How to Survive your First Baby Swimming Lesson – How the hell was I going to survive my first Baby Swimming Lesson when I was struggling to keep my head above water at home? What if baby gets hungry and kicks off, starts screaming uncontrollably? Do I even have the right baby swimming gear? What do I do with her while I’m getting changed? What do i do if she has a poo explosion in the pool?
There were so many questions. I wish I’d had a manual for my first experience swimming with my 3-month-old baby that included all the tips & tricks I would ever need. You know, the sort of manual that tells you all the sh*t stuff, so you can at least prepare your already exhausted fragile self for the worst. Unfortunately, I didn’t. And, like most of my baby ‘firsts’, it was a bit of a disaster which resulted in a screaming, damp baby in the back of the car and me with a tear-streaked face, wearing no underwear, driving us both home.
BUT it didn’t have to be like that. It could have been a great ‘first’ experience for us both if only I’d had a few pointers beforehand.
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Your first Baby Swimming Lesson
So, you want to start swimming lessons with your brand new little baby, but if you’re being honest, the thought of doing so is scaring the crap out of you, as it did me. After all, you’re just getting your head around being able to bath the baby on your own never mind survive the changing room long enough to actually dip your baby’s toes in the water.
Well, I’m here to help. I’ve been there, worn the t-shirt and used that t-shirt to wipe the tears and probably a little bit of ‘crying snot’ (come on, you know what i mean) from my red blotchy face.
Benefits of early Swimming Lessons
Before you allow your worries to overwhelm you and turn your back on the whole idea. Don’t. There are so many benefits to Swimming Lessons from an early age, here are just a few-
- It’s said to improve cognitive brain development – helping babies develop learning skills. Some studies have shown early swimmers may be slightly further ahead of non-swimmers in certain areas, like speech, math and literally skills.
- Helps to improve coordination and balance – babies who swim tend to have better balance out of the pool.
- Physical benefits – improves core strength (those muscles that help babies hold their head up), gets joints working and even benefits the cardiovascular system, strengthening the heart and lungs.
- Helps to build water confidence for you and your baby. As parents, we tend to give off vibes to our kids and if we’re not confident, they will pick up on it. Swimming Lessons can help you to be more confident when handling your baby in the water.
- Teaches important safety skills. Structured Swimming Classes over time will teach baby to float on their back and reach for the side of the pool to hold on. This can even develop onto treading water as they get older. All vital life-saving skills. That being said children should always be accompanied/supervised in the water.
Not only is it a great way to teach water safety & confidence for both you and baby. It also provides an amazing opportunity for you both to bond. If you have other children sometimes, it can be hard to get quality bonding time in. Swimming is a great way to do that. It’s something fun you can both do together that doesn’t involve the daily (and nightly) duties of your mum life. Your baby will love the water. After all, they have just spent nine months in a sack of fluid.
How to Survive your First Baby Swimming Lesson.
You’ve already made the first step in deciding you want your baby to have swimming lessons, don’t go back on that decision now. At least let me try to answer some of your burning questions first and put your mind at ease.
1. The first step to Survive your first baby swimming lesson is to Write a list
Since becoming a mum I’ve learnt to love a list (yes, I’m that sad and so should you be). As soon as you book those lessons in, long before you actually have your first one, research and write a list of the things you need to get you through that first lesson. Once you have a list, you’ll feel a whole lot less worried about that first time. Don’t worry, the rules are pretty much covered in the rest of this post.
2. Check the Rules
My understanding of the rules is based on the organisation i used but each company may be slightly different, so make sure you check with the organisation you’re using. Usually, they have the rules clearly detailed on their website. Knowing the rules can help you become better prepared and make for an easier first lesson.
3. Choose the correct Swimwear
This goes for you and baby. The last thing you need to worry about is a boob popping out of your swimwear because you forgot that those bad boys have tripled in size since you last wore that polka-dot swimsuit. Yep, you probably should buy a new one to accommodate those milk leaking melons.
And now you’re for your baby. All swimming classes will require a baby to wear a Swim Nappy and a Neoprene Swim Nappy cover, also known as a Happy Nappy.
The swim nappy is similar to a normal disposable nappy except they are made to be worn in the pool. Meaning, they won’t absorb the water and swell up like balloons in the same way a normal nappy would.
Like normal nappies, they come in different sizes and you can even get reusable swim nappies too.
It’s very likely you will also be required to use a Neoprene Nappy Cover, this is like a second nappy that goes over the swim nappy. I know it sounds confusing, why would you need two nappies, right? Well, do you know those times when your baby has a poo explosion and everything gets covered in it? That second ‘neo’ nappy is what will stop anything escaping and prevent a mass exodus from the pool because torpedoes have been fired from your babies backside. Even if there are no ‘floaters’, they just help to make the whole experience a little more hygenic.
They come in all sorts of colours and styles. I would definitely recommend using just the ‘nappy’ version, like the one above and avoid the full ‘wet-suite’ style like the plague. The last thing you need after a lovely time in the water is having to peel those things of a potentially screaming child. You want to make the whole ‘getting changed’ palava as easy as possible. Just trust me on this one.
This is not a necessity but if your worried your little fish will get cold in the water, use a swim wrap.
You can buy a matching swim wrap and happy nappy together from Amazon. It’s made from a light padded neoprene material and acts as a body warmer.
