Our baby loves water. She loves baths, showers, pools and beaches. So I’ve been wondering what it was we did to get her to this point. Was she just born to love water or were there things we did to get her to love water. Obviously I can’t answer if her genetics predisposed her to liking water although she is Australian.
To answer these questions I’ll have to go back in time. A time when baby could fit on my arm with her head resting in my hand. As is the standard in Australia she got a bath the first night. I recall that she wasn’t so fussed on it but she didn’t scream about it. The nurse taught us how to bathe the baby telling us to put pointer finger to thumb and hold her around the arms with our other fingers supporting her back. Ease her in and gently pour water over the parts that aren’t in the water. She also told us that we only need to bathe her once a week.
With this information we went home and put off the bath. We were both kind of terrified of it. My mum, not babies mum, decided to help us out. We gave baby her first bath since the hospital and it went well. Baby didn’t cry at all. Buoyed by this success we started bathing her regularly. Perhaps this is evidence that she just had the genes for it. One thing we did that may be different to others is that when we bathed her we did it in the bath not in the sink. I’d get in their with her and hold her the way the nurse taught us. One game that she loved was being floated towards the wall of the bath. When it was in range she’d kick with all her might against it and I’d bring her back towards me. She loved this game until she stopped wanting to be on her back. She started rolling over in the water and insisted on floating on her tummy. Thus the game became swimming her toward the wall. Once she started sitting in the bath we got her some toys to play with. It eventually reached a point where we could put her in the water with her toys and she’d play on her own. Except that she always wanted us to join her. What did we learn? Make it a fun experience. If only we knew how to make food time a fun experience.
Fast forward to the present. We started swimming classes for her because we figure if she likes the water lets put her in there more often. Part of the swimming class is putting your baby’s head under water. A daunting experience for any parent. Our baby had no trouble with it. Other babies cried, ours just had a puzzled expression on her face. So why does she have no issues with having her head dunked?
Jumping back in time again, we’re regularly bathing baby and she’s at the point where if we don’t give her a bath she gets grumpy. Babies generally don’t like having anything on their head. Our baby still hates wearing hats. She certainly hates wearing the bike helmet we have for her but I digress. Although if anyone has any hints on how to get your baby to like wearing hats I’m all ears. Anyway, at first our baby hated getting water poured over her head but we always did it anyway. Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. She continued hating getting water poured over her head but since it only happened once or twice during bath time she was OK with it. Usually if I’m going to throw our baby in the air I do a count down. 3, 2, 1. It reached a point where all I needed to do was count down and she’d laugh. We made jokes that when she gets to school and they start teaching her to count she’ll start laughing. So we started doing a countdown and then dunk water on her head. The result? She shuts her eyes by the time we get to 1 and afterwards she has a big grin on her face. Lesson learnt? Let her know what you are about to do. She’s a baby but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what’s going on.
Pools are basically giant baths with cold water instead of hot but what about the beach? We’ve taken our baby to the beach three times now. Before I go into any details about her experience I should say that the beaches we’ve taken her have no waves. Maybe a little bit of a rise here and there but the water never breaks. Her reaction to it is very interesting. For one thing she definitely knows it’s different to being in a pool or a bath. Her reaction is very reassuring actually. She clings to me with an unbreakable grip. At first I just sat in the shallows with her hugging me but she didn’t really like that so I went out with her into the deeps. Swam around on my back squid style, imagine breaststroke only on your back, with her on my stomach. She started to calm down and enjoy the show. The first time was without mum, baby’s mum, but the second time she joined us we were able to throw baby between us. Safely of course, she never leaves our arms.
The Third time was just me and baby again. At this beach there was a wall about fifty metres out. Baby just kept on pointing to it. So I walked out there. The water was up to my chest. I just floated her ahead of me. We met a family out there with a five year old girl in floaties. She was just swimming around happily. Obviously quite comfortable in the water. Everything I did they then did with their five year old girl. The girl was very happy in the water and was chatting away happily. She swam confidently. It was generally a good time. Baby loved it.
At one point she got her hat wet and was grumpy about having it on her head. She’d tolerated it up until that point. So i headed back. On the way we saw another family and joined them. They were all on floating devices and were amazed to see me just resting baby on my hand. One of them asked their child if she’d want to do the same thing. The child who was probably three years old shook her head in fear. Lesson learnt? Floating devices don’t get your child used to the water. Floaties on the other hand do.
To conclude; while sometimes it may just be down to personality there are ways you can make your baby comfortable in the water.
- Baby’s First Bath, Are You Ready? (lambieblankets.wordpress.com)
- Swimming 101: Tips for Encouraging Babies to Love the Water (pediatrics.answers.com)
- Baby’s are Never too Young to Learn to Swim (roomtogrow.co.uk)