My regular readers will know that recently I have been looking at signing up for swimming lessons in Harlow for Daisy. As Daisy is now 5 months old I’ve wanted to get started sooner rather than later. I was looking for swimming lessons in Harlow, as this is where we live and nice and convenient for us to travel around even when Daddy is at work.
Firstly let me start by saying that I explored the different options for swimming lessons in Harlow and there were some varying prices on offer. The first company that I contacted told me that I could not register for their waiting list until my daughter was of the age that they allow babies to swim – 6 months. I was instantly put off as while I don’t mind joining a waiting list, for something that I really want, I wasn’t even able to do this for another couple of months!
Luckily for Daisy and I we found Water Babies!
The process for registration is super simple. There is a link to find your local water babies office. You can pop your postcode in online and it will show you what areas your local classes operate in. For example, in Harlow, where I live, there are several different classes on various days of the week. Both weekdays and weekends are available, with various times on offer. This is fantastic if you have a busy schedule to work around as there should be a class for everyone.
My local class is run by the Water Babies NE London staff who run this fantastic Facebook page. The page has lots of fantastic reviews from other parents who have taken their babies to classes and it is amazing to see the variety of age ranges that take advantage of the Water Babies service.
As well as running classes in Harlow my local branch also have classes in Loughton, Barkingside, Chadwell Heath, Holloway and Islington. In addition to this they have classes in amazing hydrotherapy pools in the Isle of Dogs, Stratford, Limehouse and Docklands.
Preparing for our first Water Babies lesson
I was actually quite nervous about our first lesson – just because Daisy had never been in a swimming pool before and I’ve not really been to many classes with her.
We received a fantastic kit talking us through what to expect from our chapter 1 course and providing us with a few lovely extras such as a book, complete with stickers, to track our Water Babies journey, and even a nice sunshade for the car. This was a really nice touch and just seeing this sunshade got my husband and I excited for our journey to teaching our daughter to swim.
The paperwork that we received, alongside a set of terms and conditions, was jargon free and easy to understand. We were also asked to list any medical conditions, which we did, and this made me feel confident that Water Babies genuinely care about both parents and their children who attend classes.
I was really pleased with the information that was provided to us before our first lesson, right down to where we could safely leave our pram when arriving at the swimming pool. I felt informed, confident and ready for the first lesson before we even arrived! This only served to increase the excitement of attending our first ever swimming lessons in Harlow.
Packing for our first Water Babies lesson
A fluffy towel
A happy nappy and a disposable swim nappy (find out more about the double nappy system here)
A wetsuit (we didn’t need one during this lesson as our pool was a lovely temperature)
A hat for afterwards
A changing mat with nappies & wipes
I’d really advise taking as little as possible to a Water Babies class. Obviously you want to be prepared, however, if you are heading from home to your lesson and back again you really don’t need to take a whole days supplies with you! I was able to empty out our nappy bag and take everything that we needed, plus a few things we didn’t, to our swimming lesson. We had a shower before our lesson, and walked straight there, and then we had a shower when we got home.
Swimming lessons in Harlow – with Water Babies
I found that the water in the pool seemed to be nowhere near as chemical filled as other swimming pools. This was fantastic for me, as my skin is sensitive, and I didn’t have any redness or irritation – even after walking home via the supermarket first! There was no overpowering chlorine smell either when visiting the swimming pool and this was fantastic.
When we arrived for our first lesson Hannah Yeoman was waiting to greet us. She was warm, welcoming and friendly. We were able to hand over our signed disclaimers and talk about any questions that we had. Hannah was equipped with happy nappy and other products (review to follow soon!) and was so friendly and genuine.
We were advised to arrive 15 minutes before our lesson to leave ample time for changing, and this was more than sufficient. At our class there were changing facilities, toilets, changing mats and even chairs for spectators to sit poolside. The facilities were clean and hygienic and we were showed around before our lesson began to give us time to get ready and allow us to be waiting for the start of our lesson.
As you can see from this photograph the water is crystal clear! It was not chemical filled and it was around 32C when we visited too. This meant that Daisy was able to swim in just a Happy Nappy and we could enjoy cuddles and bonding together.
