[AD: Max received his baby swimming lessons free of charge, in exchange for blog coverage]
This morning, as this post goes live, Max and I will be heading to the pool for our final session – for now, at least – of the Turtle Tots baby swimming lessons we started back in February. Apparently there will be badges handed out. We’re very excited about this. (Er, even although I’m pretty sure they’re just for the actual babies…)
Here’s how we’ve been getting on…
Baby swimming lessons with Turtle Tots
Before we started our lessons, I was honestly a bit nervous at the prospect of taking Max swimming. I was worried about the changing rooms (I mean, Max is so wriggly right now that it can be a challenge getting him dressed at the best of times, let alone when we’re both soaking wet, and crammed into a cubicle together…), I wasn’t sure how he’d react to the water, and I was at least 98% sure I’d somehow manage to embarrass myself by falling into the pool, or forgetting to pack my underwear or something.
Well, four months on, I’m happy to say we’ve got the changing room down to a fine art (I wrote a post about our first changing room experience here:
I think the only thing I’d add to that now would be that I find it much easier to get Max in and out of his swimming gear if I let him stand up while I’m changing him. For some reason, when I try to lie him down in a public changing room, he’ll instantly start crying, but if I let him stand, he’s absolutely fine. I mean, it’s still like trying to herd cats, obviously, but at least there’s no screaming, and that’s the main thing…), Max loves the pool, and I’ve only had one underwear-forgetting incident. (Last week, in fact. It’s OK, it was just my bra. I can live with that. Or without
It wasn’t always like that, though. For the first few sessions, while Max wasn’t unhappy or crying in the water, he was a little bit puzzled by it all, and quite clingy. It didn’t take him long to warm up, though, and these days as soon as we walk through to the pool from the changing area, he’s desperate to get into the water. One of the things I like about Turtle Tots is that the class sizes are quite small (In fact, on the day these photos were taken, Max and I were the only ones there, which was handy!), so each baby gets lots of one-on-one attention. We start every class in the same way: by “swimming” in a circle while singing the Turtle Tots song, and then jumping up to catch the colours from the sky:
After that, though, the classes are very much baby-led, and totally flexible. On the day these photos were taken, for instance, Max was distracted by the toys piled up at the side of the pool, so our instructor, Charlene, decided to just go with that, and do lots of games involving the pool toys, and also the large rubber mats, which Max absolutely loves jumping from:
Of course, this might all just look like fun and games – and it IS – but Max is learning all the time. For instance, Charlene uses colourful scarves dropped in the water to teach him how to blow bubbles (i.e. how to breathe when his face is in the water), or toys designed to sink slowly and be reached for, to encourage him to duck down under the surface. The mats, meanwhile, help build his confidence in the water, and can also be used for Max’s favourite thing of all: THE TUNNEL:
Max absolutely LOVES going through this tunnel of scarves – and so has every other toddler who’s ever shared a class with us, now I come to think of it. His other favourite activity, meanwhile? Splashing into the water from the side of the pool, or from the mat:
(I say “splashing in”: on this particular occasion, he was so keen to get back into the water that he refused to wait for the instruction to jump, which is why there’s more flopping than splashing going on here. At least he’s enjoying himself, though…)
There’s some serious stuff mixed in with all of this, too, though: while jumping in is lots of fun, in every class, the toddlers are also encouraged to get into the pool safely (I.e. by turning round and lowering themselves in on their stomachs), and how to reach for the side of the pool, and hold on to it, when instructed. One of the main reasons I was keen to sign Max up for baby swimming lessons was so that he could get used to the water, and gain some confidence in it, before our upcoming trip to Florida, and I’m really happy with how much the classes have helped with that. He’s obviously not even close to being able to swim unaided yet (Which you wouldn’t expect, given his age), but I feel happier going to a house with a pool, and knowing that he is at least comfortable in the water, and knows what to expect. It’s also been a really fun thing for the two of us to do together (And, I mean, I’ve said it before, but those post-swim naps are EPIC, seriously…), as well as a good opportunity for Max to meet and interact with other children his age. (Not that they pay much attention to each other, obviously, but that’s toddlers for ya…)
Would we recommend baby swimming lessons with Turtle Tots, then? I think Max’s expression in the photo below is all the answer you need to that one:
If you want to see your little one smile like this, Turtle Tots have classes across the UK, and you use their website
to find the one closest to you. And just to prove how much we’ve liked it, although Max received his first block of lessons free of charge, as a Turtle Tots Ambassador, we’ve now signed up to continue with lessons for him, which we’ll be paying for ourselves: so if you do decide to sign up, we might just see you there!