It was a very exciting weekend for us, as it was my bubba’s first day out at the pool. No dunking though, just floating around, but it was pretty cool, even though I put the float upside down for a while.
Growing up, I learnt to swim in my early teens, and there are many members of my family who are still not comfortable with swimming, even as adults. I knew for certain that I wanted my baby to love the water, and get the hang of swimming as soon as possible.
While looking for advice on this, I spoke extensively to Amira Jellali. She is the Aquatic Operations Director for Sheik Faisal Bin Qassim Sports Academy, and was extremely supportive and encouraged me to go ahead, and reiterated that once baby can hold his head up straight, it was a good time to go the pool.
Some of the tips she shared included:
- Ensuring that the water temperature is right. Around 30 – 35deg Celsius works very well.
- Keep colorful bath toys handy. It could be bright colored balls, or other toys, as these will help in distracting bubba and make him want to come closer to it.
- If it is an outdoor pool, do not let go of the float, as there may be a risk of the float turning over as the baby is still quite light.
While you can start classes from 3months, many say that it is better to wait until 6months. But meanwhile get the baby near water – be it a pool, or a bath-tub, for them to not be scared when the time comes.
Many also advice to wait until the two month vaccinations are done before stepping into the pool. According to the NHS website, you can take your baby swimming at any age, both before and after they have been vaccinated.
OUR EXPERIENCE of Bubba’s First Swim
While we were holidaying in London, I bought a float for him. And I bought a new swimsuit from Next (bought from the Positive Birth Doha – Sales) page. Swim nappies for his size were a little more difficult to find. I bought it from Monoprix, but am told it is also available at Carrefour (the branches I checked had the bigger size), Megamart, and Marks and Spencer. Bought myself some nice swimwear and viola! Ready to go.
Using our Entertainer voucher, we went to the Westin, and since it was too hot outside, we opted to use the indoor pool for a while. It was a wee bit cold, but not too bad.
I must admit my heart was racing when we lowered my boy onto the float (which was upside down btw – silly me), but he seemed okay with it. We – the husband and I – took turns in moving him across the water, and then stepped a little away, and clapped and made noises, encouraging him to come to us! And yayy!! My little munchkin started kicking and moving himself. It was pretty awesome.
By the time we moved to the warm kiddy pool outside, my baby was too tired. So I put him to sleep and went for a few laps myself (in the adult pool, obviously)
Now we are just waiting to cross the six month mark, and then would look at enrolling in classes.
CLASSES IN DOHA
A little digging revealed there are a number of swimming classes for parents and babies here in Doha:
- All Things Water (http://allthingswater.weebly.com/ – +974 6603-8714)
- Finnatic Swim School (https://www.facebook.com/finnaticswimschool/ – firstname.lastname@example.org – held at the Doha Rugby Club)
- Hamilton Aquatics (email@example.com – +97444689255)
- Qswim at the Hamad Aquatic Center
- SFQ Academy (https://www.facebook.com/SFQSportsAcademy/?fref=ts – firstname.lastname@example.org -44866293)
TAKE DUE CARE:
Jellali also advises to avoid unnecessarily submerging the baby, and to ensure that any such activity is done under the supervision of a fully qualified parent and baby swimming instructor. “Be aware that a parent and baby swimming instructor goes through much more training than a regular swimming instructor. I don’t mean to scare, but I just cannot stress how important it is to only participate in such classes with a qualified and fully insured parent and baby instructor”
She added: “All instructors should have a recent and up to date portfolio, comprising of qualifications, insurance and a police clearance certificate for working with children. I would also advise to partake in classes with a company, to be even more assured that they have insurance, if in doubt, ask!”
Although an extremely rare condition, it is also important to monitor the baby after the underwater experience, to ensure that there are no signs of dry drowning, which can happen over the next 72 hours. Key symptoms include difficulty in breathing, coughing, sleepiness, or change in behavior. If you see any of this, best to rush him to the Al Sadd Pediatric Emergency.
As long as one takes care, and the necessary precautions, swimming one of the most fun family activities, and an important life skill too. I, for one, can’t wait!