Baby Swimming Versus Toddler Swimming

In a few weeks time, it will be Toddler L’s two-year anniversary since she first went swimming. Sure, it may not be up there with other special events such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries and Christmases – I doubt that Hallmark are busy creating “Happy Toddler Swimming Anniversary” greetings cards, for instance. Although if they do, I expect a slice of that pie.

Even so, I still think it’s worth celebrating and reflecting on. Swimming has become a big part of her little life and she’s come on so much since that first dip in the pool. Back then, Baby L was an eight-month old sprog whose only experience of water was joyfully splashing in the bath – and sometimes crapping in it. She seemed to enjoy water, so it was a logical decision for her to start swimming lessons, which she did with Water Babies during Chapter 1.

Fast forward two years and the now Toddler L has just started Chapter 7. Thanks to her experiences with Water Babies, she’s become hugely confident in and around water. When she was going through the dreaded water wobbles, never did I think that she’d get to a point where she’d be swimming unaided or be jumping in from the edge of the pool. However, with a great deal of determination, reassurance and stubbornness – from us both (!) – that’s where we are.

Another fab @waterbabiesuk swimming lesson today. Chapter 4 nearly done!

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Rather than get all soppy or sentimental about the last two years, I instead thought I’d do a little bit of a comparison about how baby swimming differs and compares to toddler swimming. Despite it being the same activity, the experience of baby swimming versus toddler swimming is pretty different, although it does have some similarities. Here are some of my observations:

Baby Swimming Versus Toddler Swimming

  • Changing rooms are dangerous places for a baby and toddler – but for different reasons. With a baby, you need to ensure they don’t get too cold when wet, stop them from rolling off the benches and protect them from being stood on by that fat, old gent. With a toddler, you need to be wary of everything – playing with the toilet, getting stuck in the locker, rummaging in the bin, running out of the door, getting their hand stuck in the dryer, slipping on the wet floor etc. You get the idea.

It still baffles me why it took so long to find Nemo. He’s there!

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  • When swimming, a baby is likely to tell you that they didn’t like something after the event, but a toddler will tell you they don’t like it before you’ve even done it. For example, a baby will cry for five minutes after an underwater swim, whereas a toddler will flat out refuse to even go under the water – the telltale sign being that they turn as rigid as a plank of wood as you try to dunk them.
  • A toddler is likely to leave you more embarrassed than a baby. Yes, you might be a little red-faced when your baby hasn’t stopped crying for 15 minutes and has screamed the entire place down. But that’s nothing compared to your toddler pointing and laughing at another man’s cock in the changing rooms.
  • No matter what age they are, you will always have an irrational fear that your baby / toddler is going to have a crap when in the pool and leave behind a brown trail. Despite this never happening to me – by which I mean my kid, not actually me – I get the same sense of relief on seeing a clean water nappy to what I did the first time we went swimming.
  • Toddler swimming is much more exciting and entertaining. I’m not going to slag babies off, but they don’t do much. When swimming with a baby, you do all of the work for them. A toddler pulls their weight though – they get in the pool themselves, are able to swim without you holding them, kick their own legs etc. Babies get too much of an easy ride.

Practicing our daddy daughter ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ swimming routine.

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  • Getting changed is a much easier process with a toddler than a baby. Generally, a toddler is able to help out a bit – be it things like taking off their shoes before a swim or drying themselves afterwards. This gives the parent a bit of space and time to sort themselves out. That’s not possible with a baby though – you have to do all of the work for them, usually whilst freezing cold in your sopping wet swim shorts with nipples that would cut glass.
  • The older they get, the more that bribes can be used. Whereas some might see this as dishonest, underhand or a crafty method to use on a toddler, it’s one of the only ways you can get them to do anything. I *may* have used lines such as “quickly get changed and you can have a Nakd Bar” and “just do one more dive and you can have the duck back” in order to combat her stubborn streak. It’s different with a baby though. It’s not like you can get them to kick their legs in the pool by offering some milk. Bribery is definitely one for when they’re older.

So those are my observations on baby swimming versus toddler swimming. Do these sound familiar? Are there any others that you’d suggest? Let me know below!

Liked this? Then you may also like my other swimming based posts such as 4 mistakes to avoid when swimming with a toddler and 4 things I’ve learnt from baby swimming lessons.

N.B. We receive complimentary Water Babies swimming lessons in exchange for sharing our swimming experiences.

  • Great post. I can relate to a hell of a lot of this having both a baby and a toddler. And why are changing rooms always cold resulting in nipples fit for cutting glass?

  • john adams

    Interesting. See, we didn’t take the kids swimming until they were about two years old, three in the case of our eldest. We’d been warned off it by coupes who started young, terrified their kids in the water and then had to start from scratch once the kids were older! Anyway, I can only really compare going swimming with an older v younger toddler. All I’ll say is the younger ones will find 101 different ways to injure you in the pool with a flailing arm or leg.