28 July 2017, by Tan Li Lin
Lia started baby swim class just before she hit 4 months. #Didyouknow Babies are born with neonatal reflexes and slowly begin losing those over their first 6 months. This is why I was bent on finding a school which would take her in as soon as possible.
There are so many advantages to starting a baby on swimming! Here was how I convinced myself to shell out $300+ for 12 lessons for Lia (although in truth, I didn’t need much convincing):
- Catch the reflexes and develop them into patterns and muscle memory before it disappears and she has to start (from scratch?)
- Drown-proofing!!! So important, because we want to be able to enjoy our time at beaches and pools, especially while on holiday!
- Orientate her before she learns to fear water
- Parent-child bonding, plus I get to learn how to handle my baby in water instead of fear it
- Those photos of babies floating on their own, underwater? LOVE THOSE. Always envied the idea of that and knew it was my dream to be able to see Lia just like them!
- Very impressed by the progress of Coco, Claire and Candace’s development and water confidence as a result of them starting swim classes at a young age too
Lia, turning 11 months in August, is going into her 3rd term and she can swim even before she can walk (kinda odd once you think about it). Here’s a recap of the last 2 terms and how it’s helped her development.
Lia started at 3 months 3 weeks old. I called the school to check if this was okay, and they said it is if she can hold her head up. That figures. We were a class of 5. Lia was the youngest, and the oldest kid was 8 months old. The mega HUGE advantage of starting really young, is that babies are BLUR SOTONGS at that age. Seriously. You can do anything to them in the water and they comply. Lia took to the water like a fish, and was a BREEZE to handle in all her lessons.
We spent the first term focusing on important basics.
Water conditioning was key, to train her to hold her breath for immersion at a later stage. Lots of kicking exercises to activate their propellers, and back floats that train them to relax in water and get used to lying horizontal. By the end of the first term, she was stronger, and picking up really fast because of the absence of fear, resistance and willfulness. She could hold her breath for 4 seconds, and immerse underwater for 3 seconds.
Here’s an official video of her milestone at the end of 2 months –
Now that the babies can hang out for a bit underwater, they get pushed further this semester! Lia has to learn how to free float (no support), wiggle her way to me, or the ledge and pull herself up. She also learns how to hold on to a high ledge, on her own, for 10 seconds. I love how the instructor put it – “Every second more they can hold on to the side of the pool increases the likelihood of their survival”. Back floats remain, so does water conditioning, now stretched to 7 seconds.
As a result of their familiarity with water, Lia and her baby classmates are cool cats in the water. She’s confident and doesn’t make a fuss when she’s got water on her face. She’s comfortable being horizontal (because she learnt to do so before she could sit up, bahahahah! See, the advantage of having no choice).
Her legs are kicking naturally. Also, her arms are strong, and she picks up and understands instructions fast, even the ones we dish out to her at home. The instructor did share with me that swimming helps to develop language and literacy abilities from an early age. I suppose it’s from 30 mins of drilling each week. We’re counting with them as they hold their breaths, giving commands to signal the exercise, and we celebrate all the time.
Having said that, now at 11 months, Lia’s attitude has kicked in. She complains during class, and in the bath when I practice water conditioning with her. She clawed at my face in her last class, and got pissed off at Ronald for dunking her too many times. Moral of the story? Start them when they are too blur to fight back! Well, that, as well as always making it fun.
The bonding experience is amazing, and I love witnessing that bond form too between Ronald and her when he takes her for class. We’re both confident in handling her in water, and that’s priceless to me! Lia also joins her cousin’s swim class from time to time.
All 4 girls also frequently play in the pool at home, where Lia learns within her water environment and has fun with her cousins. I can just dump her in there without worrying. My eyes are busy watching out for her, but my mouth and hands are busy with a bag of chips.
Even though I work from home, work-life-motherhood balance still isn’t easy. It’s tempting to choose work over spending time with her, even on weekends. Her swim classes on Tuesday afternoons are the highlight of my week, and I take the chance to force myself to take the day off… okay, at least the afternoon, to spend time with her.
The journey’s been inspiring truly, and it keeps me constantly amazed at the potential that these little humans have within. Keep the surprises and delights coming bub; It’s a gift to us more than you know.
Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicated herself to others and her career, until family changed all that. Follow her blog on www.ilovechildren.sg and journey with her as ‘life after 30′ opened up a completely new chapter.