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Baby swimming - PFB waste of money or essential life skill?

(43 Posts)
TwitchyTail Fri 24-May-13 16:12:43

I am a crap swimmer. I hate being in pools filled with eye-stinging chlorine and floating plasters. I know it's important not to drown though so was planning to get DS (now 3 months) lessons when he was school age or so.

But now half my antenatal group (NHS, not even NCT) have gone and signed up to some fiendishly expensive baby swimming class, and are brainwashing me into believing that if I don't start DS before 12 months it will be much harder for him to learn when he's older.

Is it worth it? It would just be for learning the skill really - we have plenty of other cheap baby groups for fun and socialising. Will it be more cost effective to do it when he's older or is there really a window of opportunity now?

Rockchick1984 Fri 24-May-13 16:46:34

I never took DS swimming until he turned 2. Within 5 weeks he can now doggy paddle happily around the pool, no issues with getting his face wet etc. Personally I don't see the point in taking a baby swimming unless you're going to stick at it consistently until they are about school age and old enough not to forget it within a few weeks of stopping!

nancerama Fri 24-May-13 16:51:51

DH has been taking DS since he was about 10 weeks old. They both love it and it's a great bonding experience for them, but we're under no illusions that it will turn him into a champion swimmer.

Since he was about 13 months he has been confidently jumping off the side and finding the pool edge and holding on. It's potentially a life saving skill, but I wouldn't want to test it out!

I don't think DCs miss out by not going, but it's a nice thing for Dads to do if they want to do something baby cynic without going to a traditional baby group.

nancerama Fri 24-May-13 16:52:25

Centric, not cynic!

bigbadbarry Fri 24-May-13 16:55:39

I've taken all three of mine swimming from a very young age - but this is because I love being in the water with them, not because I think it will make them Olympic swimmers. And the advantage of paying for the fiendishly expensive class (TM) is that ours are held in lovely deep warm hydrotherapy pools rather than anywhere chilly! I am a distinctly fair-weather swimmer.

4x4 Fri 24-May-13 17:14:47

I think its a lovely thing to do with a baby and a good way of meeting others but not really benefical unless you are constant. Mine
have been in pools since 3 or
so months year round ( we live
in the Gulf ) and had baby
lessons but compared to others who didn't - zitch difference .I wanted to do something active with them and HATE music groups so swimming was our thing.

PoppyWearer Fri 24-May-13 17:31:04

We did swimming with DC1 when she was a baby. It was horrifically expensive and she missed about the third of the lessons with one thing and another.

She learned a lot, but also developed a real fear of being "dunked" as the lessons did this repeatedly.

We stopped lessons around 18mo and have been taking her ourselves since then.

I know other teachers use more gentle methods such as a little watering can to splash water on babies' faces.

lljkk Fri 24-May-13 17:35:01

I tend to lean towards PFB but given you aren't confident in water I'm going to switch to Essential. It would be best if you could get over that sufficiently to help your child have a confident relationship with the water. I wouldn't go to a class, a fun-session couple of times a month would be better.

None of mine could swim independently until 5yo regardless of how little or how much we took them as babies/tots, etc.

fufflebum Fri 24-May-13 17:35:39

I would take DC for fun and because they like it.

Formal lessons not worth it until they are four or five depending on child.

My two children swim well, one started aged 4 they other aged 5 in formal lessons. However I took both swimming for fun when they were newborns, toddlers etc.

Don't listen to other parents in parent groups-peer pressure and panic!

Scruffey Fri 24-May-13 17:37:51

Paid classes aren't worth it IMO until the child is 2.5-3yo. In that time, you can take him yourself to get him used to the water. You don't really need to bother starting that until 8-12mo. If you are religious about swimming lessons from age 3 and take him a bit yourself, he will be a good swimmer. My dc are both good swimmers. Dd started lessons at 3.

harryhausen Fri 24-May-13 17:46:21

My dcs didn't start swimming until the eldest was 5 at formal lessons at the local pool. She's now 8 and a fantastic swimmer.

