You may have read my post a couple of weeks ago about how Toby has been crying at every swimming lesson since Christmas. There were a few things that might have been causing the problem and I got lots of advice from all you lovely readers.
Well, I have good news to report! Last week we couldn’t go to our normal swimming lesson because I was going to work, so instead we went on our own to a different leisure centre where they have a warm water pool. We also went in the middle of the day as I had a feeling getting up early and missing his nap was also upsetting Toby. It was a success! We did everything that we normally do in a lesson, including submersions, and Toby didn’t cry once. I wasn’t sure whether we would actually be able to swap our lesson to this other pool but our lovely Turtle Tots instructor sorted it out for us. The new lesson is at 11 am, rather than 9:30 am so it also means that, although it is still during nap time, Toby can either get a bit more sleep in the morning and a nap in the car on the way there, or if he is up early there is time to go back to bed for a quick nap before we go.
We went to the new lesson yesterday and it was great. Toby still wasn’t smiling and laughing but he wasn’t crying either which was a massive improvement. I’m sure as he gets used to it, and realises swimming doesn’t mean being cold anymore, that he will start enjoying himself soon enough.
And swapping swimming lessons has also had a useful side effect – we were going to move to the next Baby Sensory class (for 7-13 month old babies) which was at 10:30 am and so again I was worried that this would be a problem as it is during Toby’s usual nap time. The only other suitable class was at 1 pm on a Wednesday afternoon, which we couldn’t do as we had swimming in the morning and it would have been too much in one day. But now with swimming on a Monday we can go to Baby Sensory on a Wednesday and fingers crossed that will mean smiles all round!
We started going to Turtle Tots baby swimming classes when Toby was just over 3 months old. He’s never really seemed to love it but up until Christmas he didn’t have any problems in the pool and only ever cried for a couple of seconds, if at all. But since we went back, after a few weeks off over the holidays, he suddenly seems to hate it.
For the last three weeks Toby has spent at least part of each lesson crying. Sometimes it’s just a bit of sticking out of the lip and wimpering, but sometimes it’s full on screaming and it breaks my heart! This week he even had me crying too because he sounded so upset. I think getting Toby used to the water, and hopefully swimming while he is still very young is a fantastic idea but I’m not sure I can keep taking him when there is something about it which is clearly upsetting him. This week he started crying before we even got in the pool.
There are any number of things that might be wrong with him. First of all, the lesson is at 9:30 am a twenty-five minute drive away. Normally, Toby gets up about 8:30 am, has a bottle, a bit of a play, then another bottle and back in bed by 10 am at the latest. On swimming days I have to get him up early, he only has one bottle and (unless he has a quick nap in the car) he doesn’t get his morning sleep until after swimming is finished. The second problem could then also be that he is hungry – he’s normally had one and a half to two bottles within a couple of hours of being awake. Although, having said that he will never take a bottle straight after swimming so I don’t think he’s that hungry. In fact he’s always fine again as soon as we get out of the pool. So the last thing I can think of, and I’m hoping it’s this because it’s more easily fixed, is that he is feeling the cold. I don’t know why this would be bothering him more now than it did before Christmas, maybe the pool is a bit colder than it was. Anyway, he already uses a BabyWrap which I have mentioned before but I have now ordered a Warm in One from Splash About which is a full wetsuit with arms and legs. It’s fleece lined too so if he is cold then hopefully this will help. If not then my only other plan is to try and move to a class at a different time and see if that helps.
I don’t think I can go through many more weeks of my baby crying and screaming because of something I am making him do. I know I shouldn’t really blame myself; my husband has been great and tried to make me feel better by pointing out that Toby cries when I put his pyjamas on too, but that’s something that has to be done. I don’t have to take him swimming. Our Turtle Tots instructor has been great too, telling me that lots of babies have wobbles and Toby will get back into the swing of it. I hope so. I really don’t want to stop swimming lessons with Toby so if anyone else has any suggestions of what the problem might be and how we can fix it then please do let me know. Fingers crossed the new wetsuit does the trick and I’ll be sure to let you know how we get on. We have an underwater photo shoot booked for the end of March so I hope we get it figured out by then and Toby starts to enjoy his swimming again!
If you read my post about Toby’s swimming lessons you’ll already know we’re big fans of Splash About. I first came across them because our swim school, Turtle Tots, insist that all babies wear a Splash About Happy Nappy. As Toby was quite young when we started swimming (about 3 months) and he’s so skinny (so no fat on him to keep him warm!) we also bought a BabyWrap. Since then we have added to our Splash About collection with a hooded towel, a change mat (which the Splashers kindly sent us because they liked seeing Toby’s cheery pictures in his swimming gear on Twitter), and now our latest addition is the Après Splash All-in-One, which was a Christmas present from Grandma!
The Après Splash All-in-One is made from the same cotton bamboo charcoal towelling as the Splash About hooded towel. There a poppers all down the front and legs, so the whole thing (apart from the arms) opens out flat for easy dressing. It comes in four sizes – 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months, with either turquoise or pink trim.
- It’s very practical – the Après Splash All-in-One makes getting dressed after swimming an absolute doddle! I just dry Toby off, put his nappy on then lie him on top of the all-in-one and do up the poppers. It’s so much easier than trying to wrestle a tired and slightly cranky post-swim baby into everyday clothes.
- Because it’s towelling it doesn’t matter if Toby is still a bit damp when I put it on. The suit dries him off then keeps him nice and cosy for the journey home.
- It’s nice and roomy so great for wriggling in (as ably demonstrated by Toby in the photo below).
- It’s very easy to take off again – as we discovered when it got covered in porridge last week! I just undid the poppers while Toby was still in his highchair then lifted him out leaving the porridge covered all-in-one behind.
- The only minor niggle for me is the sizing. I know Toby is very long but even so he is only 6 months old and the 6-12 month size there isn’t much length in the arms and legs for him to grow into as you can see from the photos.
We love the Splash About Après Splash All-in-One. It has made our post-swimming experience much less hassle. I can imagine it would also be fantastic to use on holiday as it would be so easy to pop on your little one after they had been in the pool or the sea. You could even use it at home instead of a bath robe.
**Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.
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!
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.