Baby separation anxiety at swimming

One of the groups we decided to do was swimming.  I’m really keen that N will enjoy being in the water, not be scared of it and be a good swimmer at an early age.  I quite enjoy swimming although don’t go much myself any more, so it would be good to be able to take him when he’s able to swim and do some exercise & have some fun at the same time.

The majority of my NCT group managed to get on a Waterbabies class together which we started around May time.  I’d already taken N to the local leisure centre pool a couple of times and he didn’t seem to worried about the water, plus he’s always been ok in the bath.  So I thought the lessons would be quite uneventful.  How wrong was I?!

First of all he only really cried when he was dunked (fair enough), and gradually he started to enjoy it a bit more until the last 2 weeks of the term.  And then he just screamed throughout, for seemingly no reason.  The teacher was really good though – they have a great understanding of the issues that can cause babies to start disliking swimming, and it seemed like it may have been teething that was the issue with N.  I was quite relieved that there was the long summer break as I think it ended up having a positive effect on him and we started afresh in September.

He was like a new baby; no real different in what we did – same sleep beforehand, same timings for bottle & food.  The only thing different was we didn’t remove his amber anklet and moved him up a size in happy nappy.  He would start splashing as soon as we got in the pool, grinning away, and would paddle with his arms as well as kicking away.

Chase the fishy, reach out long…one of his favourite activities

But then we got to week 7, and it’s all gone tits up again.  No more specific teething period (he’s got 8 teeth so I think he’s just permanently teething given the amount of dribbling and drool that’s produced on a daily basis).  A couple of weeks I think he was in the lead up to being a bit off colour, but otherwise there’s no explanation.

So, we have nothing where he’s on his back (we have to go on his front), anything with a toy to chase he’s fine, we miss out on most of the underwater exercises because he’s crying, he’ll only hold on to the side without me doing the safety bit helping him (and then not for long).  He’s also now started crying at exercises he used to like.  And cried when I put him on the mat so I can get in the pool.  Nightmare.

The teacher has suggested he’s showing all the symptoms of separation anxiety kicking in and wanting to be independent which hits babies around now, especially once they’re crawling, and starting to pull themselves up/walking.   He’s definitely at that stage, and he’s become a bit more clingy at home interspersing playing with wanting to be with me.  He’s also in the next ‘wonder weeks’ development phased (week 42-46), so I think everything’s hitting at once.  Obviously on dry land, they can move about at will without mum and then return, but in the pool there’s no independence to be had.

It is quite despairing, when all the other babies enjoy the swimming and he’s the only one crying (pretty much all lesson).  Plus I’ve paid a lot of money for the lessons, much of which we can’t take part in/progress at because he can’t do the underwater bits when he’s so stressed out.  But luckily the teachers are understanding and know alternative exercises we can do; they can advise me on what to do to reassure him.  And we just have to wait it out as I’m not giving in when he does usually love the water and splashing around in it.

Thankfully bath times haven’t suffered.  I’m also lucky that most of our class are my NCT friends which means they know he’s not usually so miserable, and are probably more sympathetic than people who we don’t know, but it is quite demoralising.  I’m just pleased it’s an organised set of classes we go to, as if we’d had this on a general family trip to the pool I’d probably never have taken him back again.

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