Whether you’re a brand new swim parent or you’ve had several kids make their way through swim lessons in the past, baby swim lessons can throw even the most seasoned parents for a loop. The thing is…every child handles the water differently, and the swim experience is unique depending on a ton of factors – water temperature, outside temperature, prior experience in the water, personality and more! That’s why being prepared in advance for what to expect can help you maximize your time (and your child’s time) at baby swim lessons.
While that doesn’t mean every single second of lessons needs to be productive (there are no tests here!) or that you’ve done something wrong if your baby absolutely screams bloody murder at their first lesson, there are certain things you can do in advance to make sure you’re ready for that first day in the pool, and to make the most of the lesson time.
First of all, baby steps. You have a very young child and much of the world is going to feel brand-new, including, often, the pool. Even if your child has been to a beach or an outdoor pool over the summer, swim lessons are different. There’s an instructor, there are specific activities, and there’s a set amount of time. So if your child doesn’t take the water like a fish right away, that’s 100% fine! We start with Parent-Tot classes as a slow introduction to the water, and to set the stage for future lessons as your child gains confidence, independence and comfort with the pool.
So, baby steps.
Tip 1: Get to the pool early. Getting changed always takes longer than you’d expect. From wiggly babies to unexpected diaper changes, it’s hard to predict how much time getting ready will actually take. And that’s just for your child! Parent-tot classes require you to be dressed and ready to go, too. Getting your suit on at home and just wearing clothes over it definitely helps, but if you decide to get dressed in the locker room beforehand, it’s helpful to have a place to set your child. A car seat works, or maybe a small toy to keep them occupied.
Tip 2: Consider long-sleeved suits. This is by no means a critical requirement, but if you have a child that’s sensitive to temperatures, or if you’re swimming in the middle of winter, having that extra cloth on your baby’s skin may make the first dip in the water more enjoyable.
Tip 3: Ask for advice from the instructor if things aren’t going well. Is your baby crying in the water? See if your child’s instructor has little toys to distract them, or ideas on how to help. They have seen so many babies in all stages and can absolutely help make the lesson a success.
Tip 4: Try something new! Maybe one week you sprinkle water on your babies back, and the next week you sprinkle water on their head? From swishing their bodies through the water to letting them feel their face under the water, a lot of options are available even for babies.
Tip 5: Make it fun! Blow bubbles! Sing songs! Smile and coo! Do whatever it takes to make the pool feel like an enjoyable place for your child.
We hope these ideas give you some comfort as you begin swim lessons with your baby. Hopefully the experience will be wonderful for all involved and if you ever have any questions, feel free to stop by the front desk or talk directly with your child’s instructor.