You love vacation! The mixture of the pool, the beach and the sunny days brings you and the wife back to the sun kissed shores every year. Then you had a baby. Back in the good old days you just threw a swimsuit, a couple pesos and clean underwear in a bag and you were off.
Now vacation means packing an assortment of “other” less fun items such as diapers, wipes, creams, pack-n-plays, kid books, toys, curtain clips, sound machines, blankets (because who knows who did what with whom on those hotel sheets), stuffed animals and special foods. If you are lucky, the wife will remember to pack you along as well. Of all the things to possibly be stressed about, what you don’t want is to actually get to the beach and be MORE stressed. This means you do NOT want to be chasing your young one all over the resort worried that she might fall into the pool.
Doesn’t it sound much better to order 2 sides of guacamole instead of playing Daddy Day Care the entire trip? Wouldn’t you rather play a game of volleyball instead of sit with your wife and keep the baby tucked at your side? With that said, here are our top 8 reasons to teach your baby to swim.
1. Baby will know what water is
“Ohhh it looks so shiny and smooth, I wonder what it feels like?” If this isn’t going through your infant’s head now, it will once he starts crawling. There is no reason for any baby to want to experience water once they start swim lessons. Getting dumped in water, soon he has carnal awareness of what that big hole filled with sparkly stuff is.
It’s water. It’s wet. And it sucks to get in without Mom and Dad. His mind is now wired to say “I want nothing to do with that stuff.”
In fact it’s likely that what you will need to do is keep getting your baby in the pool (or ocean/lake/river) to NOT be afraid of the water. There is a balance to this and this is what your instructors will help you with.
2. It’s easy to get started
Many cities have lessons taught by their local pool or YMCA. In the event you do not have a city/government program, there are infant swim classes taught by programs such as Infant Aquatics or Infant Swim Resource.
There are more and more of these infant/toddler survival lessons popping up by the month. Dr. Google surely will have more local solutions for you.
3. Your son or daughter is safe
The goal is twofold with safety: 1) to take away the sexiness of the shimming cool blue stuff as mentioned above, and 2) to learn to stay alive when you are in it. These are baby survival classes at their core – at minimum.
That being said, parents at the first lesson often have to hold their breath as they watch their baby cry and struggle. The crying is what they are suppose to do as they are getting their fresh air and alerts grown up people to “a big potential problem”.
Never fear, the instructors know what they are doing. Besides think of it this way, wouldn’t a drowned student at swim lessons be bad for business?
4. Learn to swim before walking
If a baby falls in water she needs to first try and swim for a few seconds, rest via floating, and then try and swim again to safety. It’s called the “Swim Float Swim.” If your baby can swim float swim, or at least have the basics of that, it makes walking around the pool so much easier on mom and dad.
When your daughter is walking around the pool (or crawling for that matter), all it takes is a turn of your head for a moment and then “plop” the baby slips in the water. This peace of mind knowing that you CAN turn your head and death isn’t imminent for your diapered one, even if she did fall in, is priceless.
5. Swimming is fun as a family
Turns out our babies can float. It also turns out that if you teach children not to freak out in the water, they can chill out, cry for help, and breathe all at the same time. As your child grows more proficient in the pool, you are also likely to be more proficient in getting IN the pool with your young future Olympian.
In vacations past, the truth may have been that your best moments were spent relaxing around the pool. And that still may be true, however now that everyone can get in the pool, irrespective of age, the highlights will be spent watching your 15 month old jump into the pool and in your arms.
Over and over and over again. Really, can you get too much of your son laughing out loud asking for “more?” Didn’t think so.
6. No more fear of “where to stay or what to do”
One fan of Daily Dad had this to say about their experience with their toddler:
This past winter we went to the Dominican Republic. We rented a condo that walked right out to the pool. No questions asked, we had no fear with what our young 1 year-old toddler would do. Even when we went to dinner, we didn’t worry about what he would do if we ate by the pool or if we went to a place near a pier.
Never again will you have to pass up the fancy dinner place on the water because you are worried little Junior might run off. Instead the issue may be “how well behaved is Junior.” To which Daily Dad has no current answer…
7. You are the life of the pool party
People LOVE to see a baby who can’t walk, but can indeed float. They also love to see a baby who can’t talk but can swim back and forth between her parents. It’s amazing just by hopping in the pool as a family, how many people will marvel at your infant’s swimming ability.
Just watch the free beers come in as the other Dad’s say “That deserves a beer friend. Whatcha drinking!?”
8. You will never have to cringe at another horror story about babies drowning
Even if your family isn’t around water that often, it’s still important to enroll your little ones in swim classes. If nothing else, all you need to hear is one story from a firefighter or EMT who couldn’t save a baby that fell into a pool or lake to be moved to action. They are true stories friends, babies can easily drown in water.
The other side of the story is that children who are not harmed by water are often scared to death to go near water as their parents “helicopter” the living love out of them. You know these parents: the ones that think everything is a “danger” or are the “no no no we don’t climb on boulders” types.
Let your children explore. Swim lessons are another step on the path to freedom and exploration. Forget the horror stories, make your own path. There is no time that is too soon or too late. If you are reading this now, the time is perfect NOW to take action.
Photo credits: Jay Breitlow @ Happys Dad’s Inc.