Our Waterbabies Journey so far – A Review

Before I continue with this post about our Waterbabies journey and review, I’d like to say that it is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Waterbabies. All opinions are my own from our experience of attending Waterbabies classes.

As I’ve written in a recent post about teaching BattleKid to swim, as soon as I fell pregnant I knew I wanted to help teach our son to swim from a young age. But I had no idea you could start lessons when they were babies, real babies. As I perused some of my baby magazines I came across an advert at the back for Waterbabies. I had never heard of them before but the ad caught my eye and I started to look into them as I approached my due date.

However, things went on the back burner due to my slow recovery from BattleKid’s birth. As we approached 4 months after birth, I felt like I was ready to start doing more with BattleKid and felt in better physical health, so I looked into Waterbabies classes near us but unfortunately there weren’t any close to our house. I decided to enrol in Waterbabies classes at the Village Hotel, Cardiff, and we started our Waterbabies journey in May 2014. I am a good swimmer and it is my wish that BattleKid follows in my footsteps so being able to start him in the pool at a really young age was brilliant, music to my ears.

We joined the other mums in the pool that first Friday afternoon and got the shock of our lives when our teacher Lauren took our babies for a swim before helping them do their first underwater swim. We had all thought we would build up to doing one by the end of the 10 week course but no, from day one under they went. And BattleKid was not fazed at all.

Waterbabies do this so they can work with a babies natural reflexes so the sooner you start the quicker they get used to it. It’s advised to start before they are 6 months old as their natural underwater reflexes start to fade after this age.

our waterbabies journey
6 weeks into our Waterbabies journey.

We did our first 10 week course and jumped straight into an intensive 5-day summer course as I wanted to try do as many courses as I could while I was on maternity leave. We returned to Lauren on Friday afternoons but a class ahead of those we had started with. We did 3 courses before moving venue and day to accommodate my return to work. We started course 4 on a Sunday morning at 10.45am and although we enjoyed it, the time was less than ideal as the venue is 45 minutes from our house and BattleDad often leaves at 5pm on a Sunday to travel for work, so it meant we had little or no time together on a Sunday before he had to leave.

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During our underwater shoot with Waterbabies

I rang the office before the rebooking deadline and asked if we could join a Saturday class but no space was available so from March 2015 we took a break from lessons, and our Waterbabies journey, and I took BattleKid to our local pool as often as I could.  He enjoyed the pool on holiday that year but towards the end of the summer I decided it was time to return to Waterbabies.

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Waterbaby on tour in May 2015

We started Chapter 5 in our Waterbabies journey on a Sunday morning but at 8.45am, meaning we would have more time with BattleDad in the day. Although it means no lie in for mum of a Sunday it is a small price to pay to teach our boy to swim. We have just finished Chapter 8 and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve shared with BattleKid on an ongoing basis.

Waterbabies classes are held in warm pools so that babies and young children do not get cold. If the water is below a certain temperature for any reason the teacher will not allow the class to go ahead. Safety is paramount at Waterbabies classes. We have never been in a group with more than 10 parent and child pairs, and the two main venues we have attended (the Village Hotel, Cardiff and Llanhennock Lodge, Caerleon) have some space for spectators.

All the teachers we have had have been very friendly and welcoming, from Lauren at the Village Hotel to Marianne at Dyffryn High School, to Emma and Ally at Llanhennock Lodge. Lessons last 30 minutes and are well organised and structured with large indicator cards and toys to aid with each part of the lesson. BattleKid’s current favourites are Mr. Fishy (as we have named him), and Dada’s car (the dive rings). He also really enjoys the horsey (woggle) and happily sings the horsey song.

At the time of writing our current course cost £165 and in my opinion is the best money I’ve ever spent on BattleKid. I did look into alternatives while researching Waterbabies but although many other lessons are cheaper, their structure seemed to take twice as long as Waterbabies to reach certain goals so they didn’t actually work out cheaper in the long run.

Waterbabies classes are well structured as I’ve mentioned and follow a natural progression, and are taught by highly trained, friendly teachers who have gone through rigorous training to reach the high level required to be a Waterbabies teacher. Our teachers have never put anyone under pressure to do anything they didn’t want to do, baby or parent, and are understanding of nervous parents or babies going through a plateau (as happened to BattleKid recently).

All the accessories used during lessons are colourful and high quality and appeal to young children. Each lessons whizzes by for us and before we know it our half hour is up and it’s time to get dressed and go home.

BattleKid and I are now halfway through our Waterbabies journey and the difference in him is incredible. He is confident around the water and always eager to get in. He is learning safe entry into the pool and is learning to climb out. His kicking is strong at the surface of the water but non-existent below it, but he’ll get there. Arms are hit and miss and sometimes he’ll do them, other times he won’t.

For ages he wouldn’t hold onto the side of the pool independently and then one day it clicked and now he is great and is able to monkey to the side as well. He has come a long way in a short space of time and I am so looking forward to pool time on holidays in the future.

What I love about our Waterbabies journey and classes:

  • Teach children to swim safely from babies.
  • Well structured, well organised classes.
  • Progression feels natural.
  • Warm, friendly teachers who are patient as well.
  • Warm pools.
  • Interactive classes with toys to help teach children certain things, most of which are available to buy from the Waterbabies shop.
  • Worth every penny in my opinion.
  • Teaching children an invaluable life skill.

What I don’t like about our Waterbabies journey and classes:

  • Nothing, except I miss Sunday morning lie in.

Our whole experience with Waterbabies from the start has been a positive one. BattleKid and I enjoy our swims and people watching us on holiday are always impressed by his abilities at his age. Our teachers have been nothing but friendly and highly professional, and I am looking forward to the day that BattleKid swims independently. I know it’s not far away given we’re almost halfway through our Waterbabies journey and in the meantime he is learning water safety alongside swimming skills that will be invaluable to him his whole life.

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First holiday as a Waterbaby at 8 months old

So if you are considering taking your baby swimming I highly recommend you get in touch with your local Waterbabies office for information. We’ve loved our Waterbabies journey so far and long may it continue.

Thanks for reading!

Cath x

*I was not asked to write this post.

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One of BattleKid’s underwater pictures taken at the Waterbabies shoot July 2014.

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