This story is part of a partnership with Advocate Condell Centre Club.
Baby swim lessons have always felt to me like something you did so YOU could have something to do. Not so much that the baby would learn anything but that you could spend time together and say you were teaching your baby to swim. I had done them with my oldest two at different ages and locations and never felt the need to even attempt it with my youngest two. Once you have four, the time and money for frivolous classes go right out the door.
Backfloat Baby at Foss Swim School
After a session at Foss Swim School, watching my now four-year-old progress and do so much on her own, I was convinced that maybe at two years old, it would be worth trying something with my youngest. If for nothing else for water safety and acclimation. At this time, he still mostly loves baths and playing in the water, and it would be awesome if we could keep that going and not have to deal with the “afraid-of-getting-his-face-wet” scenario,
This spring session, as my older kids all worked on their swim skills, Foss gave me the opportunity to try out the Backfloat Baby class with my youngest. Backfloat Baby is a parent-child class, and the age is from 6-36 months. My son’s class has a 6-month old, 15-month old, 21-month old and two two-year-olds. It’s a wide gap in age and ability; but, since parents are in the water with the child and instructor, it’s not a hindrance. Because parents are in the water with their child, the Backfloat Baby class is a little larger with a maximum of five per 1 instructor.
After just one class, I noticed the routine and consistency that I loved in the older kids’ classes. It’s the same here. I can now see how the entire framework builds from the youngest to the oldest. The baby class starts with the same song and water acclimation that the Littles class begins with. They teach them the basics of a monkey walk, too (see the video of what this is here), which is an excellent skill for younger siblings to have!
In this class, as in the bigger kids’ classes, the overall emphasis is on water safety. The instructor has been great about explaining why we are doing what we are doing with the babies. It helps the parents understand the technique and gives us insight into how and why children drown and what to teach our kids. For example, I have learned in the baby class that babies/toddlers will instinctively reach up (think the arms up “pick me up!” gesture) when they fall in the water. This becomes dangerous because it pushes their head back, and the water floods their nose and lungs. By teaching them how to fall in, putting their head down, and how to turn and grab the wall, they are teaching them a skill that will help save their life. After three classes, my two-year-old can “fall”(assisted) into the pool without freaking out, keep his head up, and hold onto the edge of the pool. We are working on the monkey walk and pulling himself all the way out.
Aside from the safety feature, it is also helping him continue to love being in the water. Bath times are a joy as he “swims” in the tub practicing his kicks and monkey cheeks. For the first time in years, I am excited about hitting the pool this summer with all the kids instead of being fearful and stressed. That peace of mind is worth every penny we have spent on swim lessons.
Foss has locations in Libertyville, Highland Park, South Barrington, and Lakeview and will be opening in Niles this Fall.
Disclosure: Foss is providing us with swim lessons in order to facilitate this review. No further compensation has been received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.