Swimming Lessons for a Baby

Here is a bit of background information before I blog about our experience with swimming lessons with our baby:

When Linden was 3 months old, I started to realize how boring babies are, and was trying desperately to find something to do with a newborn.  He couldn’t sit up on his own, he couldn’t crawl – he couldn’t do much of anything, really.  So, short of circle time and rolling a ball to him and basically playing fetch by myself, I looked into getting him into swimming.  There was nothing available in my area at the time for babies under 6 months of age.  All the community centres started them at 6 months.  I was talking to my neighbour at New Years, and she suggested a place called Swim Clo Aquatics which is a private swim school in BC.  As soon as the holidays were over, I called them enquiring about whether they would take a 4 month old, and they did!  I got Linden enrolled (and by this time, he was just under 5 months), and we now had an activity!  Swim Clo works out of the Best Western hotel in South Surrey, and they offer private lessons, which was awesome for us, being new parents and all, and really not knowing what to expect in regards to taking a baby swimming.  It was comforting to know that we would be the only people in the pool, and both my husband and I were invited (and encouraged) to come in the pool with our son.  It was also a heated pool, which was really nice for our son since he was so young.  We started him out twice a week for the first few months, just so he would get used to the water, and then dialled back to once a week.  The lessons were good for Linden, and for us as parents, as we were taught how to properly hold our son in the water, how to properly submerge him, how to teach him to swim, proper water safety, etc.  It was very repetitive, basically swimming from one end of the pool to the other for more than half the class, then we would do “Humpty-Dumpty’s” which is when we sat him on the edge of the pool, did the Humpty Dumpty song, and then submerged him and taught him to swim back to the edge, and then finally we would end off with him playing with some water toys, which he absolutely loved!

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When he turned 9 months, we were able to get him into swimming lessons at the community pool near our house.  They follow the same program (the Red Cross Swim Preschool Program), but its a group session with kids ranging from 4 months to 36 months (I know, now they take 4 month olds!).  Linden was the second youngest in the class, with most of the kids being closer to the 30-36 month age range, and the youngest one being 5 months old.  The classes were super fun for Linden, lots of songs in the pool like Purple Stew, The Wheels on the Bus, Fishies in the Middle, Hokey Pokey, etc., which Linden just loved.  The songs are interactive and fun for the little ones, and the kids had a great time.  I did notice however, that they didn’t “teach” as much swimming stuff to the kids or the parents.  Although everything we did in the classes were safety related, teaching them to be comfortable on their backs, blowing bubbles, etc., they didn’t teach the fundamentals of each step, such as rollovers (how to get them onto their backs, and teaching the babies to roll onto their backs) for water safety.  This wasn’t a problem for us since we had already been taking lessons with Swim Clo, so this was actually good practice for us.  We did notice however, that the parents of the other baby in the class were kind of left out.  They didn’t really know what to do, and felt uncomfortable and nervous when we had to submerge our babies/kids because they had never done it before, nor been shown how to do so safely or properly.  Long story short, the community centre swim program is a great tool for practice, but not a great place to learn how to swim.

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When we look back now, Swim Clo was an expensive alternative at the time, but now that we see Linden’s progress and see him with
other peers in his “age group” (although most were older), we could see that he was actually better in some aspects than some of the 3 year olds.  Although expensive, Swim Clo was worth every penny, and I’m glad we enrolled him.  I’m not trying to show off that our son is better at swimming than the 3 year olds, because he’s not – he still obviously needs us to hold him – but what I am trying to get at, is he is comfortable in the water, he’s not afraid to do things in the water, and he knows how to do  things in the pool that I think other kids his age may not be able to do.  For example, he is totally fine with, and in fact enjoys getting his face wet.  There’s a lot of kids who are afraid of getting splashed in the face with water, or getting their faces wet, or dunked underwater.  Linden also (with the help and the consistency of Swim Clo), can kick his legs 100% on his own, can splash his hands in the water when you tell him to, and reaches for the edge of the pool when you tell him to (which is great for water safety).  He is even starting to try a swimming stroke with his arms now, which I think is awesome for an 11 month old.


He still can’t swim on his own, but I’m confident that day is coming soon.  What I can say though, is that he loves the water, and isn’t afraid of it, which is all I’m asking for.  Both my husband and I want our kids to grow up being active, playing outside, doing physical activities because we feel its good for them and important for their physical (and mental) well being.  We hope to be able to continue Linden in classes both at Swim Clo as well as at the community centre without getting too overwhelmed with all his other activities, and with him starting daycare when he turns 1!

 

10 Month Update

This is a little late, but here is my blog post about our son’s development at 10-months.

