Before our son, Kevin, was born, I spent many nights during my third trimester laying awake worrying about all the worst-case scenarios; the typical “what if my baby accidentally ingests a lightbulb” type of stuff. Knowing that I couldn’t protect my baby from every single bad thing did not give me piece of mind, so I turned to my trusty list-making system to bring me calmness. I listed out all my worst-case scenarios and then did my best to come up with solutions for each of the problems. While some were too irrational to even be able to address (I’ll save myself the embarrassment of revealing those), some were very plausible. Such as the possibility of my baby drowning. About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects). So while giving birth in a tub with a trained professional was one thing, not knowing what to do the first time my child inhaled water while I was giving him a bath was a rational concern. My solution was to sign my baby up for swimming lessons.
Fast forward three months, and I finally felt ready to partake in outside-the-house activities with my little babe. I avidly searched for various classes to take, keeping in mind that swim lessons were at the top of my list. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Stony Creek Swim Center in Noblesville offers free year-round lessons for babies under six months. I couldn’t imagine anything cuter than a group of tiny babies in swim diapers, so I immediately signed Kevin up. I was unsure what our first half hour class would entail, but the instructor did an excellent job of walking us through step-by-step how each exercise worked.
To begin, parents hold their little one facing them, and we walk around in a circle singing ring around the rosy. At the end of the song, all the parents blow bubbles while the babies giggle. We sing the song again, and instead of blowing bubbles at the end, we count to three and quickly swipe the baby’s face underwater. Then the instructors throw foam letters into the pool while the parents help the babies grab the letters and “swim” them over to another spot to drop them off. The babies then practice floating on their backs while their parents support them.
During my favorite part of the class, the instructor drags a foam mat into the water, and the babies practice doing tummy time. It’s so fun to watch the babies looking at one another, giggling, and babbling. We practice tummy time every day at home, but doing it in a pool with other little ones who speak Kevin’s language is a special treat.
The remainder of class is spent getting the baby’s heads wet while singing, practicing kicking off the wall, and rolling from back to belly while singing some more. We conclude the way we began, and then the parents scurry off with their little ones in tow to capitalize on extra long naps. Kevin consistently takes two hour naps after his lessons conclude, and he is noticeably more pleasant and happier the rest of the day.
Swim lessons have offered many benefits for us, including a happier baby, water safety from a very young age, bonding time during physical activity, and a more pleasant bath time. He has gone from screaming and crying his way through baths to splashing and giggling until it’s time to get out of the tub. For us, it’s a bonus that classes at Stony Creek Swim Center are free from four weeks to six months of age. Swim, baby, swim!
Does your baby take swim lessons? What has been your experience?