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|8 Out Of 10 Mums Say|
New fathers often wonder what is the best way for them to bond with their baby.
A new baby is a joy for all; a time of excited smiles and gurgles. But despite the fact that nowadays dads are much more hands-on parents, for many families it's still mum who has the most opportunity to bond with baby. Many dads are left wondering how they can spend one-to-one time with their newborn. Unlike mum, dad hasn't felt the wonder of his unborn baby growing inside him; nor can he experience the unique closeness that breastfeeding brings. But swimming with your baby is a truly delightful experience, and one that dads can do just as easily as mums.
Below, Budge Pountney from Water Babies recalls treasured memories from the first few weeks of bonding with his new baby boy, Jed.
'I took Jed swimming when he was just three weeks old and the whole experience has been the source of many treasured memories for me. Jed didn't take to the water immediately though, and it took six weeks of perseverance on both our parts to overcome the first hurdle of his little life. He's now blossomed into a true water baby.'
Generally, babies start swimming at around six weeks but Budge says: '...It's becoming increasingly popular for dads to bring them earlier as this then becomes their special time with baby, right from the start - without their other half telling them what to do! The warm water amplifies positive emotions within a fun, shared activity. And weekend classes, as well as late afternoon weekday ones, are perfect for dads, who are often still working full-time.'
Here, Budge explains why swimming with your baby should be top of your list this Father's Day or indeed whenever you want some special time:
Skin-to-SkinBeing skin-to-skin is one of the best and easiest ways a dad can bond with his baby. It's known to reduce anxiety and boost feelings of wellbeing, for parents and babies
Physical and Mental DevelopmentSwimming from birth is excellent for your baby's health and development, while an early introduction to the pool will avoid them experiencing the fear of water that can sometimes develop later in childhood. Water helps improve co-ordination and balance. The lack of gravity also means that babies exercise more muscles, more effectively, than on land. Furthermore, learning to respond to voice commands can make your baby sharper mentally and increase levels of understanding.
Despite looking very gentle, each half hour lesson provides a complete physical workout, not only for dad, but baby too; strengthening their heart, lungs and respiratory system, which in turn aids development of the brain.
Swimming With BabyLacking confidence in the water Dad?
Don't let that phase you! Taking part in structured swimming lessons
Creating a 'water tight' family
Sadly, drowning is still the third highest cause of accidental death among children in the UK. However, with carefully structured training, babies can be taught life saving skills such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object.
Daddy - the active role model
Getting my babies used to exercising from birth is something of which I'm extremely proud as a dad. With obesity rates doubling over the last ten years, it's vital that children see their parents as active role models.
And if the confidence of knowing you're making your child safer in water isn't enough to drag yourself out of bed at the weekend, I don't know what is. Especially as you're almost guaranteed to have a really good time!
June 9 2011
For more information about your nearest Water Babies class visit www.waterbabies.co.uk or call 01404 548 348.