Waterproof changing matt
Not knowing what the changing facilities were like, I invested in a Waterproof changing matt. I didn’t want to have to change my baby on the wet floor of a less than sanitary changing room. It turns out it wasn’t needed as our pool already had changing mats laid out. But it didn’t go to waste and I still use it now in public pools.
I used this one from Amazon – Konfidence Roll & Go Baby Changer Matt. It’s made from cushioned neoprene, is non-slip and chlorine resistant. It rolls up making it easy to pack up in your swimming bag.
When getting out of the pool, you want a nice big towel to wrap your baby in. The bigger the better, to keep your little one nice and toasty while you get changed. I use this one from Amazon. It’s a big hooded poncho towel with lots of different styles to choose from. You just pop it over the baby’s head. It’s probably more suited to a slightly older child, but i love that this towel has been her “swimming towel” since day one.
And what’s better is that we add our swimming badges to the bottom of the towel. It will be a great sentimental item we can look back on in years to come.
4. Other items you will need
Normal nappies. Believe or not you need to add this to your list. On more than one occasion we have arrived at swimming to realise I forgot to pack a normal nappy to put on after swimming.
Swimming is hungry work. If your baby is still too young to have snacks that are not of the liquid variety then you probably don’t need to worry about this one. But if you do have a snack eater, then you don’t want to forget this one. Little snacks are great for keeping your child entertained in their towel while you’re trying to shoehorn your legs back into your jeans (DON’T WEAR JEANS – BIG MISTAKE).
If you still have a milk drinker then you want to make sure you take some with you. Unless your breastfeeding of course, then you have constant milk accessories anyway.
Again this tends to be one item you’re likely to forget while you’re trying to remember everything else. You don’t want to be caught short and elbow deep in sh*t and not have a packet of wipes to hand. You could probably wash baby clean in the pool but I’m sure this is frowned upon and your likely to be banned from every pool within a 20-mile radius.
At some point during your swimming lesson adventures you’re going to forget to take your underwear. We tend to wear our swimsuits under our clothing and forget to pack our underwear, only realising this when we’re getting changed after the lesson.
5. It’s all about timing
One of the key points to Surviving your First Baby Swimming Lesson is to try to time your child’s feeds around your swimming lesson. This will ensure baby is not hungry when you’re in the pool or getting changed. Even if you have to feed in the car beforehand. Don’t worry about sick ups. As much as the instructors don’t want turd floaters, there absolutely fine with milk sick and snot. I would rather have a bit of milk sick in the pool then have my child screaming the whole place down because she’s hungry.
The same goes for nap times. Although that’s easier said than done, try to time your baby’s nap time around your lesson.
But don’t worry too much. Other mums/dads attending the class will be trying to do the same things as you and it’s not going to work out every time. During my lessons, we (the mums) had a little laugh when one of the babies kicked off and would reassure each other by saying “that’ll be me next week”. The other parents are expecting hungry, tired or just miserable babies and they’re just glad it’s not there’s.
6. What to Wear to your First Baby Swimming Lesson
The best tip i could probably give you for Surviving your first baby swimming lesson is what you should wear. The right clothing makes the whole experience a lot easier.
For you – make it something light and easy to remove and put back on. I always wear leggings whenever I go swimming. They’re just so easy to take off but also put back on when you haven’t quite dried off properly. As i said before don’t wear jeans. They are an absolute nightmare to get back on after you’ve only half-dried yourself.
For baby – again you need something easy to take off and put back on. During the first few lessons, i was dressing my little one in normal clothes. This was stuff that i would probably dress her in to go to the shops. After the third week, I learnt my lesson and started dressing her in a zip-up front all in one suit. It was great because it was hooded, warm and totally easy to put on – even if i hadn’t quite dried her properly. If you have a non-walker, I probably wouldn’t worry about proper shoes, just nice thick socks would be fine.
7. Getting you and baby changed after Swimming
The easiest way to do this is to wrap your baby in a big fluffy towel, give them something to keep them entertained, i.e. a snack or toy, and get yourself changed first. Once you’re sorted you can then sort baby without the hassle of trying to avoid getting baby’s dry clothes wet by your own dripping self.
Other things to note on Swimming with Baby
Just don’t worry about deodorant, hairbrushes, perfume and whatever else you would normally use when getting dressed in the morning. Those things can all wait until you get home. They take up too much space in your Swim Bag and to be honest, other parents might not appreciate you spraying deodorant in a small confined space, where they are changing their own baby’s. As for your hair keep it up during your swim and sort it out when you get home.
This probably goes without saying but wear your own swimsuit under your clothes to save time in the changing room.
I started off trying to cram everything into my baby changing bag, towels and all. In the end, I started using a big bag for life. Like the ones, you can buy in the pound shops with different pictures on. They’re perfect – plenty of room for everything.
On the subject of your bag. When you get baby changed into their swim stuff, quickly rearrange your bag so that the towel, snacks, milk or anything else you might need straight out the pool, are at the top of the bag. This saves you having to rummage around, while holding your baby, to find all the bits you need.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my take on How to Survive your First Baby Swimming Lesson and hopefully, it’ll make your first Swimming experience a lot more enjoyable.
How was your first Swimming experience? Do you have one coming up and would like to ask a question? Feel free to comment below.
*Sources – Heath Line