On top of the usual trying to fit 36 hours into a 24 hour day, I think Monster on the whole is trying to kill me. Not through fatigue, worry or other forms of stress, but physically. For example, I have dozed off next to Monster a few times recently, only to wake up with a start with them clutching my nose so tightly that I can’t breathe. My eyelids seem to be good things to grab as well. Where I have managed to dodge tired eyes and crow’s feet, I think Monster is on a mission.
In other news, I am still a little befuddled why someone felt the need to toot their horn at me the other day because I was turning right in a dedicated lane and they were going straight ahead – it was a purple Ford Puma on the way to Charlton Lido. I feel I am not doing enough sit-ups, nor am I wearing the most heavy duty make-up I can find – and I feel I am repeating myself – as per above. But besides all of this, I discovered that Monster can swim, well doggy paddle, which I think is great considering Monster is a very energetic child. It means a little downtime for mummy.
People ask me, are you taking Monster outdoor swimming. Um, let me see, a five month old swimming outside in the UK. No, I don’t think so. In fact it is a pet peeve of mine to see parents taking babies and toddlers to venues such as the lido and then wondering why the poor kids are screaming their heads off because of the cold. Young children cannot regulate their temperatures like we can, and even in the warmer months; you are competing with sun exposure. Where you are able to cool down from the heat in the water, the sun reflecting off of the surface provides glare, and whatever the UV levels are, they are doubled in the water, increasing the risk of melanoma. A good site to visit regarding the daily UV levels is Weather Online.
I was under the notion for years, like many others, that babies are born natural swimmers but apparently this is not the case.
According to several sources, babies are not born with the ability to swim, though they have reflexes that make it look like they can swim.
This post derived from a swim session I had with Monster a few weeks ago. We go swimming once a week, I didn’t want to go down the swimming lesson route as being a competitive long distance swimmer, I think I am well equipped to teach Monster the basics. I am also a firm believer that with babies you need to just do it, you delay and water things down, so to speak, the baby picks up on this and if there is any anxiety, they will also reflect this.
When Monster was 15 weeks, mum, Monster and I went to the pool and just got in and it’s been fun since. I would have preferred Monster in the pool sooner, but there was a delay with the jabs.
I have always maintained that Monster will know how to swim, whether they wish to be a marathon swimmer like me is entirely up to them, I just want to school them with the skills so they can try their best to save themselves should they end up in a spontaneous deep water situation. I do recommend if parents are not good swimmers, or can’t swim at all, that lessons are a must. There is no need to be a martyr and there is plenty of help out there.
The other week however, Monster raised the bar. Bearing in mind that Monster is now four and a half months, Monster decided they didn’t want to float on their back this time round, instead they wanted to lay on their stomach. I found this out when a woman swam past us and Monster who I was holding facing outwards decided to all of a sudden dive forwards and copy. To which I swore in reaction while maintaining my grip. I then apologised to several sniggering parents around me and carried on with our session.
I should have known the wandering eyes meant that Monster was taking in all information and process it when ready. Monster has after all been several weeks ahead on the development scale.
So taking advantage of this, I allowed Monster to lie on the water’s surface stomach down with my hands securely underneath them. Monster then proceeded to doggy paddle with great force. Now Monster has always been strong for their age so the force of the paddling was quite extreme and I had to stop them a few times as Monster was becoming very excitable and it was hard for me to keep my grip.
In awe with my child’s latest development/achievement, I took to the Web to do some research. The reflex which mimics the doggy paddle happens up until around 6 months. Babies placed in water tummy down reflexively move their arms and legs in a swimming motion, which makes them look like natural swimmers.
“These reflexes don’t mean the baby can swim, though,” says Jeffrey Wagener, a paediatric pulmonologist in Colorado.
Another notion is the thinking that babies can hold their breath under water naturally so you can briefly submerge them. This is called the bradycardic response that makes babies hold their breath and open their eyes when submerged in water. Parents can cause this same reaction by blowing in their baby’s face, a response that disappears after about 6 months.
He went on to say that babies aren’t old enough to hold their breath intentionally, or strong enough keep their head above water. In addition to the risk of drowning, it’s dangerous for an infant to swallow large amounts of pool water. In my mind it’s even worse during school holiday times – I’d hate to think the amount of chlorine in the pool. It’s like swimming in chip fat that burns the eyes.
If you have a new born and plan on taking them swimming, it is advisable to wait until they have had at least their first set of jabs, while the chlorine in the water will kill off most things the biggest risk when swimming is actually to the mother. After giving birth we are at risk of infection so do not go into the water until you are absolutely ready. If you can get the baby into the water before 6 months then that is great. As time goes on fear of the water can set in and this then makes it difficult to take the child swimming. Of course not all children are water babies like my Monster.
One thing I will definitely be teaching Monster when they are old enough is the dangers of the water. This is incredibly important to teach children as soon as they understand as there is not enough awareness surrounding water safety in the UK.
I was on a water awareness panel last year and it was quite worrying how well versed the rest of Europe is on this topic in comparison to the UK.
The RNIL have launched a campaign promoting safety in the water. Please take a look at their website and find out what you should do if you find yourself in a bad situation in the water. The hastag on Twitter is #respectthewater.
When I told my friends about the above, they sent me a video of babies with water floats around their necks. This is not the same video but it is the same kind of water float. I find this very unsettling, what do you think?
Following the birth of Monster, I completed a 22 mile swim for Heart Research UK. If you would like to donate to their wonderful work, please click here.