On the other hand, my friend ds (same age as dd) was taken informally to the pool every Sunday with his dad from about 6 months. He's now the youngest swimmer in the local swim club and is literally amazing. Lots of coaches get very excited about himsmile

Another friend did lots of these baby swim classes from age dot. The only difference I can see in her dd (now 10) is that they have lots of very expensive under water photographs around their house! ( she said a photographer came regularly to take and flog them pictures)

What I'm trying to say is, I guess very early swimming won't hurt at all. It doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive. Also, even if your dc's start much much later they'll still be able to swim, perhaps brilliantly.

Talk about a on-the-fence post!

nosleeptilever Fri 24-May-13 17:48:13

PFB waste of money until dc is a bit older imo. I did it with ds when 6 months until 9 months and then only sporadically since. He is now 2.8 and can't swim any better or worse than any other kid his age.
I do think taking him to the pool when they reach toddlerhood is good to get them familiar with water. I will put mine in lessons when he is old enough to go on his own. I'm not the joining type and don't like being pinned down to the same thing every week... until I absolutely have to!
I think any activity before the age of 2 is more for the parent than the child and can be good if socialising and getting out if the house is something you want but of little lasting benefit to dc.

TwitchyTail Fri 24-May-13 17:57:19

Thanks everyone! smile So it sounds like a general consensus is yes to taking DS swimming informally at this age, but maybe no to expensive lessons?

Any suggestions for what I need to take him? eg wetsuits or swim nappies, floats, or what?

bigbadbarry Fri 24-May-13 19:04:53

Just swim nappies - maybe a wetsuit if you find he is getting cold but I would say better to keep it short and get him dried off quick instead! Like somebody else said though, if you are not confident and fond of the water yourself, maybe some lessons - perhaps even just a term? - would give you some ideas for things to do with him and let you practice holding him in the water with somebody there who knows what they are doing? More for you than for him? (And no teacher worth their salt should be dunking a baby who dislikes it sad )

lolalotta Fri 24-May-13 20:50:13

I have taken my DD to Little duckling swimming lessons weekly since she was a year old. We have only missed one lesson! grin They aren't the crazy expensive ones, they are simply run by my local pool. Each lesson costs about £5.00, but seeing as it would cost me £4.25 to take her in myself this doesn't seem unreasonable to me! PLUS since she has turned three as she is taking lessons with the centre she gets into the pool for free during leisure sessions, otherwise we would need to paying for her too at this age! She shows no signs of being a champion swimmer winkbut she loves the routine of a weekly swim with me and enjoys the water! She can confidently jump off the edge of the pool, swim for miles with one of those woggle thingy float aids! I am sure that if we hadn't booked in for lessons I wouldn't have taken her as regularly so am pleased we booked up! The lessons seem quite gentle compared to the more expensive ones, no pressure for baby to do anything they aren't comfortable with!
Definitely worth checking out what your local pool has to offer IMO! Plus a have found a little wetsuit invaluable for her enjoying the water (mine is a splash about one I think) the temperature can be a bit unpredictable in our pool!

Beatrixpotty Fri 24-May-13 20:54:55

PFB waste of money but can be quite fun socially for mums.Did water babies with DS1 but not with the others,just went to free surestart swimming sessions when we were free.
They can't follow instructions until age 3 at the earliest.Go for the odd splash about for water confidence and save the money for when they are old enough to learn,especially if you don't like pools.

Beatrixpotty Fri 24-May-13 20:57:51

And just get swim nappies and swish & bounce them about in the water a bit & sing nursery rhymes.When start grabbing for toys get a couple that float& take them too.

