Prior to having a baby, I kind of naively thought that they knew how to do certain stuff. I don’t mean things like knowing how to dress themselves, how to play the piano or how to service a car, but I didn’t quite realise how big a deal the easiest of tasks would be.
Take a simple job like having a bath. I obviously didn’t expect Baby L to wash herself at a few days old, but I did kind of think that she’d be happy laying in bath water whilst we cooed over her. How difficult is that? It’s not like she didn’t have the best part of nine months to get used to being in a luke warm liquid.
But, alas, that did not happen. Instead, Baby L’s first bath was conducted to the overtures of screaming, crying and a bit of wailing. Since that fateful night, we’ve worked hard to get the sprog used to water – we do live near a canal after all.
I therefore thought that I’d share a few of the tips that we’ve discovered over the past eight and a bit months which has helped make Baby L the happiest sprog in the water.
1) Make It Fun
First and foremost, make sure that anything water related is enjoyable for the sprog. That means plenty of smiles, laughs and giggles when in the bath. The last thing you want to do is traumatise them by chucking them head first into the tub or waterboarding them in the shower – I’ve found this out the hard way…
I’ll be honest, as a newborn, there’s not really a lot of fun to be had. It’s all about being calm, relaxed and reassuring as the sprog gets used to life outside of the mothership. Still, you can sing songs and partake in a bit of gentle splashing to start the association of water and fun.
Once they are a little older and as they become accustomed to the water, then you can take it up a notch – introduce bath toys they can play with, encourage further splashing by laying them on their back and do whatever you can to make them laugh (peekaboo is a personal favourite in the DADventurer household).
2) Start From An Early Age
As with a lot of things in life, the earlier you start, the more likely it will become normal and alleviate any issues later down the line. We’ve tried to take this approach with most of the parenting stuff we’ve done.
So that’s meant things like getting rid of the dummy at five months old before they get dependent, getting her to try loads of different foods so she’s not a fussy eater and sending her out to get a job to learn the value of money (OK, maybe one of those isn’t quite true).
We’ve taken the same approach when it’s come to water. We bathed her a couple of times during the early days, but then upped this to everyday when she was probably 10 days old or so. Not only was this important to start establishing a routine, although that was mainly for our benefit rather than hers, but it meant that she became comfortable and confident with water from an early age.
3) Go Swimming
We’ve found that swimming has been a great way to help get our little one accustomed to the water in an alien environment. Chucking them into a big, scary pool is a pretty different experience to plonking them in a safe bath. At home, there are the same routines, sounds, smells, temperatures and people, whereas a swimming pool can be all sorts of disorganised chaos.
There are a couple of different options. You can take them to the pool when it’s open for a general swim or get booked onto baby swimming classes, such as Water Babies. Sure, you can go a bit caveman and find your nearest body of water, but you may have to endure the wrath of Social Services for that.
We first went swimming on our own with the sprog before deciding that swimming classes would probably be the best option – going it alone was still enjoyable, but joining a class meant that we actually knew what we should and shouldn’t be doing rather than trial and error (emphasis on ‘error’). No matter which you choose, try to remember points 1 and 2 – keep it fun and start as soon as you can.
Those are my main tips to help ensure that your baby loves water. What other things would you add? Does your baby love or hate water?