Dakota recently turned 6 months old and to celebrate we decided to start swimming lessons. I’d researched swim classes here in Las Vegas and found the cutest little Marimekko swim suit and cover up in Target, so I figured there’s no better time than the present to introduce her to the water!
Her first lesson consisted of Dwan and the instructor introducing Dakota to the water through simple movements while singing nursery rhymes. To practice using her arms in feet, Dwan spun her in circles around the pool—and for a good 15 minutes in we are looking good as a unit. Here I am with the youngest baby in the class, shining like a young Simone Manuel at the Nationals. My ego was at an all-time high…and then it wasn’t.
At this point in the lesson, the instructor has Dwan glide Dakota through the water at a fast pace. The first two glides were smooth, she’s looking like a swan, I’m getting great videos and photos and then all hell breaks loose. We’re not sure if she swallowed water or if it got in her eyes or nose, but what we do know is the 30 minute lesson was over. Everything Shut DOWN. Grand opening, grand closing. Now to be fair, the instructor had warned us that this crying spell would probably happen at least 4 more sessions so we were cool and grateful for the successful 15 minutes, grabbed our bags and left.
“GRAND OPENING. GRAND CLOSING.”
We returned a week later for her second lesson and as soon as we walked through the door Dakota saw a happy 2 year old jump into the water and clinched onto her father so tight she almost drew blood…I saw our $42 flying right out the door. When I tell you she Dakota showed out—she screamed, she shivered, she clawed. That instructor could save his entire “Ring around the Rosie” song and dance, because she wouldn’t even acknowledge him. The other parents tried to console me “she’s only 6 months”, “I wish I had started my children this early”, “she’s beautiful”, blah, blah blah…save it lady. So, after about 4 minutes in the pool, we gathered our belongings and called it a day.
I’m sure Dakota’s reaction to swim lessons isn’t an anomaly, plenty of parents have gone through the same if not far worse when introducing their children to swimming; however, if you are looking to start swimming lessons with your children, below are some tips that will hopefully give you more insight and preparation for your upcoming lessons:
- Know your child: Since birth, Dakota has always been alert and resilient. Her eyes were wide open in all of her hospital pictures and she has never seen a swaddle she could not break out of; knowing this, I should have known she wasn’t going to be cool with water being splashed in her face. The noisy environment and also seeing kids jump into water scared her, moving forward while she is still an infant, I will look for a more private environment with less people. Lastly, at 6 months I personally feel 30 minutes is too long for a swimming lesson; as a parent it goes by quickly, but for Dakota, who is easily bored, 15 minutes is sufficient.
- Know yourself: If you can’t handle seeing your child cry, swim lessons aren’t for you, kid. Dwan had to deal with Dakota crying, screaming, shivering and clawing on him and it broke his heart. Now, for me, ain’t no such thing as half way dope moms—and my focus was laser sharp…get a clear picture or video for my blog and make sure the instructor gives us every bit of the 30 minutes we paid for (don’t judge me).
- Ask questions: Had I asked more questions I would have known that our “private session” wasn’t very “private.” It is also important to know all of the out the pocket expenses. I was a little surprised when my $42 swim lesson tab came to $118. This particular company required that we pay for two sessions up front and to purchase an overpriced a swim diaper. I guess they know most parents will not bring their child back after the first session so they have to lock them in. Lastly, schedule your classes in advance. Many places are extremely booked especially after 3pmand weekends. I made the mistake of calling on a Thursday with hopes of booking a second lesson immediately, only to be told that it would be another week before they could schedule her.
- Be patient: I did find a private swim school that required their students to commit to 10 min a day, Monday–Fridayfor one month, which would have been a perfect fit for Dakota; however, there was a waiting period. I will be honest, I was obsessed with Dakota starting at exactly 6 months (for what reason I do not know) so I went against my better judgement and chose a school that she could start immediately.
I would love to know what other parents’ experiences were with infant/toddler swim lessons. Have you considered them or tried them…and did your baby show out like Dakota?