One of my family’s favorite summer pastimes is spending time at the pool. We’re lucky to have a pool in our neighborhood, so Colton and I hang out there most days. But, now that I have two little ones, I need them to get some water safety skills ASAP. So, we enrolled in swim lessons, and I wanted to share our experience about what to expect at baby swim lessons to help other parents. Well, and to share some cute photos of my littles in the pool, because why not?
Rightly or wrongly, I never worried much about having Colton in swim lessons until Blair came along. Although we spent a lot of days at the pool, I was always right with him in the water.
The thought of having 2 kids in the pool kind of terrifies me, so I want them–especially Colton–to get some water safety knowledge in case I can’t be right there. With swimming, as in everything, your attention is split in half one the second kiddo comes along. Plus, I’m adamant that I don’t want either of my kids to become dependent on floaties, Puddle Jumpers, and the like, because those aids won’t always be there.
[Click here to shop my swimsuit – under $20 and in tons of colors!]
Aqua-Tots Swim School in Olathe, KS
Aqua-Tots Swim School just opened a new location near our house, so I got both my little ones in lessons. Their first location in the Kansas City market is providing swim lessons in Olathe, KS. Aqua-Tots instructors have trained over 40 hours to be certified, plus they participate in ongoing training and evaluations. Basically, they’re much more qualified to teach 2 young kids to swim than I could ever hope to be.
To me, the biggest selling point for Aqua-Tots is their maximum of 4 children per class. Colton gets easily overwhelmed in large groups. The small setting is great to allow him to get acclimated comfortably.
Plus, they offer time slots that allow me to bring both of my kids at once. This way, I don’t have to find someone to watch or transport one child while I’m with the other. Although, they do offer a nice little play area for siblings who are waiting… plus, free WiFi!
Finally, because it’s an indoor facility, the lessons are 1-3x/weekly year-round, depending on your preference. I chose to do once per week with my little ones, but I’m open to increasing it if they show additional interest. I much prefer the year-round schedule to other facilities which cram lessons into 1-2 weeks in the summer, then a lot of time off [aka regression].
What to Expect at Baby Swim Lessons
There are a few questions you’ll want to ask in order to determine what to expect at baby swim lessons. Before heading out to your first lesson, you’ll want to inquire if you will get in the water with Baby. Every swim school is different, and it likely depends on your child’s age as well. In our instance, Blair’s Level 1 class requires a parent in the water, but Colton’s Level 3 class does not.
Also, make sure to ask about the diaper policy. Again, every school is different. For Aqua-Tots, babies wear a disposable swim diaper [we like the Pampers ones] with a reusable swim diaper on top, then a swimsuit or trunks.
Pro tip: Swim diapers don’t hold pee, otherwise they would soak up the pool water and get super saggy. But, that also means that you can’t put them on ahead of time at home, in case your baby pees on the way to swim class.
What to Bring to Baby Swim Lessons
Here’s how we get ready: I put my swimsuit on at home, then wear street clothes over it. Since Colton is potty-trained, I put his swim attire on at home, too. That way, I only have to get Blair ready once we get there.
Since I already tote around a sizable diaper bag everywhere we go, I try to keep our swim bag pretty simple. I pack a swimsuit for Blair, reusable swim diaper, 2 disposable swim diapers [just in case!], and 2 towels. By the time I finish drying off and dressing the kiddos, I’ve pretty much air-dried anyway, so I don’t bother with a towel for myself. [Plus, that’s one less piece of laundry I have to wash later. Have I mentioned how much I hate laundry?]
Aqua-Tots has a spacious changing area with plenty of private stalls and family bathrooms. They even have hair dryers and swimsuit dryers, the latter of which totally blew Colton’s mind [and mine too, honestly].
Here are my cuties all ready for their third lesson!
These rash guard sets are from RuffleButts [Blair’s Rash Guard Bikini] and RuggedButts [Colton’s Trunks + Rash Guard]. These sets have a few benefits I love: 1] they’re cute [obviously], 2] the swim fabric is UPF 50+, which is the highest-rated fabric to keep them safe from the summer sun, and 3] turns out, Blair’s rash guard set actually makes it much easier to get her ready for swim class. I can put the rash guard on her ahead of time at home, then I just have to put her swim diapers + bikini bottom on once we get to the pool. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it’s substantially easier than working a wiggly baby into a one-piece swimsuit.
Oh, and Blair’s is monogrammed, and it’s no secret that I’m a sucker for monograms. When we were naming her, I tried to make sure she would have a good monogram because mine kinda sucks. It’s either TAN [which I am not, sadly] or TNA [which is just awkward].
Baby Swim Lesson Structure
And now, onto the class — here’s what to expect at baby swim lessons once the instruction begins! Blair is in the Level 1 “Tadpoles” class for ages 4-12 months. The overall class goals are water adjustment, safety skills, and breath control. She’d been in a pool a couple of times previously, but this was her first foray into any type of structure in the water. She and I both had a lot of fun!
The class started with a song to welcome the babies to swim class. During the song, the parents do various motions like swaying Baby in the water, getting their cheeks wet, etc. to get them acclimated.
Blair’s coach used a toy watering can to pour a little water on her hair to see how comfortable she was with getting water in her eyes. Blair did great, so we progressed with getting her a little more submerged. She didn’t go fully underwater during the first lesson, but I’m sure it’s coming!
We practiced having her sit on the edge of the pool and having me lift her in and glide toward me. She would get so sad when I would set her on the edge, then it was like instant calm the second she hit the water. She’s definitely my daughter–I’ve loved the water my entire life! I remember crying when I had to get out of the pool as a kid, too.
She worked on floating by resting her chin on my shoulder, which I think was her favorite part of the class. She was so chill lounging on me, and “chill” isn’t a word I’d frequently use to describe her personality. [Does anyone even say “chill” anymore? I’m so behind the times.]
We also worked on kicking, which she thought was hilarious. At the end of the class, she sat on a big floating mat to work on her balance, then we sang a goodbye song. The time went by quickly, and we both had fun. I’d call it a success!
Meanwhile, Colton was a little shy to get in the water at first. He loves swimming, but has always done it with mom or dad. That’s a big reason why I want him to be in lessons, though–so he can gain confidence in the water even if mom or dad aren’t nearby. Eventually, he got in and was having a lot of fun!
Just living his best life.
A major skill at his level is turning in the water to find a wall and get out of the pool. That way, he’ll know how to climb out if he accidentally falls into a pool. He also worked on floating, which I think was his favorite part.
After class, there are showers to rinse off the chlorine right in the pool area. Colton’s coach met with me to discuss what they worked on [and, in the future, his progress], which I appreciate.
Another feature that I really appreciate about Aqua-Tots is they have specific skill cards for each child, so there is a list of identifiable skills to master before progressing to the next level. I like having that list as opposed to going by feel. Maybe that’s just because I spent too many years as a gymnast moving up [or not moving up] the levels at a coach’s discretion.
I’m very excited to watch my little ones progress in their swim skills over the next several months. Plus, getting in the pool every week is going to be great motivation for me to keep up with my nutrition, so a little bonus for mom too.
Have you taken swim lessons with your little ones? If so, I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!
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