Swimming classes were one thing I knew I definitely wanted to do when I was pregnant with both of my babies. My love for swimming started at a really young age and it's something I get a lot of joy from, whether I'm swimming laps or floating around atop the water like a glorious manatee! I have fond memories of doing classes as a small child and Sunday morning swims with my dad and big brother and I couldn't wait to recreate that love with my children. Luckily for me Lily loves the water as much as I do. Even when she was tucked away in my tummy she seemed to enjoy a good splash, rolling around and kicking like crazy whenever I went swimming or swooshed about in the bath. And out of my tummy she is exactly the same.
We started with Turtle Tots when Lily was 11 weeks old. I wondered whether she was too little but a quick read on their website told me the earlier they get used to the water the better. New environments and activities are always going to take a little bit of time to get used to with a tiny human but I was surprised at how quickly Lily took to it. The first week she managed 20 minutes before she cried so much I had to get her out and flop my boob out of my cossie and into her gob but by the third lesson there were no tears and we lasted the whole half an hour! Two terms later and as soon as she realises where we are she waves her arms and legs around with glee and the second she's in that warm water she splashes and shrieks with joy! It is amazing to see and never fails to make me laugh.
|First Level 1 class vs. first Level 2 class!|
Underwater swimming is an exciting, fun and important part of the class. Almost everyone I've told about Turtle Tots has gasped at the fact that Lily goes under the water which makes me chuckle because although the first few times are a bit nerve wracking for the parents the babies barely bat an eyelid! It sounds scary but one of the big benefits of starting classes when babies are young is that they still have their breath-holding reflex. This means that the soft tissue at the back of their throat seals the windpipe when they're underwater so if any water does go into their mouths it's directed into their tummy. Even though this reflex diminishes as they get older they quickly relearn it. From the very first lesson we started practicing a cue to prepare them for their first underwater swim a couple of weeks in. Even at Level 3 we still do it a couple of times at the beginning of the lesson before their underwater swim and we do it at home during bath time. Practice definitely makes perfect because after a few weeks Lily started preparing herself and now when she hears her cue she grins like a loon, close her eyes and scrunches her face up ready! Turtle Tots also run underwater photoshoots every term which produce wonderful photos. We haven't managed to get to one yet but I'm hoping we will this term.
Aside from swimming being a lovely bonding experience with your baby, it's such an important life skill to have. The half an hour of fun activities that make up the class are designed to teach babies the skill of swimming whilst being safe and secure in the water. For example one of the exercise we do teaches babies to turn around in the water and hold on to the side so, god forbid, they ever fall into water they know how to manoeuvre themselves round to find something secure to hold onto. The underwater swimming plays an important role in teaching babies to be confident in water so again, should anything ever happen, they know how to hold their breath until they reach the surface. The classes are also designed with mums in mind; incorporating toning exercises gentle for postpartum bodies and as baby gets bigger the act of supporting them in the water, lifting them and swooshing them around certainly gets your muscles going!
The social aspect is a big bonus too. We went along with a couple of mum and baby friends we have but have met many more. The cake, tea and catch up afterwards is always really lovely and helps to breathe a bit of life into me if I've spent a few days at home with no grown up interaction!
If you want to get your little one in the water I highly recommend Turtle Tots (the post swim naps alone are worth it!). They have over 44 licensed teachers across the UK and Ireland so chances are there will be a class near you. You can check their website or search for them on Facebook (search for Turtle Tots + your location, eg. Turtle Tots Northamptonshire) where they often run joining offers as well as competitions. Classes start from newborn right through to toddler and all teachers are qualified to the highest level so your precious babies are safe in their hands. We absolutely love our instructor, Sally, she is a large part of what makes our lessons so fun and it's clear to see how passionate she is about what she does. She makes such an effort with each baby and it's lovely to see how well the babies respond to her. We definitely lucked out with Sally!
I'm so glad we joined Turtle Tots and I can't wait to see what Level 3 brings!
Mrs D x
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