I have been afraid of deep water for a major portion of my life. Sure, I went to those few summer swimming classes at YMCA like many kids in India did when I was 7 or 8. Those taught me the basics of flapping my legs and what a freestyle stroke should look like. But, it was too little too late and the forced jumping off the deep end of the pool scarred me rather than give me confidence. So, for most of my life I would go into swimming pools only if my feet could touch the bottom and I went into beaches only until waist deep water.
I finally did learn swimming properly at the grand old age of 23 and can manage to do a couple of laps now without falling into a panic but the deep sea still frightens me. I decided back then that I’d teach my child how to swim (properly) early on itself so that he didn’t have to suffer the same fate as me. Which is where Baby’s Castle comes in.
Baby’s Castle is a new activity centre in Khar, Mumbai that focuses on providing aqua therapy classes to infants. Comprised of two indoor pools, a play area and even a spa area for waiting moms, Baby’s Castle is spread over a huge 4000 sqft area. Their aim? To introduce the concept of infant swimming in India.
Before my session with Baby M, I had the opportunity to talk with Baby Castle’s Director, Priyanka Bhoir, who much to my wonder told me that their facilities could be used for babies as young as one month old! Having lived in NZ for a bit I’ve seen swimming classes for babies as young as 8 months old but this was quite the revelation. She went on to tell me about how the natural environment for any baby is underwater (from their time in utero) and that babies have a natural instinct to float which they slowly forget over time since we don’t introduce swimming to them soon enough – what a shame!
I won’t bore you with specifics but research has proven that teaching babies to swim is about more than them having fun in the water. This is because baby swimmers have better balance and are better at grasping things than non-swimmers. And get this, aqua therapy even helps improve sleep quality among infants (Goodbye, sleep training!). For more information on the benefits of aqua therapy do check out Baby’s Castle’s full website.
Ofcourse, I wasnt going to see all these benefits with M in one session but having spoken with Priyanka, I was super excited about our session. The lovely staff there also showed me their quiet massage area where moms can get a foot spa while their kid plays in the pool but I opted not to get this as I was too excited to see M in the water.
Spa area aside, what I thought was great is that children can enjoy the play are adjoining the pools after their sessions which has slides, cars and all sorts of toys. Since we were visiting on a weekday afternoon the only child there was Priyanka’s adorable son but I could envision a room full of squealing babies having fun in this environment.
The indoor pools at Baby’s Castle are chlorine free, use the latest water purification techniques and are kept warm so that babies find it comfortable. They have these cute Doughnut shaped floatation devices that help baby float in water and are great for infants that cant support their neck yet.
We used one for M for a bit but then he got uncomfortable and so I just jumped into the pool too to help get him familiarised with the tutor.
Throughout our half hour session, M waskept entertained with various toys and books and taken from one are to another so that he could practice splashing and flapping his legs. It was too soon for an underwater dip but I am told that infants take to it really well in just a few sessions.
If you take a package at Baby’s Castle, they have various levels of pool therapy where they teach the child to float, kick, flip and even do small arm rotations eventually.
I had entered Baby’s Castle with the aim of having a spot of fun with Baby M. And, while I certainly had that I left convinced that I must introduce him to swimming as soon as I can.
Baby’s Castle has a range of plans and parents can opt for individual visits as well as for 10-20 turns depending on their preference. For more information, do visit their website.
Disclaimer: I was invited for a free of charge introductory session at Baby’s Castle through the JAMMS Network. However, the thoughts on my experience there are my own and the invite has in no way impacted my recommendation.