I should have known really. With a seaside-loving mum and a Search and Rescue winchman dad, my daughter was always going to be a water baby. Since birth, she's always been happy in the wet stuff, taking to her baby bath with the sort of enthusiasm normally reserved for morning milk!
The local swimming pool soon became our favourite weekly outing… and a year and a half later, we're still a regular feature at several of the local swimming baths in our area of Suffolk. My daughter LOVES swimming (in a toddler, thrashing uncontrollably sort of way) and I love seeing her happy, it's a win win situation.
But it's more than just fun and games, there are some great reasons why I reckon every parent should hit the pool with their kids.
It keeps them fit
Childhood obesity is on the rise in the UK and can lead to several health complications in children, including juvenile diabetes. Just an hour in the pool, once a week can help keep your toddler fit and healthy. Bouncing around in the pool can help build strength in their heart and lungs and even improve their flexibility.
I often take one of my daughters' favourite balls to the pool. She has great fun chucking it around in the shallow end and chasing it afterwards. Toddling through the chest-height water must be quite a job for her little legs but she doesn't even seem to notice.
It tires them out
I'm lucky enough to work from home, but balancing the needs of my clients with the needs of a demanding toddler can often be quite a challenge! As a result I do most of my work during her post-lunch nap. A morning swim always guarantees me a quiet afternoon!
I sometimes use swimming as a way to help get my daughters sleep back to normal if she's been waking up during the night - from teething pain for example. A good afternoon session in the pool is just thing to get her really tired out and ready for a good nights sleep.
It gives them confidence
When it comes to some things, marmite for instance, my daughter can be a right wimp. But when it comes to the pool, she's fearless. By a year of age she'd happily dip her mouth below water and blow bubbles, by 14 months she lazed happily on the surface with most of her body underwater (supported by mum or dad of course).
Today, at the grand age of 17 months she loves nothing more than throwing herself off the side of the pool into dads waiting arms. Or hurling down the mini waterslide - even though her little legs need a helping hand from mum to get to the top. Of course we're always careful to be super safe, but as far as I'm concerned, if she's laughing about it, I'm happy.
And (as a bit of a bonus) it might give you an ego boost
Two weeks into her first term of toddler swim classes I was advised by the instructor that a more advanced class might be suitable for my then 14 month old daughter… so after a bit of negotiation we hit the 18 months plus class… two weeks after that, I was advised by the instructor that…you guessed it… a more advanced class might be suitable…
So now we're waiting for her second birthday so she can join the 'juniors' class. Outwardly of course I'm being very laid back about the whole thing, but really I'm thinking "Yeah! Watch out Rebecca Adlington, my daughter rules the pool!"