What did we think of the first Water Babies lesson?
In a nutshell – we loved it! Seriously – it is worth every penny!! Before I booked for Water Babies lessons I read a few reviews online and the general consensus is that these classes are amazing – and they really are! I’m already looking forward to next week because we had such a fantastic time.
Our instructor, Debbie, was confident, knowledgeable and while she was friendly and chatty she did not waste a single minute of our class on anything other than giving fantastic service. I also noticed that Debbie was using sign language when saying ‘Well done’ to my daughter! This was fantastic and it was so natural the way that it was carried out too.
We learned a few of the Water Babies songs, and signature swim moves, and then before I knew it the time had come for Daisy to go underwater for the first time! I was REALLY nervous for this part – however, I needn’t have been! Our instructor, Debbie, was the person who took Daisy from me and I was surprised at just how confident in Debbie I felt, despite only having met her 30 minutes before. Debbie has a real way with children and you can tell that she loves her job. Debbie also exudes a natural confidence, which is what you want from someone dunking your precious child underwater isn’t it! I loved how Debbie told me how to be confident when my daughter emerged from the water and as I really believe that putting on a positive face, even if you feel a little scared inside, can help babies so much I was thrilled with this. It was great to have a reminder how smiling at your child can really make a difference when they are experiencing something new.
I felt so happy with how the lesson went and really confident that we would soon have Daisy swimming and that I was going to be just fine if I was attending lessons on my own. It was the little touches, like somebody on hand while you get into the pool to pass your baby to you. This made all the difference to me and when my husband has to miss a lesson because of work I feel happy that I’d be just fine attending alone!
How was Daisy after our first lesson?
Daisy had a nice sleep on the walk home. She was so tired from the swimming that not only did she have an extra nap but she went to bed a whole hour earlier than normal. She still slept as peacefully as normally but I think she was just extra tired from all of the excitement of the day. All round this was fantastic as extra sleep = extra time for me to work!
Daisy, who has reflux and a few allergies, had no problems at all. Her skin as just as soft and lovely as ever after her wash when we got home.
Daisy accidentally swallowed a little water while we were swimming but she did not have any sickness and overall I feel like she really benefited from the lesson. She had a lovely time in the pool and she was happy for the rest of the day too. Usually Daisy gets grumpy late afternoon but we didn’t experience this after our swimming lesson – maybe a coincidence, maybe because we had done something exciting and different?!
Final thoughts on our swimming lessons in Harlow
I LOVE that my husband could join us, and take photographs of us swimming together. The lesson had a really positive feel to it and my husband was so proud to watch our daughter having her first ever swimming lesson – and be able to capture the moment forever!
There was nothing that I disliked about our first lesson. I now feel empowered and confident for the weeks ahead. My initial worries, beforehand, about would Daisy like the water and would she scream and cause a disruption were completely unfounded. While Daisy did have a little grizzle, towards the end of the lesson, Debbie was clearly well equipped to deal with this and took it in her stride, bringing over a lovely water toy (suitable for my little teething girl!) and quickly continuing on with the lesson. This meant that I didn’t feel worried about spoiling the enjoyment for anyone else attending our class and this just served to boost my confidence even more.
Both Debbie, our instructor, and Hannah, were polite and friendly. I was made to feel really welcome, as were the other parents that I saw attending lessons. Everybody was treated really nicely and the babies in our lessons shared the same amount of attention and received the same positivity.
While Water Babies classes are more expensive than some of the other swimming lessons in Harlow I feel that Water Babies offers something a bit special. Firstly, the classes are designed to help you bond more with your baby. Secondly, the lessons your child learns will help them stay SAFE if they ever get in to trouble in water in the future and thirdly they have a tiny maximum class size. This means that you won’t ever have to worry about your lesson being used up on lots of other children and also it means you get dedicated help with learning how to hold your child safely in the water and how to be confident yourself too.
Daisy and I are currently learning chapter 1 of Water Babies, which retails at £165 (including a FREE under water photo shoot), although we are fortunate to be receiving this chapter in exchange for reviewing it. All opinions, as ever, are my own and have not been influenced by Water Babies in any way.