The big transition from baby and toddler swimming

I couldn’t imagine not having swum with N from a young age. My own journey with learning to swim was very up and down from age 5 to 7, and the OH isn’t keen on swimming, so I wanted to make sure N was capable of swimming as a child.  We started his lessons at 3 months old along with most of my NCT group in a Water Babies class together.

What's the big transition from baby swimming to child swimming lessons - Bubbablue and me

In the 5 1/2 years he’s been to swimming lessons, we’ve had an emotional roller coaster. As a baby he was ambivalent about the water, but was happy enough being moved around in the water.  But when he started cruising and trying to walk, we hit a year of water wobbles where he moaned every lesson and refused to join in.  The support from our teacher was amazing. We were put in touch with another parent who went through the same thing with one of her boys.  But one day it miraculously just clicked and suddenly he was back enjoying the water instead of clinging to me. Of course, N being N still wanted to do it in his own way and time.

By his graduation from baby and toddler swimming he was still the only one in the class not to swim 10 metres unaided.  Then N went into normal children’s swimming lessons.  A lot of Water Babies find it hard swimming on top of the water rather than underwater, but N didn’t have that problem.

ready for swimming

A year later, he’s still not swimming without a swim belt.  After Water Babies where they go in the water without a float belt, it was a surprise to him. (they couldn’t touch the bottom of the pool when he first changed lessons hence the float belt, plus it helped with body position).  N is definitely a natural sink rather than swim child unfortunately.  But I’m optimistic he’ll get there.  The aim is to be able to swim reasonably well on back and front by the time he’s going to swimming lessons with school in another year’s time.in year 2.

My best memory and the moment I’m most proud of in N’s swimming journey is the move to these swimming lessons.  That meant he’d be in the pool on his own for the first time.

I was worried about him wearing a swim belt for the first time.

Agreeing to wear a swimming hat.

Taking part in all activities.

But there was no need to worry. N sat on the side before the lesson with his new swimming buddies, answered the register, and in the pool he did every single thing asked of him.  Even star floats which he had always refused in toddler swimming lessons.  All with a smile on his face.  Every change in the lessons he took in his stride.

I think not having me with him in the water gave him confidence.  Riding his bike well has also helped strengthen his legs so he’s got a really good kick now.

I thought it would take a long time for him to move up a level, but this year he and 2 others were moved up to level 3.  He’s the only one in his class with a float belt still (we’re down to 2 bars, and I’m hoping after swimming in half term, we might be able to remove another bar), but he’s been doing really well, even with learning all of the technical stroke components.   We just need to get him swimming without his float belt, and for him to continue swimming rather than giving up after a few strokes.

swimming alone
More holiday swimming needed!

The biggest transition has been how much N loves going swimming now. After the year of swimming hell as a toddler, his reaction to going in the pool on his own has been a revelation. N really enjoys the water, works hard in his lessons, and wants to improve.  I’ve enjoyed being able to have that bond while he’s been learning.  Oh, and he always asks to go swimming in the school holidays which isn’t always as possible as he thinks given we usually holiday in the UK without pools.

How did your children take to switching between baby classes going in the pool with you, to switching to normal children’s swimming lessons without you?

Dear Bear and Beany

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18 thoughts on “The big transition from baby and toddler swimming

  1. Ah we love swimming, the boys have been going since they were 6 months old and Leo is 3 now and can swim a length under the water which i find just amazing! It is expensive but I can’t think of anything that would beat learning to swim! #sharingthebloglove

  2. I’m glad he’s like the water. We haven’t been to a pool with Peachy yet and she’s 14 months old. I was just thinking about going with her soon. I plan on teaching her myself as I’m a half decent swimmer. I have no problem with water. I do have a bit of a problem squeezing this post baby body into a bathingsuit. But for Peachy, I am unstopable. #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. I know that issue with swimming cossies. I take heart in however much weight I’ve put on, there’s always someone bigger. I wouldn’t have known what to do with N, but there’s no reason to do lessons. Hope she enjoys it when she goes

  3. Glad your little boy loves swimming it’s such an important life skill. I’m hoping my boy (who’s only 5 months old) is a water baby.. your post shows me that we’ve got a long journey ahead!! #SharingtheBlogLove

  4. Hi Emma, your kid is very adorable and thank you for sharing this post “The big transition from baby and toddler swimming” which is very brilliant idea for kids, and I hope kids also participate to swim with excited love and fun.

