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Toby goes swimming

Splashabout BabyWrap

Toby and I have been going to swimming lessons for five weeks now. We go to a Turtle Tots class at a nearby pool. There are about eight babies in the class which is a nice amount – not too big and not too small. The classes are great; there’s lots of repetition from week to week to get the babies used to what is happening but we also build on the skills we are learning at each lesson.

Baby swimming is pretty amazing – did you know babies are born with a reflex that means they automatically hold their breath when they are submerged in the water. So from the second lesson we have been putting Toby under the water and letting go before bringing him back up again. Sometimes I get to go under the water too and watch him ‘swimming’ towards me and today he ‘swam’ through a hoop before I picked him up out of the water! The last couple of weeks we have also been teaching the babies to hold on to the side of the pool to keep their head above water – Toby is really getting the hang of that one too.

 I think it’s really important to teach children to swim when they are young as it’s definitely one of those things that gets harder the older you are. My mum took me swimming when I was young. I had both school and private lessons when I was in primary school and I can’t really remember ever not being able to swim. It meant lots of fun on family camping holidays in France and I’m sure it made life easier for my mum and dad, knowing that my brother and I were safe and confident in the water.

I’m really enjoying the lessons. Toby doesn’t always seem convinced but I’m hoping as we keep going he’ll start to visibly enjoy it more. I think that one of the reasons Toby isn’t looking like he enjoys swimming too much (apart from that his mum keeps dunking him under the water!) is because he gets a bit cold in the pool. The water temperature is apparently 30 degrees but the air temperature makes it feel a bit cooler than that, especially once his hair is wet. I’m glad then, that I decided to buy a Splash About BabyWrap which is a sort of baby wetsuit. You can see Toby wearing his in the photo at the top of this post. Splash About are the makers of the Happy Nappy; a neoprene nappy which can be used on its own or over a disposable or reusable swim nappy. Many baby swim schools (including Turtle Tots) insist that all the babies use a Happy Nappy as any leaks of solid waste into the pool would mean it would have to be closed to be thoroughly cleaned. The Happy Nappy and BabyWrap are both great and really do the job they are designed for well. It can be a bit of a wriggle to get the nappy on but that is because it has to be tight around the legs and waist to avoid any leaks. The BabyWrap opens out completely flat and then velcros in place so it’s really easy to get on and off quickly. And it really does help to keep Toby warm. When I take it off after the lesson his body is always toasty underneath. The only thing I would say about the BabyWrap is to watch out with the sizing. Toby is long but not especially big but the 0-6 month wrap that we originally ordered would barely meet in the middle so we had to order the 6-18 month size, which is a bit big but hopefully will last a lot longer!

I really wasn’t worried about taking Toby swimming. I knew I was confident in the water and we would be with a fully qualified instructor. The only thing I was a bit worried about was getting us both changed before and then dry and dressed afterwards without too much drama. I did a bit of research before our first lesson and came up with a few top tips.

  • Put your swimming costume on at home then you only have to worry about getting the baby ready before you swim (don’t forget to take underwear with you for after though!)
  • Get a waterproof changing mat so you can dress your baby on the floor. There may be special baby changing cubicles but if your pool is anything like ours there aren’t many and when you are at a baby swimming class there certainly aren’t enough. Putting your baby on the floor rather than one of the changing tables also means you can leave them safely while you put stuff in the locker. The mat you can see on the photo below was a gift from the lovely people at Splash About as they liked the photos we tweeted of Toby in his swimming gear. We also have a Huggies Little Swimmers mat which folds up into its own bag which is really handy.
  • Take two towels for your baby. This is a really great tip for a happy baby. I take one towel poolside so I can wrap Toby up as soon as we get out but this one gets soaking wet really quickly. So when we get to the cubicle I take his wet swimming things off, wrap him in the dry towel (another great Splash About purchase that you can see in the photo) and then he’s happy to kick about on the floor while I get dressed. I think I might invest in one of these towelling All-in-Ones soon though as Toby does have a habit of kicking his towel off when I’m busy getting dressed!

Splash About Après Splash Towel

If you haven’t taken your baby swimming yet I would really recommend it. It’s fantastic to see how much progress Toby is making every week. If you can I really think it’s worth going to organised lessons. Although I could have taken Toby to the pool on my own I don’t think I would have known where to start in actually starting to teach him the basics of swimming.

And finally, the added bonus of swimming lessons? After half an hour in the pool this morning, Toby came home, had his lunch time feed and has now been asleep for three hours and counting!

**Disclaimer: I was not given any goods or services in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

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5

Toby goes to sleep (or not!)

Sleeping baby

Nap time

Sleep. That illusive beast that all new parents seem to obsess about. I have to admit, I love my sleep. Before I was a mum it wasn’t unheard of for me to sleep for 12 hours or more (at least at the weekends when I didn’t have to go to work). I can nap pretty much anywhere and any time. Long car journeys or flights are no problem for me – I just sleep. So sleep, or lack of it, was one of the things that worried me most about being a new parent.

