babies · parenting · Raising children

Splish Splash…Our Water Babies beginning 

“Splish, splash, splish, splash…” As soon as Little Panda hears me sing this annoyingly catchy little ditty he smiles, laughs and speeds towards the stair gate to be let upstairs for bath time. My little water Panda loves bath time. There are a few things I accredit to this love of water, the first is the way he arrived in the world; taking his first swim in the birthing pool in a relaxed and blissful water birth. The second is that he’s always enjoyed a lovely, warm, splashy bath time with the water right up around his ears while we sing to him. The third is the amazing year we’ve spent learning how to swim with Water Babies. 
When my niece, Firecracker, was a baby her mum and dad enrolled her in Water Babies classes to give her the confidence and skills to be safe and enjoy the water. Towards the end of her final course she was fifteen months old and I volunteered to do her last few lessons with her. It was fabulous. I was very heavily pregnant with Little Monkey and even though she was a wriggly little worm I found it slightly mind blowing how natural she was in the water. When Little Monkey arrived I looked into enrolling but the £150 price tag put me off. 
I’ve always regretted that. I wish I’d bitten the bullet and just done it, so when Little Panda arrived the first thing I did (obviously after announcing his birth to friends and family) was email Water Babies to sign us up. He was five weeks old when we started and did his first underwater swim; which is no where near as scary as it sounds. They’re taught to hold their breath and kick to the surface and find the side of the pool to hold on. Life saving skills. 
At the end of our first chapter we did an under water photo shoot. This was fabulous, the pictures are amazing and show off how happy Panda is under the water. I won’t lie, the cost of the pictures is pricey and we didn’t buy one, another regret, but the experience was brilliant. 
We’ve come a long way since that first lesson. Little Panda is now thirteen months old, he dives, he glides, he ducks and kicks and knows how to hold on and climb out of the pool by himself; all skills that Little Monkey is just learning through his swimming lessons; three years Panda’s senior. His favourite part of the lesson is playing ‘Jelly on a Plate’ on a big float; he’s so confident now that he doesn’t even wait for the song he just tips himself off, under the water and kicks up to the surface, laughing and trying to clamber back on to do it again; it’s rare that we manage a full verse of the song without at least three attempts. 
It’s not just the life saving skills we’ve gained, it’s been the time together to share an experience that’s just for us, without The Husband and without Little Monkey and it’s the friendships we’ve made and cemented. Since the beginning, our teacher, Shelley has been amazing. She was part of our class for our first three chapters as she was on maternity leave with the gorgeous Henry, who is only a few weeks older than Little Panda. Between Shelley and our teacher for the first three chapters, Kerry, our group had brilliant lessons. We gossiped, we laughed, we supported and helped each other; getting each other’s babies dressed, drying costumes and changing nappies at warp speed while someone else took the opportunity to dry their hair and have a wee unaccompanied. Having two teachers was definitely a luxury and I have no doubt that we benefitted from it. 
After chapter three I thought our time with Water Babies was over; the end of maternity leave loomed and although I work four days a week, my day off didn’t fall on our swimming day. Then by the luck of the gods (and a time tabling error at work) my day off was changed to a Friday; swimming day. 
This chapter was different experience. Kerry had gone back to her usual classes, Shelley took over as her maternity leave had also ended, the other mums had gone back to work so there was me and Little Panda, another little boy and Henry when his dad was available to bring him. For a few sessions it was just me and Panda so we had one to one lessons. We covered so much in these lessons and Panda made oceans of progress. Swimming through a hoop under water? No problem. Climbing out by himself? Easy. Diving in and being able to find the side of the pool? Second nature. I feel I must point out here that as chapter four ended Little Panda had just turned one and these are skills his older brother is only just touching on in his more traditional lessons. To see Panda kicking away underwater and coming up, spitting water and smiling is quite fantastic to see. 
However, all good things must come to an end at some point and just before Christmas we had to choose between another chapter of lessons or a fun filled family Christmas. I would absolutely recommend Water Babies to anyone and the cost is well worth it for a valuable set of life skills, friends and an amazing bonding experience with your baby. 
Find out more about Water Babies by clicking here.