  5. We’ve been really lucky with Pops. We took her swimming ourselves every few weeks – couple of months as a baby. We only started in Puddle ducks when she turned 3. By 4 years old she could swim 10metres unaided, star float and surface dive. She loved it when I no longer went in with her – independent girlie! The puddle ducks classes wouldn’t let her move up class because she wasn’t at school and she was already in the last class of the preschool ones.
    We moved her to the community pool lessons and she’s still doing great, now nearly 5 she’s almost done her 25 metres. I think they all get it at some point. I just want to keep it fun for her.
    She hates her hat though! I also think she’s getting a little bored 🙁
    #SharingTheBlogLOVE

    1. That’s really good. I’m not sure that N would be able to star float without a float. His legs just sink and doesn’t seem to get the ‘push the bottom or tummy up to the ceiling’ theory. It’s annoying he had to wear a float belt changing to normal lessons because with water babies he didn’t have them, although he would have struggled to get the technique and body position without, even if he could touch the bottom. He’d have spent most of the lessons walking rather than swimming!

      I’m just pleased that he enjoys swimming because he didn’t for so long.

      Thanks for stopping by

  6. We did water babies and then hit the hating it stage so stopped for a few months. Now my daughter (who’s just turned 2) loves to swim for fun and will have fun on the surface but still hates going under. We’re not forcing it and hope she will get past it and something will just click. It’s good to hear your son is enjoying it and something just clicked, there’s hope for us yet!! #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. The underwater bit is hard. Our instructor was good and gave us other activities or knew just when N would allow it. Once they’re in normal swimming lessons it’s worked up to a bit more. Have you tried goggles? When they hit 2, something in their eyes change which doesn’t help with underwater. Many swim schools don’t like goggles but might be worth trying (didn’t work for us because N just fiddles with them the whole time and won’t keep them on for a whole lesson)

  7. Alice has been going swimming since she was 12 weeks old and she moved over to lessons on her own last September. Since then she is so much better at swimming, I am amazed at how well she has done already. Holly is still at the stage with me in the pool. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. It is amazing how much they progress. N has become so much stronger (all the bike riding helps), but he struggles keeping afloat. We watched the level below his (all much younger children) who swim at the same time, try for 10 metre badges this week. 3 of them had their float belts removed (all wear 4 bars), all 3 swam 10m on their front and then on their back. I couldn’t believe it. N’s never had the chance with his teacher because he’s always had a swim belt on, and the weeks he’s off sick always seem to be the week they’ll try them. Similarly another boy from his old class was given the chance to try 10 metres. Never swum without a swim belt (usually wears 6 bars), and managed his 10 metres too. Gutted for N because he never seems to get the chance, but I’m hoping he might try this half term, then we can go into class and ask the teacher to test him.
      It’s hard for him because his level 3 class is mostly all year 2s and much stronger children, and they do a lot of technique – the last 2 weeks was all breast stroke legs). The other level 3 class after his with the other teacher, are mostly year 1s, and seem to be doing less technique.

  8. That’s great that he’s really started to enjoy it and make progress. We did the Water Babies classes for two terms but I ended up stopping them as Max was becoming increasingly upset with every lesson and absolutely hated being thrust underwater. We’ve been just taking him ourselves to the local pool to build up his confidence and he’s started enjoying it again and I’m starting to wonder about starting up lessons again but I think we’ve fallen into a bit of a gap now between baby classes and ones where they go in without parents. He’s nearly 3, but I think he’s a long way off being ready for those types of lessons. Your worries are all the same ones I have – I don’t think there’s any way I’d get a swimming hat on Max (although he’s finally this week accepted wearing a helmet for his scooter, so we’re finally making progress on the hat front!) Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. You may be surprised about him being able to go in the water. Some classes are small and have several teachers who go in the pool with them. Our classes do a ducklings class that starts at 3yo (some who’ve done a bit of swimming already they’l accept a little younger). There’s about 6-7 of them and 1 teacher usually in the pool until they’ve been going a while. The teacher’s gruff with the parents and a little scary really but the kids love her.. And swimming hats – I think if it comes from the teacher it helps. Quite often they’ll just ram one on a child’s head if the parent can’t get it on, and that’s it. Child makes no more fuss. It’s funny how they react differently to a teacher than the parent, who’s anxiety and worry rubs off. (tip if he ever needs a hat, look out for the fabric ones, they’re easier to get on, more comfy and they can always wear them in the bath)

      1. Thanks for the fabric hat tip – definitely bearing that in mind! I think we’ll keep taking him and see how he goes once he’s over 3 – he still seems far too little to me to be going in for lessons on his own, but you’re right, it’s amazing how different he can be when I’m not around.

        1. Quite often they learn faster when they’re a bit older too – 6 is meant to be the optimum age. My experience is also that kids who swim with their dads get thrown around a lot more, and are more confident in the water, and learn faster – mostly because dads are more competitive and tell them what to do instead of letting them do their own thing. So as long as he’s going swimming with you guys, he’ll be learning anyway

  9. Ah, that’s great. We tried and tried with swimming and the Tubblet didn’t take to it at all. Such as shame as it’s such an important life skill and she loves her sport.

    1. I think sometimes you just have to work through it. N knows that once he can swim reasonably, he can stop lessons. Plus he wants to be able to swim before he goes with school.

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