Guest article by Rowan Bradford of Water Babies Devon and Somerset.
Despite dads being much more hands-on parents nowadays, when a baby is born it’s still mum who generally has the most opportunity to bond with their child. But swimming with your baby in bath-tub warm waters is a truly delightful experience for dads and mums alike.
Babies love being in water – as you’ll see from the smiles and gurgles around the pool. And swimming from birth is entirely natural. After all, they’ve just spent nine months in the womb!
“Generally, babies start swimming at around six weeks,” explains Rowan Bradford who runs classes throughout Devon & Somerset. “Though it’s becoming increasingly popular for dads to bring them earlier as this then becomes their special time with baby, right from the start. The warm water amplifies positive emotions within a fun, shared activity. And weekend classes and those at the end of the working day are perfect for dads, who are often still working full-time.”
Despite looking very gentle, each half hour lesson provides a complete physical workout – exercising and strengthening muscles they’d never even find on land. With obesity rates doubling over the last ten years, it’s vital that children see their parents as active role models.
Dads get the Swimming Bug with Water Babies
“Getting our babies used to exercising from birth is something of which we’re really proud,” says Rowan. “My partner Lee took our son to his Water Babies classes and enjoyed the opportunity to do something ‘sporty’ together before our little boy could even walk.”
Water Babies classes are a great way for parents to exercise and learn new skills. “One of our core philosophies is that we are teaching you to teach your baby to swim,’ Rowan continues. “So we’ll always explain why we’re doing everything, as well as carefully demonstrate exactly what to do.”
The other obvious benefit is water safety. Sadly, drowning is still the third highest cause of accidental death among children in the UK. However, with carefully structured training, babies can be taught lifesaving skills such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object.
“And if the confidence of knowing you’re making your child safer in water isn’t enough to drag yourself out of bed at the weekend, I don’t know what is,” suggests Rowan. “Especially as you’re almost guaranteed to have a really good time!”
There’s normally no need for your baby to have had their immunisations before going swimming for the first time. However, if your baby was premature, or you have any other medical concerns, check with your doctor first.