Unsure if she and her 6-month-old would sink-or-swim, Well Community Editor-in-chief Leigh Ginther shares the story of their first baby swim class, and the tips she picked up on day one.
On the day the Galter LifeCenter opened registration for Aquababies, I was one of the moms on the phone at 5 a.m. signing up my 6-month-old daughter. I had heard that the class fills up very quickly — and that parents even line up outside the Galter LifeCenter early in the morning just to register — because it’s one of the only places in the area with indoor pools and swim classes for kids.
As a first-time mom, I never thought I would do such a fanatical thing as a 5 a.m. registration, but it’s important to me that my daughter becomes comfortable in the water early. Plus, she was up for a feeding so I felt a little more normal calling (it would have been more fanatical if I had set my alarm).
Once I had registered, we had about a month before the class started. Aquababies was a new thing to figure out. I wish the baby books would tell you that once your child is born you will be in a constant state of “figuring it out.” I wondered if I should bring her large bath towel. Did Target carry the swimming diapers, and are they sized the same as regular diapers? What if she was starving afterwards and freaking out in the locker room while I scrambled in my swimsuit to make a bottle and then had to crouch on the floor to feed her? I’d like to avoid that stress. At home she can roll for what seems like miles. How will I get dressed and keep her close — put my foot on her chest?
It was tempting to post on Facebook or my playgroup’s listserve, “How did you prepare for first-time swimming lessons, and was it stressful?” But I couldn’t get myself to succumb to how completely dumb and over-analytical I sounded. So, I kept my repetitive thinking to myself.
Finally, the big day arrived and I spent the morning finalizing my Aquababies approach. I was officially ridiculous.
All that worrying ended up being for nothing: We got to the pool and spent the next half hour walking around in a circle with two dozen other parents. It was fun, really cute to see her enjoying the water and it killed about two hours of the day. I can’t wait for next week’s class, and I haven’t a care in the world about it.
In the event that another mom is over-thinking first-time Aquababies, here are some tips based on what I learned:
• It seemed faster to get the baby into her swim diaper (yes, they are the same type of sizing as regular diapers) and suit at home before heading to class. And note, those swim diapers are more swim than diaper. As we were walking out the door I felt my daughter’s bum and she had peed through three layers of clothing. Fire drill clothing/diaper change was required.
• There are plenty of towels at the Galter LifeCenter. No need to bring your own.
• I had a bottle pre-made but she didn’t need it. I will still continue to do this, though, ‘cause you never know.
• I took the airplane emergency oxygen approach to determine who would get dressed first afterwards: As they say on airplanes, put your own oxygen on before your child because you cannot help her if you don’t have air. So, she waited under a towel, played with a toy and just watched the babies around her while I changed. No foot on chest needed.
Now on to the next thing to figure out …