I discovered upon the onset of motherhood, from the moment I found out I was pregnant, that I was terrified of everything bad that could happen to my child. The primary thing my paranoid mommy brain focused on though was drowning. It didn’t matter the size of the body of water, it was a drowning threat. I didn’t want him to go to people’s houses with swimming pools or ponds or bath tubs or properties that formed puddles when it rained. So, we began swimming lessons when he was less than a year.
Most facilities begin parent and me swim lessons for infants at 6 months of age. My son loved the water immediately and it was a great way for the two of us to do something fun together. I let my husband do the first sessions in the water with Gray, but that’s mainly because I was not getting into a bathing suit yet. Babies and children may not adapt immediately and may cry or flat out throw fits to avoid participating. Know that your instructors are trained to deal with hesitant or fearful children. Even if your child screams through the entire lesson, stick with it. Don’t worry about what the other parents in the class think- Screw them, you’re providing your child a necessary skill and next week it will probably be their child screaming.
Most programs will have you submerge your baby on the first lesson. My husband completely dunked our son. The mommies in the class that did little more than splash their baby’s face seemed a little alarmed, but he did just fine, minus a little sputtering. My son’s biggest hesitancy was being on his back in the water. He was like a puppy that didn’t want to be rolled over, but back floating is the most important skill a child needs to learn. If they were to fall in a body of water, they can float until an adult finds them or until they make it to the side. Our swim club teaches them to climb out from an early age and to wall walk with their hands, down the side of the pool. Later, as they begin swimming, floating will allow them to save themselves if they become distressed due to fatigue or cramping. Different facilities have different curriculums so visit a few places.
We tried out several swim schools before we found the Houston Swim Club. Their primary goal is water safety and once those skills are learned, then lessons on traditional swim strokes are focused upon. You have to find a facility that you are comfortable with. I live in the Houston area where there are many different places that are freestanding swim clubs rather than being a class offered through the YMCA or local rec center. You may be limited to one or two options, but take advantage of whatever resources you have for water safety.
Gray is now over two and a half and is able to float on his back and doggy paddle across the pool. We are actually getting into swim lessons instead of don’t drown lessons. I know if he fell in a pool he would be able to float on his back and make his way to the edge and climb out, and at this point, jump back in for the fun of it. Yes, I still worry about riptides, flash flooding and fountains, but I know within the realm of realistic aquatic threats, Gray is well prepared to save himself.