Frances, at the warm, new and very clean Whitings School pool near High Barnet, has a waterproof iPad with info and to check all the babies in. On signing up, you receive a really detailed info pack, plus a folder with stickers to mark your baba's progress (first underwater dip, etc), and you can also buy branded super-warm wetsuits and have an underwater photo shoot.

Those are all nice extras, but what really stands out is the quality of teaching. Frances is calm, knowledgeable and seriously experienced - she's been teaching tinies swimming for nearly a decade. She talks through every exercise, remembers every baby's name and what they do/don't like (tiny man beams every time he sees her), and shows us the best way to hold and support our babies in the water.

Each class follows a pattern: a warm-up twirling the babies in water to a song, a pattern of saying your baby's name, 'ready', 'go' and gently splashing them as a cue to prepare for going under water, followed by an underwater dip, and learning different water games to teach them skills like blowing bubbles, swimming on the back. At the end, Frances holds up picture cards above the babies' heads as they lie floating on backs - I wouldn't have thought they'd be bothered but tiny man stares and stares and happily kicks his legs.

So whilst we're nearly half-way through the term and I don't yet know if tiny man is going to be the next Ian Thorpe, he loves our weekly swimming lesson and I love the WaterBabies format and confidence-inspiring teaching. The next batch of lessons brings with it an underwater photoshoot, so watch this space...

* Run Out of Womb trialed swimming lessons courtesy of WaterBabies, but rest assured we are seriously gobby and would never rave about something unless we love it.
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