Babies are curious little creatures. They are drawn to water instinctively, but they have no knowledge of how dangerous water can be. This natural curiosity for the bathtub or backyard pool can be frightening for parents, but introducing a baby to water at a young age can give parents a greater sense of control while addressing babies’ curiosity. One way to do this is to enroll your baby in baby “swimming” lessons.
By the age of 6 months your baby is ready to participate in parent-child swim classes. The idea of this type of class is not for formal instruction, your child will not be ready for this type of lesson until they are at least 3 or 4 years old. The point of these classes is to get young babies comfortable in the water and for socialization with other babies.
For residents of O’Fallon, Missouri and the surrounding cities there are several places that offer local parent-child swimming classes.
O’Fallon Family YMCA – This location offers the SKIP class. The SKIP class is for babies and children ages 6 months all the way up to age three. This is a plus for parents with young children close in age. The class is a 30 minute class that teaches basic swimming skills and swimming safety by using age-appropriate songs and games. There are two summer sessions. One beginning in June and the other begins in July. The sessions are 4 week sessions with classes meeting twice a week. The cost is $86 for non-members and $43 for members. You can register online at www.ymcastlouis.org or you can register by phone by calling 636-379-0092. The O’Fallon Family YMCA branch is located at 3451 Pheasant Meadows Drive, O’Fallon, MO 63368.
The Renaud Spirit Center – This is a state-of-the-art 66,000 square foot recreational center that opened in 2006 in the O’Fallon Sport Park. Since its opening it has been giving O’Fallon parents as well as parents in the entire St. Charles County area piece of mind with its Learn-to-Swim Program. This program consists of 11 stages of swim that children can be exposed to at the logical time according to age and skill level. The program has two different parent-child classes – Shrimp 1 and Shrimp 2. The first program, Shrimp 1, is for babies ages 6 – 18 months and is an water introductory class for babies. It is also a water safety class for parents. While babies are getting use to the water and having fun splashing with mom or dad, parents are being taught how to look out for their children with tips on how to play in the water with children and appropriate supervision. The Shrimp II class is for toddlers ages 18 months – 36 months who have outgrown the younger class, but still feel more at ease with a parent nearby.
In this class, toddlers are taught basic swimming and water safety. Each class is 35 minutes long and there are several classes offered throughout the summer. The rates for these classes are $38 for residents of O’Fallon, MO and $44.00 for non-residents. You can register online at www.renaudspiritcenter.com or call them at 636-474-2REC (2732). The Renaud Spirit Center is located at 2650 Tri-Sports Circle, O’Fallon, MO 63368.
Rec-Plex – Before the Renaud Spirit Center opened, this was really the only other place available in the St. Charles County area to offer swim lessons besides the YMCA locations. The Rec-Plex has been offering swimming lessons since 1994 and currently offers an Infant Swim Program that is open to babies ages 6- 18 months. The theme of these lessons are parent encouragement. Parents are taught how to hold their babies in the water so that they are safe, but also have the freedom to explore their water surroundings by kicking, touching and splashing. Babies will learn front kick, back float and water exit. The classes are 30 minutes long with a large variety of times and days available. The cost for this program is $44.00 for members and $49.00 for non-members. Registration can occur online at www.stpetersmo.net or by phone at 636.939.2386 ext. 400.
Tips on Choosing a Program: All of the program mentioned above are similar in nature, so how do you pick the one that is right for you and your baby? Of course cost, location and schedule matter, but there are other considerations as well. Visit each location and check out the temperature of the pool. The warmer the pool, the happy your baby ( and you) will be. Observe a class and get a feel for the instructor’s personality. Also, check out the maximum amount of people that are allowed in a class. The smaller the better, no more than 8 pairs is ideal. Remember to ask about lifeguards. There should always be a lifeguard on duty in case an accident would occur.
Swimming is a skill that everyone should learn. Starting lessons with your child when they are a baby is giving them a head-start and the confidence to help them love the water for the rest of their lives. Since parent participation is mandatory for these types of lessons, it will also be a great bonding experience for you and your baby.