I’ve been meaning to write again about our Water Babies experience now that Alex is in his first round of toddler classes. They recently asked parents to submit stories about their experiences, and this is what we submitted.
We’ve been a Water Baby family since November 2010. I got in the pool with my first son, Nathaniel, when he was 3 months old. I had a pretty bumpy start with Nate due to some feeding problems and reflux, and Water Babies was our saving grace. I learned so much from our early lessons—how to not freak out when your baby is crying, how to hold a slippery baby with confidence and how to gracefully rinse off vomit when you’ve splish-splashed-around-in-a-circle-and-up-in-the-air a bit too aggressively.
Nate was a tiny baby who could not put on weight. I was really worried about him, but seeing him swim so beautifully and happily put me at ease. Even if the rest of our week was stressful, for 30 minutes every Monday we were working together as a team and achieving great things. It also got me out of the house during my snowy first winter as a mom and gave us a fun (and warm!) activity to do together. As he got older and entered the toddler stages we had great fun and lots of laughs, especially with the holiday swims that he insisted on practicing on the ‘daddy horse’.
Nate is now 3 and outside of the pool, I can see the lessons from Water Babies playing out. The wobbles don’t just happen in water, they happen on dry land and learning to work with Nate through his lessons paid out in dividends once we hit the terrible-twos. He adored the songs and games, so much that he slept with Bubba next to his bed for several months and would jump up on him singing the Hawaii Five-0 song. Come to think of it, that was the first song he learned to sing! On a trip to the zoo recently, he held onto the fence and did ‘Monkey, Monkey, Monkey’ all along the orang-utan enclosure. He also loves playing Water Babies at home. He’ll drag out a blue blanket, strip down to his nappy or underpants, pop on a swim cap and away he goes. These days he’s usually instructing his little brother, Alex, on how to swim. Not that he needs any instruction.
Alex is a Water Baby. He has been since before birth. He attended all his brother’s classes in utero and learned all the songs along the way, probably blowing bubbles in my belly on command. They say that babies respond to their parents’ voice and music in the womb, so the same must be true for Water Babies instructions. But when I say he is a water baby, I mean it. He was literally born in water (in a birthing pool at our home birth) and my waters never broke so he was in the cul as they say. He is calm and relaxed in water or near water. The highlight of Alex’s week is attending Water Babies classes. He perks up as soon as he sees the pool, does a little dance on the way to the changing rooms and giggles as he makes as much splashes as possible.
His love for water extends far beyond the pool. If I spill a glass of water on the floor, he’s right there ready to splash around in it. If he’s upset and crying hysterically, all I have to do is turn on the tap and put his hand under the water to calm him down. Some of his first words were ‘Daddy Ready Go!’ and ‘bubbles’. He spills his drink in his high chair tray, gives himself the command and then blows bubbles in the mess. I’ll spare you the details of our challenges while potty training his big brother, but let’s just say he’s very interested in all kinds of water.
I’m so proud of this little guy and even though he’s my second water baby, I’m still amazed at his progress. He’s 18 months and kicking and floating on the woggle like a champ (although he could work on floating on his back).
Water Babies has become such an important part of our family routine. Nate loves watching his little brother from the side of the pool and cheers him on saying “Good job Alex!” I like imagining that they’ll be doing the same for each other during swim meets in the future. I grew up swimming (outside during hot South Texas summers, you can’t have everything) and am so glad that it’s an activity that my boys love as well. We’re all calmer and happier in the water and so grateful to Water Babies for helping us get our feet wet.