Pascha Fri 24-May-13 21:00:02

A neoprene swim wrap is good because it keeps them warm and also makes it easier to keep a good grip on them. I feel a lot mire confident holding the baby in the water with it on.

cantbloodywellchoose Fri 24-May-13 21:02:19

I bloody hate swimming but DH loves it hence all our DC doing said fiendishly expensive swimming lessons from only weeks old. They are both bloody brilliant in the water now, super confident and v safe. But obv I have no idea what they would have been like if we hadn't bothered and waited til school age. I guess they might have been more reluctant to put their heads in the water etc? I DETEST putting my head under the water, urrrrrgh.

notasausage Fri 24-May-13 21:10:54

I did water babies from 3 months to 2.5yrs with DD1 and stopped because she didn't enjoy it any more. We continued to take her ourselves and she then started normal swimming lessons at 3.5. She can now swim about 10m unaided but she is generally well coordinated and an early developer so I don't think water babies had much to do with it - she went from going under water to refusing to put her face in.

DD2 hasn't done water babies but I have had the confidence to dunk her since 12 wks old having done those classes with DD1. I make a point of letting her face go under when she jumps in and try to go fortnightly to the pool.

As you are not confident in water, I would recommend a class like this for at least 1 term and see how you get on then make a point of going regularly.

I would say a swim nappy and a baby wetsuit will make it a happier experience in a local pool as they're chilly for little ones and don't do more than 30 mins at a time. I have used stuff from splash about and they wear really well.

NulliusInBlurba Fri 24-May-13 21:14:37

Not only was it a PFB waste of money, it was pretty counter-productive and gave her a real fear of water getting on her face until she was about 6! We persisted because it was the one thing that DH and DD1 did together on his free day each week - it was 'their' activity. I don't understand why she hated it so much - it wasn't the kind of place that dunked them all the time. But she just hated getting splashed on her face.

Perhaps it's had a good effect long term, though, now aged 14 she did a life-savers course last year that involved them jumping into a freezing cold lake at 7.00am each day. Now she's an excellent swimmer!

BettyandDon Fri 24-May-13 21:24:30

It was a total waste of money for my PFB as she hated it. Only did 6 sessions.

She started just going to the pool with her dad every weekend when about a year old and she still goes now at nearly 3. It is fun not lessons and they spend most of the time on the flume and enjoy eating biscuits afterwards.

TwitchyTail Fri 24-May-13 22:20:26

Thanks for replies, very helpful! I think I will try and find some el cheapo leisure centre classes rather than the Fancy Designer Baby Project ilk. Good idea to go for a term to get confidence and ideas.

Daft question alert, please reassure me: isn't there any problem with chlorine irritating their skin? It makes mine all tight, and given that you aren't supposed to put anything but water on their skin not that I stick to this And do they tend to pick up infections eg ear?

Can you tell it's my PFB grin

ReallyTired Fri 24-May-13 22:34:27

I took ds to swimming lessons as a baby and he endedup with loads of ear infections. I think its a bad idea to go swimming with a baby in winter or if they have a cold of any description. I believe that early swimming lessons gave him glue ear. All the baby swimming lessons are bobbing the baby up and down in the water and singing nursery rhymes.

I don't think you are being pfb worrying about chlorine. Some babies are prone to ezcema. If you have a shower afterwards and moisturise with an emoilant of choice it should help prevent ezcema. Some babies are as tough as a rhino and don't get ezcema.

dd starting swimming lessons when she was three years old (ie. last september.) She is very nervous, but I am sure she will learn to swim in due course.

pigleychez Fri 24-May-13 22:55:25

DD1 started swimming lessons (waterbabies) at 13mths.
DD2 started at 9mths.

They love their lessons and have become a big part of our weekly routine. Yes its expensive and we have prob spent a small fortune over the years but its life skill that could save their lives and id prefer them to learn this as soon as possible. Both girls are very confident in the water and use no flotation aids (armbands, Floats, rings etc)

DD1 is now 4.5 and can happily swim 25metres to the deep end, have a short breath and swim back again.
DD2 has just turned 3 and just got her 5metre badge.

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