A continuation of our articles on teaching your baby to swim. We tried Amélie out at the public baths for the first time on Friday, and today she had her 8th lesson with waterbabies which was a bit of a disaster.
If you have been following these articles just to find out about techniques you can use to teach your baby to swim, then I'd better start by saying there are no new techniques in this article. The first 7 all contain useful information, this is more about our experience during the 8th lesson (disastrous) and also taking her to the public baths for the first time.
Last Friday we took Amélie to the public baths for the first time. I swim every Tuesday and Friday, so last Friday when I'd finished my laps Amélie was waiting for me to take her to the kiddies pool while Clare did her laps.
There were only two other children there and they were much older than Amélie. When I saw them with their armbands I was struck by how advanced Amélie is from having her weekly lessons. We did most of the usual moves including the underwater swim. The problem was that the pool was so much colder than the one where she has her lessons. She felt so cold, and was shivering so I had to call Clare over from her laps early so she could spend some time with her.
Amélie seemed to enjoy swimming with Clare much more than with me. When I'm with her she looks quite serious and concentrated, with Clare she was smiling much more. She only really got 10 or 15 minutes in the pool and we had to leave as we felt she was just too cold. If we get the chance we are going to give it another go this Friday, her booster injections are due though so we may leave it a week or so.
Today we had our 8th formal lesson, to be honest it was pretty disappointing. I think Amélie is getting bored with the same old routines now. At home the only time she really cries nowadays is if she is bored, we have to entertain her or distract her to keep her happy. If you have her facing you she curls her lip and cries, she is much happier facing out watching everything that is going on.
During the last 4 lessons I've detected she was getting bored and restless, I've known that she is going to cry any moment so have turned her away from me to face out. This always does the trick as she loves to watch the other babies. This lesson we did so much bouncing, and swim position where she is facing me that she got bored and started curling her lip. Pretty soon she was in a bad mood and it was all I could do to distract her and keep her from crying.
When it came to the part where you say 'Amélie ... Ready ... Go' and splash water on their head I knew she would start to cry. In the early days when she was 6 or 7 weeks old this didn't bother her, but now she hates it. We had to do it 3 times and she was crying after the first time, then we had to go into swim position. Well she was already bored and now she was angry, the worst thing you can do with Amélie when she is like this is look her in the eye, which is like a red rag to a bull. She was now crying even more so I moved to the side and tried to calm her. Once she had stopped I joined in again and guess what? We had to do 3 more of those splash water on their face moves! I wasn't going to do them, but thought I'd get right back on the horse so to speak. Big mistake another big cry so I decided to sit out and comfort and distract her instead.
When we joined in again it was the move where you dunk them and let go. I kept her facing the other babies to watch them do it which kept her happy. When it came to her turn you could see in her face she knew what was coming and wasn't happy. When she came to the surface she was very unhappy and never recovered the whole lesson. The next move was the moving underwater swim and letting go. We were called one by one, I didn't know what to do.
The problem was that I was in new territory. This is our first baby, and I've only had 3 months experience. The instructor didn't give any guidance, so I didn't know if it was better for Amélie that we continue through the crying, or better for her to be comforted, or to stop, or to miss out certain aspects that she doesn't like. Everything just carried on relentlessly, my instincts told me that I should make it more fun. Get Clare involved and horse around in the water to make her laugh. I couldn't just do that in the middle of a lesson with 10 other babies though.
I was ready for the move and Amélie was crying, in the absence of any other guidance I asked the instructor if it was really a good idea to do this and she agreed we shouldn't do it. I spent the rest of the time trying to keep her from crying, the next move was on their backs in cradled head position. She immediately started screaming, I persevered for a few seconds but she was thrashing about and I think it would have been easy for her to swallow a load of water if we were not careful. So I went to the side again.
The instructor came over and asked if we were going to continue the lesson. I was kind of wanting her to tell me that, as I didn't know if it were better to ignore the crying or submit to it. I decided that in the absence of any expert advice that we should call time on the proceedings and pull out. Minutes later we were in the car and on the way home feeling pretty flat.
For the first 5 lessons things went great, we both enjoyed ourselves. The past 3 lessons have been less enjoyable for us, Amélie especially. I think we need more one on one advice, with 10 babies in a lesson and only 30 minutes there is no time for that. We spend most of our time doing drills (bouncing, splash splash, swim position) which by now Amélie doesn't really enjoy and I think finds boring. I will report back after our next lesson which I hope will be much more positive but I fear could be just as trying. Until then, happy swimming and above all else I hope you manage to have a lot of fun.