Hello, my name is Adam Knight and teaching children to swim is my passion! I have been an aquatic professional for the last 9 years and run a company called Angel Swim London, teaching babies, toddlers and children to swim just off Kings Road in Chelsea.
In my opinion, swimming is like any physical activity, the earlier you start and the more you practice, the better you become. We teach babies as young as 4 weeks and focus on creating a positive connection with the water from the very beginning using their natural reflexes and adaptations. Here are my five top tips for parents to get the most out of their babies first swim experience:
1. Arrive early
To get the most out of your babies first lesson it is essential that you are both in a calm, relaxed and happy frame of mind. Babies are extremely perceptive and can sense your stress which they in turn reflect. Happy parents = happy babies, so please leave enough time to travel and get changed and you will give your baby the best possible chance of a happy and successful first experience in the water.
2. Get the gear
The majority of swim academies including my own operate a “double nappy policy” - you fit the Huggies disposable Swim nappy on first, followed by a neoprene (wetsuit material) over nappy. This provides your baby with some extra warmth, but most importantly provides a water-tight seal against any “little accidents” that may occur.
3. Hold them gently
Some mums and dads enter the pool environment with a sense of nervousness and anxiety, which is perfectly normal. What you may not realise is that these emotions manifest themselves physically - a strong grip on your baby may cause discomfort. Be mindful of how tightly you are holding your little one, take a few deep breaths and your body (and baby) will relax.
4. Listen to your teacher
To get them most out of your lessons pay close attention to your teachers instructions and demonstrations. It may seem like a very basic thing to say but when you are in a swimming class with your baby, singing, moving and only on three hours sleep it can be very easy to lose focus. The karate kid always listened to Mr Miyagi so please follow suit and carry out your teachers requests and you will unlock your little ones full potential.
5. Smile, connect and enjoy
You are your babies role model, therefore if they see you smile in the pool they will reflect that happiness and associate that emotion with the water. Eye contact builds connection and trust in all human interactions and it is the same for baby swimming - make eye contact with your baby as much as you can, connect with them and enjoy the experience together.