Blog post by Ali, mum of one, Lancashire
Baby and toddler swimming lessons – why baby swimming lessons are so much more than a “middle-class must-do” and what parents really need to know about them…
I’m your typical first-time mum – slightly neurotic and desperate to prove (to myself, mainly) my worth as a parent. Weeks before my now-16-month-old daughter was born, s/he was signed up to a multitude of age appropriate classes, including; baby massage, baby yoga, baby sensory and baby swimming lessons – you name it and I’d block-booked my fetus onto it!
Once she’d arrived and the weeks went by (with sleep deprivation really kicking in), there was one class I remained truly dedicated to – swimming lessons. And you know why? As delightful as the other classes were, they’re highly unlikely to save my child’s life. Only since becoming a parent have I learnt that only half of all children in the UK can swim by the time they leave school. HALF?! How is that even possible, we live on an island and live for our annual beach or pool-side holiday abroad. And don’t kids learn in schools any more?! Apparently not. Unsurprisingly, I’ve also discovered that drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death amongst children in the UK. So, you can see why swimming soon become the top priority in our weekly activity schedule.
I take my little one to Puddle Ducks, a national baby and toddler swim franchise, which was a fortunate coincidence after a friend recommended them – I’ve since realised there’s a whole disparity between good and bad providers (tips for what to look out for later).
My young daughters skills in the water are impressive, but I would say that, I’m the proud and over-enthusiastic parent, remember? Of course she isn’t pounding laps in the pool each week, she’s a teeny tiny toddler, but the core programme teaches water safety and she already has a plethora of essential life-saving skills under her belt, including: either blowing bubbles in the water (instead of inhaling it into her lungs), kicking to the surface when submerged underneath (instead of sinking to the bottom) and reaching for the side of the pool and holding on (massively increasing the likelihood that someone will then pull her out, alive). So that’s one less thing to keep me awake at night.
I stress the life-saving aspect, as I recently read a lefty article describing baby and toddler swimming lessons as a “must-do for middle-class mums”. I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that the vast majority of parents, regardless of where they sit in the current class system, want to stop their child from drowning. Swimming lessons, like all other baby and toddler activities, may have a price tag, but teaching my child how to hold her own in water is one I’m most certainly prepared to invest in and make sacrifices for – I recently switched Asda for Aldi and save more than enough to cover her weekly lessons (done!).
If the cost of classes are too much of a stretch then there’s plenty that ALL parents can do to promote water safety – such as taking their child to a local pool or familiarising them with the SAFE code (www.rlss.co.uk) – but as an advocate of good quality swimming programmes, I’m going to share some advice to help you spend your money wisely.
- Don’t even dip their toes in the pool if it is under 28c – this is particularly important for babies and younger children. If the pool is too cold (and annoyingly most public ones are) they won’t enjoy the experience, nor will they be able to follow the lesson.
- Steer clear of armbands, disks or similar floatation devices – let’s face it, it’s unlikely a child would have them on should they should fall into water unsupervised. Therefore, it’s better to tap into your child’s natural ability to swim and teach them basic water safety skills early on.
- Don’t let your own fear or dislike of water get in the way – going swimming and getting our hair wet may be amongst a long list of things we’d rather not do (our negative feelings are most likely because we either didn’t go swimming enough as a child or the lesson quality was poor) but children learn their habits and behaviours from us so it’s important we set the standard. Research shows that children will gain confidence and develop skills faster if their parents/grandparents/carers go in the water with them.
- You get what you pay for, in life, and in swimming lessons: there’s plenty of choice out there to suit all budgets, but, if you can afford it, a well-structured programme will help your child progresses quickly and at their own rate – the skills and confidence gained will remain with them for life.
Puddle Duck classes are available in the following areas:
Shaw Hill Golf Club, Whittle-le-Woods on Monday
Euxton Pool on Wednesdays, Thursday and Sunday
DW Sports Leigh on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday
The Escape Zone, Leigh on Saturday and Sunday
DW Sports Wigan on Wednesday and Saturday
DW Sports St Helens on Tuesday and Friday
DW Sports Southport on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Lansbury Bridge College, St Helens on Saturday
The Mercure Pool, Blackrod on Monday, Thursday and Friday
Ormskirk C of E Primary School on Thursday
Sports Direct Fitness Formby on Thursday and Saturday
For more information about the classes or to book please call 01606 892 868, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit our website: http://www.puddleducks.com