Some good new routines today, one of which was the first time we had seen our baby swimming above the water (with the use of a woggle) without being held. If you have been following along with these articles you won't want to miss this one.
Last night I was working late on my computer thank goodness and on the way to bed I smelled gas. I remember the advert saying not to turn a light on in case it sparks an explosion, so I made my way down to the kitchen in darkness but stupidly didn't hold my breath. I felt light headed but located the source of the gas.
The dogs had jumped up at the hob and turned the gas on. If I'd not been working late I may not have been around to write this article, and I shudder to think about what may have happened to my family. However I am here to write the article, perhaps with fewer brain cells than usual.
We covered a lot of routine moves that I've already written about so I'll just write about the new ones. First off, jumping off the rail. You have your baby holding onto the side of the pool or onto the rail depending on your pool setup. When you speak, your child will probably turn their heads around naturally to look at you.
Stand behind your baby and to the left if you are right handed, reverse everything if you are left handed like myself. You say 'name ... ready ... jump ...' and offer your right hand to their left hand. The idea is for them to let go of the side with one hand, you may have to take their hand if they don't reach out.
So now you are standing to the left of your baby holding their left hand with your right, they are still holding onto the side with their right hand. You pass your right hand across the front of your body and under your baby's chest ready to support them. You then start to turn anti clockwise (to your left) and their grip on the side with their right hand will slide away as you take them with you in a circle.
Immediately after they let go of their grip they will be on their front, pulled forward by their left hand with your right, and supported under their chest by your left arm. You can now let go of their hand and continue in a circle with them only supported under their chest by your left arm. You continue to sweep them around in the arc until the circle is completed and they are coming back towards the side. You then go into a reaching hold on.
The next new technique was to do with breathing. Our babies can now hold their breath when they hear the command 'name ... ready ... go ...', so there is much less spluttering and coughing when they come up from an underwater swim. However swimming is not just about holding your breath but controlling your breathing. This technique is to start to work on the breathing part of swimming.
You drop a floating toy into the water a little bit in front of you both. You lower your head so the water is up to your mouth and then blow a little under the surface of the water. All the time encouraging your baby to do the same, saying 'blow bubbles, .... blow bubbles ...'. You are also moving the floating toy by the blowing. We did 2 widths of the pool like this. None of the babies copied us and blew their own bubbles, so I think this will take some time to learn.
The next 2 routines used woggles, these are the long bendy cylindrical foam floats. They have them at most pools and I've seen them at our local Mothercare and BabyWorld. The fist one is horsey horsey, the same song as the regular horsey horsey but this time your baby isn't on your back. You and your baby are riding the woggle.
You bend the woggle into a U shape, the bottom of the U is underwater and the 2 ends are sticking straight up out of the water. You straddle the woggle, and hold you baby in front of you. You are both sitting on the woggle. One end of the woggle is behind you and the other is in front of your baby sticking straight up. Your baby will hold onto this like it's a horse's neck so you only really need to support them a little bit by holding their back.
The babies loved this, eventually I let go of Amélie and she supported herself on her own. I'll definitely be playing this game at the local pool with her on Friday.
Next was another routine with the woggle which showed real progress. We started off by bending the woggle into a flattened U shape, more of a gentle arch than an acute U. We had our babies in front of us resting on the bend of the woggle with their arms hanging over it. We were behind helping them with our elbows resting on the ends of the woggle.
We then put a floating toy in front of our babies and encouraged them to swim towards it. We did this for about 1 minute, always behind our babies holding onto the woggle. Then the instructor stood in front to move the floating toy and encourage the baby to swim towards it. As they did this we let go of the woggle and allowed our babies to float and swim alone supported only by the woggle.
As our babies were swimming away from us we came around the front to replace the instructor. I'm sure you could do this on your own, even though it would be a bit harder to move from behind to in front. Perhaps you could even start off in front and bend the woggle around your baby from there, that's what I'll be doing when I take Amélie swimming on my own on Friday.
At the start the woggle is pretty flat in the water but when you release it the ends stick up which perhaps you can see from the pictures. At times your baby may slip back and off the woggle, if you see that then hold their hands and pull them forward and back onto the bend of the woggle. You may be able to stop them slipping back just by putting your hands out, and they will reach out and get back on track.
This is one of the major milestones, I couldn't believe I was standing there watching her kicking her legs and moving her arms propelling herself forward a quite a pace. She isn't even a year old and she was swimming above water on her own supported only by a float that she wasn't even attached to but leaning over. I think this and the glide swim are the most impressive achievements I've seen during the 31 lessons so far.
At the start of the course I though that perhaps it was just going to be about making our babies comfortable in the water. I'd not expected this kind of progress, after all Amélie is only a little over 10 months old.
Lastly there was a new little routine we learned last week, but because there was so much new material it slipped my mind. Basically you do this in parent baby pairs, you face the other parent and you are both holding your babies in front of you by their legs. You baby is facing the other baby and you kick their legs for them with your hands and splash the other baby and parent. Not so much fun for me, but the kids loved it and it shows them being splashed is nothing to be scared of.
If you remember from last week the new swimming cap rule came into force. It seems I've got special dispensation, I do feel guilty that everyone else has to wear one but I'm glad my receding hair line has paid off for once. So long as the dogs don't gas us I'll be back next week for the next article in the series.