In in the early days there definitely was a lot of sleep deprivation…

BUT…

I’m going to get this bit out up front, and if you hate me for it then I totally understand if you don’t carry on reading. Toby is almost 17 weeks old and has been sleeping through the night for the last 5 weeks or so. And when I say he sleeps through the night I mean from about 6:30pm until about 8am (or sometimes even later). No waking up. No dream feeds. Just sleeping. And then he doesn’t even cry when he wakes up. Just lies there sucking his thumb and chilling out until one of us goes to get him up. This is what we are usually greeted by in the morning…

Smiling baby

Morning mum!

To be honest I think most of this is just down to good luck. We did start a bedtime routine of bath, feed, bed quite early on and we moved him into his own room when he was about 6 weeks old which helped us stop disturbing one another. We have always tried to put Toby into his cot awake so he has learnt to go to sleep on his own but apart from that I think we have just been lucky to have a baby who sleeps.

This wasn’t always the case though. Until we got Toby’s reflux under control with the proper medication his feeding and sleeping were all over the place. He wouldn’t feed very much in one go and so needed to be fed every couple of hours day and night. But once he could feed comfortably and take more at each feed he could go longer between feeds and his night time sleep started getting better. We did briefly experiment with a dream feed when we went to bed but then I read The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan** by Alison Scott-Wright which pointed out that waking a baby to feed him when you are trying to get him to sleep is somewhat counter-productive. I know dream feeds work for some people and I’m all for doing whatever works for you but it never seemed to make Toby sleep any longer anyway.

So, however we managed it (or rather Toby managed it!) we have a baby who sleeps fantastically at night. We have our evenings to ourselves and we get a full night’s sleep. And for that I am eternally grateful. But now we need to work on the aspects of Toby’s sleep that aren’t so great…the day time naps.

We do quite a lot of different activities during the week – Baby Sensory on a Monday, Bookbug at the library on Tuesday, swimming on Wednesday, meet another mum for a walk and coffee on Thursday – and this has meant that I haven’t really given Toby any consistency in his day time naps. He sleeps really well in his buggy or in the car but I really struggle to get him to nap for more that half an hour or so at home. Seeing as how his night time sleeping seems pretty sorted (although I am prepared for the fact that we might well go back to square one when teething starts) I’ve decided to try and get some sort of regularity into day time naps. We are starting with a post-lunch nap at about 12pm. My plan is to feed Toby, take him upstairs, clean nappy, curtains closed, into sleeping bag and then hopefully sleep! I was prepared for this to be quite hard work but actually for the last two days the plan has gone like a dream. Yesterday I put Toby down and he slept without any fuss for 90 minutes. As I write this he has been asleep for just over an hour! I’m sure there must be something wrong though – it can’t be this easy! Fingers crossed though that he is just going to accept this new nap and I’ll actually get an hour or two during the day to get stuff done.

So does sleep come easy in your house? Do you have a routine of bedtime and nap times or do you just let your little one take the lead? I don’t want to get into such a rigid routine that we can never go anywhere or do anything but I think I need some structure to the day and Toby needs to be given the best possible chance of sleeping when he needs it.

**I picked this book up in a charity shop and bought it because it has a great chapter about reflux but the sleep advice is pretty common sense and I found it quite useful too.

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4

Toby goes to the library

We’re lucky that our local library is only a 10 minute walk away (although I must confess I hadn’t been there until Toby was born). There is a great children’s area in the library and the first time I went they said ‘don’t worry, we don’t shush here!’. They also run a weekly Bookbug Baby Rhymetime session which is half an hour of songs with 5 minutes in the middle to look at a book. Bookbug is a scheme run by the Scottish Book Trust which includes sessions in libraries, a library challenge (Toby has already got his first sticker for taking out some books!) and free books for all children in Scotland. There are four Bookbug packs which are given out and Toby should be getting his first one soon.

I think the library sessions are a great idea – and evidently so do lots of other people as there was a waiting list to get in the group! We went to our second session today; I think Toby was probably the youngest baby out of the 15 or so that were there but they all really seemed to be enjoying themselves. We do quite a lot of different activities during the week with Toby but only because we are lucky enough to be able to pay for them, so it’s good that there is something available locally for babies (and mums and dads) which is completely free. Added to which getting kids interested in reading as early as possible can only be a good thing.

Toby might have been the youngest baby at the session this morning but he’s getting so big now. At the weekend I cleared out all the 0-3 month clothes and got out all his 3-6 month ones. Everything was a bit on the small side but also I was just getting a bit bored of the same clothes so now we’ve got a whole new wardrobe of clothes to choose from every morning! So here’s Toby today – looking particularly autumnal I think…

Autumn baby

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