Linden weighed in at 17lbs 13oz and 27.5″ at his 10-month check up with the doctor.  He is a little guy, but is growing well, and is healthy so we have nothing to worry about in that regard.  He is no longer breastfeeding – he is purely on puréed foods and drinking water (no milk or juice).  We do give him homemade popsicles made of apple or pear water (the left over water from when we steam his food) to help with his teething.  This also ensures he gets lots of fluids for these hot summer days.  Stopping breastfeeding was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated.  We were feeding him puréed foods 3 times a day, and breastfeeding pretty much just before bed to help him to fall asleep.  Usually, my husband gives him a bath before bed, and while he’s doing that, I’ll go have a shower.  One day, I took longer in the shower (or Linden was quicker in the bath), so my husband sat with our son, and Linden just fell asleep for the night.  And that was the end of breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding was always a horrible experience for me – it was painful and uncomfortable – so I definitely do not have any thoughts of missing the “bonding”.  Bonding – schmonding.  It hurt, it was a pain (literally and figuratively), and it just downright sucked. Good riddance to that!

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Family Photo at the Beach

He is still on puréed foods, which I thought he would be moving on to more solid foods by now.  I think he just got a slightly later start because he didn’t get his first tooth till he was 9.5 months old.  We have tried giving him small cut up pieces of soft foods (like banana and avocado), but he just swallowed them whole which almost ended up in a trip to emergency.  He managed to get it down though since it was a softer fruit, so all was good.  We have decided not to push the issue until he is ready.  He eats Baby Mum-mums though, and knows to chew those (although they mostly dissolve).  He didn’t take a liking at all to meats, so he’s eating quinoa mixed in with his vegetables, and flavoured tofu (an awesome suggestion from a friend of ours who had the same experience with their baby not liking meat).

He now has 4 teeth – 2 at the top, and 2 at the bottom.  The bottom ones came in first, and we didn’t even know they were breaking through until he put my finger in his mouth and bit my finger.  I was surprised to find two little teeth at the bottom.  They never seemed to really bother him.  The first top tooth however, bled a fair amount when it broke through the gum, and the second top tooth gave him a bit of a rough time.  Although after we saw it, we know why – the thing is huge!  He had a few restless nights because of that beast!  I’m sure every baby is different, they all get their teeth at different times/ages, and they all react differently when the teeth come through.  Linden (and we) were fortunate that they didn’t hurt him that much.

For those of you following my blog, we enrolled Linden in a Baby Sign Language program when he was 6 months old, and we have been going since then.  He absolutely loves the classes, and has (finally) made some progress.  His first sign was ‘milk’ (at about 8 months old), and he now can sign ‘light’, ‘dog’ (although since our dog’s name is Snowy, he signs ‘dog’ when you say ‘Snowy’), he waives hello and can clap.  We are currently working on getting him to sign ‘book’, and ‘thank you’.  He also loves music, and “dances” whenever he hears music or if you sing to him.


He is doing really well in swimming, and private lessons have paid off – although the
lessons were expensive, they were worth every penny.  We enrolled Linden in private swim lessons with Swim Clo Aquatics since they were the only swim school I could find who would take babies under 6 months.  Now that he’s older and enrolled in public classes, he’s miles ahead of the other kids who are much older than him.  (I’m not trying to brag, I’m just explaining why the private lessons were worth it).  In the pool, he can swim (short distances, maybe like 5-7 feet) from my husband to me and vice versa, he can turn over from his back to his front and vice versa, he can be fully submerged, he kicks his legs (to actually swim), he splashes his hands on the surface of the water if you tell him to, and if you say “reach for the edge”, he reaches for the edge of the pool and hangs on.  The main difference between the private lessons and the lessons from the local community centres, is that in the private lessons, they focus a lot on water safety and actually getting your child to learn to swim and learn the basics.  Its very repetitive, but the results show.  In the community centre program, they’re more about having a ton of fun, lots of songs and games for the little ones.  They both run the same program (Red Cross Preschool program from Starfish to Whale).

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Linden’s First Canada Day (he didn’t consume any alcohol – the beer can is sealed).  Plus, we wouldn’t waste a beer on him!

Outside of the pool, he’s gotten really good at crawling, and can climb up 2 whole flights of stairs.  In fact, he loves to climb the stairs, that if you pick him up, he lets you know of his dismay.  So we just follow closely behind him and let him tire himself out!  He loves going to MyGym where he gets to sing and do circle time, and then I take him and let him climb up all their apparatus and crawl through wobbly tunnels, play on their swings, go zip-lining, climb ladders and go down slides, and then has his independent time (which he totally sucks at).  He does however, love to share, which we normally encourage, but he loves to share his food (particularly Baby Mum-mums with our dog Snowy), so although he don’t want our dog taking his food, we figure that sharing is a good thing for him to learn for now.

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Linden rock climbing at MyGym

Lastly, he’s sleeping through the night, from 8:30pm till about 6:30 (sometimes 7) am.  Its been so nice to be able to sleep again!

And thats about it for his updates!