Heated pool / affordable swim lessons
I did a whole lot of research to try and find the swim lesson scenario best for my family. There are so many options out there for east bay families. I checked out everything from cheap (or Free via financial aid) lessons at local parks to lessons at private clubs. I settled on the Berkeley YMCA for one reason: HEATED BABY POOL!!
Now if you are a Bay Area native you probably can choose an outside pool because I am convinced you guys have blood infused with polar bear blood lol! But for me, and because I thought my baby would be more comfortable as well, I choose a heated and indoor pool at the Berkeley YMCA. Traveling all the way to Berkeley is fine with me in exchange for ninety-two degree water.
They also have a generous financial aid program for membership, the swim program and their babysitting services. You can choose to pay a little more for the class and not join the Y. Your partner or a grandparent can come in to watch the classes for free, they just have to sign in at the desk. Parking is free or discounted at the garage next door depending on when you park there. Our Saturday classes fall during the free parking time.
The cuteness of the class itself is off the charts. A bunch of babies and their caretakers splashing around, singing, playing with bath toys for a half hour. Babies wear a swim diaper (catches poop only so don’t try to use them as regular diapers if you run out, ahem….). Babies also are asked to wear a layer over the diaper so of course the weekly baby swimwear fashion show is adorable! It is over really quickly – a half hour class – but there are plenty of open baby swim times throughout the week.
We started our daughter at one year. I totally think starting her earlier would have been better because she is more aware of danger (as a very curious toddler) and she is more anxious about the water than I would have expected. Start earlier around six months or perhaps wait until two years when toddlers generally have more confidence. That said, every kiddo is different of course.