I am a total water baby, I love it, adore it even. The sensation of being surrounded by water, floating around and diving in and out of it is the most natural and relaxing thing in the world to me.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone, a lot of people don’t take to water so happily, but I started at the age of dot. My parents would take my sister and I swimming in our pool before we could even mutter a goo goo gah gah – rumour has it that my father actually threw me straight in the pool upon arriving home from the hospital (this has been exaggerated by me over time, naturally). From starting so early I never had a fear of the water, in fact I positively thrived in there. From a sports perspective it was hugely beneficial too, I swam competitively to a very high level in both England and South Africa through my teenage years.
Getting a baby comfortable in water as early as possible has so many benefits, one being that babies have an innate swimming or diving reflex from birth until about six months much the same as dolphins or otters. They immediately seal off their glottis causing a loss of drive to breathe and they slow their heart rate down by 20%. Sealing off the glottis stops the baby from choking and sends the water straight to the stomach instead. So, When Rex was 10 days old we took him to the Baby Spa on Kensington Church street in London (this has now closed due to redevelopment but will be opening again soon in a different location. They have sites in South Africa, Australia and Spain also.) for his first water experience in the real world. It was absolutely magical. The Baby floats around in a small pool with a little floatation device clipped round his head and basically has the best half hour ever just chilling and listening to an array of Disney songs played on the panpipes (whats not to love). Following the floatation there is a full body massage…I know. There’s even a beautiful room for mummy’s to go and feed their babies or just kick back and read a magazine should they wish to. The best way of explaining this is through the medium of video….feast your eyes on my little Rex being treated like a king at the baby spa.
Following our incredible time at the baby spa, we couldn’t wait to start him at proper swimming lessons, so at the rather tender age of 6 weeks we signed him up to start lessons with Little Dippers. Another reason to get your little ones in the water early doors is safety in and around the water. Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death worldwide and Little Dippers focus is strongly on safety and commands in the water.
We went to the Chelsea pool which is a hydrotherapy pool within the beautiful grounds of the Royal Hospital so the temperature is lovely and warm for the babies. There are seven stages to the programme which takes around a year to complete, although Rex was invited to attend an advanced class following that #humblebrag – Our teacher, Lisa, was genuinely the loveliest lady and the children just love her and vice versa.
We found the benefits to be endless, from safety, to helping with bath time, sleep, developing the respiratory system, coordination etc etc.
Now I could drone on about how swimming rules and how much fun it is to go dipping and diving in and out of the water in a pool, in the sea or where ever without your child screaming bloody murder, but instead I’m going to show you through the medium of video (please note that my seemingly not so camera shy husband has taken the limelight in almost every video as I play director on the sidelines or under the water, harumph).
Yes I know, I have been perhaps the tiniest bit overzealous in my use of video content in this blog, but honestly I am constantly amazed by the ability that babies have, not just in the water but in their entire being. They are brave, bold and resilient and in the first months of their little lives are able to teach us that Mark Twain was right when he said ‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear’