Do you want to bring your baby swimming, but feel nervous in water?
It’s something we come across all the time at Baby Swimmers, and it definitely shouldn’t stop you and your baby enjoying all the benefits that baby swimming has to offer.
The main thing to remember is that babies and young children quickly pick up on your own fears and anxieties, so it’s really important you try to stay calm and positive - no matter how you might be feeling inside!
So when you get in the pool for the first time, smile and talk to your baby – let them see in your face that it’s all really good fun!
Bend your knees if you need to so that your shoulders are under the water and you’re at the same eye-level as your baby, holding them facing you so the water covers their chests, and make a conscious effort to relax your arms so they don’t transfer any tension to your little one.
Throughout your session in the pool, try swapping between holding them close to your body so you both have lots of reassuring skin-to-skin contact; then further away at arm’s length, which will allow them to move more freely and start to explore their natural buoyancy.
One of our favourites at Baby Swimmers is something we call ‘cheek-to-cheek’, whereby you lie on your back with a woggle behind you for support. You then lay your baby on your chest so that they’re on their back, making sure they’re far enough up so that their head is on your shoulder and your cheeks are touching. Then simply start to walk slowly backwards through the water, gently kissing your baby’s cheek as you go. Such a lovely bonding experience, and fantastic reassurance for both of you!
As they get bigger, your role is to support your child in the water, rather than carry them. For example, when your little one is floating on their back, it’s easy to find yourself actually lifting them slightly, instead of gently supporting their head so that their ears are in the water.
Whenever you’re holding your baby or toddler, check that you’re not ‘gripping’ them. Little Harbour hold is great for encouraging a relaxed hold in you, and more independence for your little one. For this, you lengthen your arms as low as possible in the water, holding your child in front of you with their arms over your own wrists. As you move forwards in the water, your baby will not only be free to kick, but also to splash their arms around (which is all crucial for learning to swim).
Trying to stay as relaxed as possible really is key, so if you’re aware that you’re starting to feel tense, take some deep breaths and start singing to your little one – you’ll find your tension will soon melt away and you’ll both start to enjoy yourselves again!
Here at Baby Swimmers, our teachers have a wealth of experience of helping and supporting mums and dads with all sorts of water-related anxieties, and we’re always delighted when we see them overcoming their fears as they progress through our programme with their little ones. Rest assured we’ll never ask you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and will do everything we can to make both yours and your baby’s time in the water as enjoyable as possible.