I remember taking Ellie swimming while on maternity leave and I clearly remember being in the water 5 minutes and having to get out because she HATED it! The moment her feet touched the water she would scream and cling to me, it didn’t matter how much fun I made it look or what I did to make sure she was warm enough, she really didn’t like it. I stopped taking her at around 6 months as the screams were becoming deafening and I didn’t think it was fair on others using the pool. I vowed to take her again soon however soon turned in to about a year and a half later…oops!!
A bit of a back story, I am petrified of water, I have a huge fear of being splashed and being put under water. I used to hate swimming at school and would use any and every excuse to get out of it.(My periods were every week at one point!) One lesson we were practising to dive in to the deep end and I tried to explain to my PE teacher that I really couldn’t do it…so she pushed me in! You wouldn’t get away with doing something like that now, I wasn’t confident in the water and I’ve never been able to tread water so I panicked and had to get out. I never did another swimming lesson with her again. I have always been worried that my own fear of the water was affecting Ellie and she could sense I wasn’t confident either which is why she wasn’t keen. Yet I have had awful mum guilt since we stopped going (we did only go a handful of times during my maternity leave) because I know the benefits of teaching a baby to swim early.
Swimming with a baby can:
*Help to build muscles, strengthening all of a babies muscles effectively therefore making them stronger.
*Help improve coordination and balance.
*Builds confidence around water early.
*Strengthens a babies heart, lungs and can help to develop the brain.
It can also improve their appetite and the extra exercise will help their sleeping pattern too… more exercise means they are tireder than usual.
Ellie asked to go swimming during the Easter half term holidays, it came completely out of the blue and was the only thing she asked to do throughout the holidays. We are so lucky to have 4 public swimming pools in our town that all have parent and toddler sessions however most of them are during the week. One parent and toddler session is held on a Sunday morning which is perfect for us as it means I can take Ellie but have the back up of Luke too. It’s the family time I crave so much on a weekend, it gets us all out of the house for an hour and we have found Ellie actually LOVES it.
She took to the water so easily this time round, the pool we have used is warmer than the one I used to take her to which has definitely helped but for such a long time now she has pretended to swim in the bath, she doesn’t scream when we have to wash her hair and that has DEFINITELY helped too!
We have been swimming around 4 times now (we skipped one due to an epic meltdown one Saturday) but the look on her face when she jumps in to the water gives me all the feels inside. She is totally confident in the water, which eases my anxiety over giving her my fears slightly, she swims using armbands and only clings a little bit when she’s getting tired. She loves to jump in and see the fear in my face when she does and she loves splashing us both with the floats.
I no longer worry that not taking her swimming as a baby is going to have an adverse effect on her confidence growing up.
To quote Dory: “Just Keep Swimming.”