Category Archives: Things to do

Swim Baby Swim

Being a pretty useless swimmer myself, I was keen to get Fred into the pool as soon as possible to ensure that he is confident and capable in water. I also thought that after spending 9 months in the womb, he’d probably be fairly at home there.

We began lessons when he was 4 months old and haven’t really looked back. Such is his excitement, that even before we’re in the pool his legs are kicking in anticipation and that’s pretty much how it continues throughout the lesson (which is lucky!)

We’ve recently joined London Baby Swim in Wandsworth, which I’d highly recommend. It’s in a purpose built unit, so there’s loads of space. As the focus is on babies and toddlers, the changing rooms are set up with baby changing mats and a playpen, plus there are high chairs in the reception area. The facilities are also kept really clean and the water temperature is warmer than a usual pool, so very baby friendly. In term’s of the lessons, there’s a really nice balance between helping the babies to learn some essential skills and having fun in the water.

We’re now reaching 6 months of swimming lesson, so along the way I’ve picked up some top tips on how to make the most of the experience. I hope that you find them useful.

  • Be organised about finding lessons – in London, baby swimming lessons tend to get booked up fairly quickly, particularly for the more popular weekend slots, so sign up to newsletters from pools that you like the look of, which means that you can book as soon as that term’s lessons become available.
  • Give yourself plenty of time – getting yourself and baby changed often takes even longer than the actual swimming.
  • Make sure that your baby is well rested before the lessons – a cranky baby is more likely to be overwhelmed by the experience, which can mean tears in the pool.
  • Double wrap your baby’s bottom – your cute little floater doesn’t want to be the generator of any floaters in the pool, with some pools now insisting that you use both a swimming nappy and Happy Nappy swimming trunks.
  • Plan your post lesson escape – have everything that you need to get baby warm and changed at the top of your bag, as it saves you having to scrabble around after the lesson.
  • Take a drink and snacks for your baby to have after the lesson – the lessons might only be 30 minutes long, but it’s both mentally and physically tiring for them.

A Bee’s Knees Activity in Battersea (for 0-5s)

One of the things that I’ve always loved about London is the fact that with a little imagination and an open mind you can easily find lots of new and unique adventures. It’s pretty easy to be the first to discover a wonderful new bar, restaurant, band, dj, theatre show….and so forth, which makes you feel like an urban Indiana Jones.

I did wonder whether all adventures would stop with the arrival of baby Fred, but am pleased to report that in many ways life continues, so I’ve been able to maintain my Indiana Jones-ness with a baby twist. Think of Harrison Ford with a baby strapped to his front, with a small patch of sick on his shoulder and you’ve pretty much got me.

I’ll stop the lame Indiana Jones analogies there, as it would be unfair to refer to the Bees Knees as the Temple of Doom. The Bees Knees is a new kids playspace at Battersea Arts Centre. BAC are great at pushing the boundaries of theatre. A couple of years ago I attended the One on One festival, a delightfully subversive theatre experience quite unlike anything else I’ve been to before or since. If you see that it is on again, definitely go and check it out. So I was quite intrigued to see what The Bees Knees would be all out.

The Bees Knees is a really lovingly put together indoor play space. There’s a man made grass hill up to a tower and drawbridge, with a room under the tower. For kids of all ages, it enables them to be little adventurers in a safe environment. I was half tempted to roll down the hill myself. There are also lots of toys available.

It’s extremely good value versus your typical soft play venue, as in the mornings you are asked to make a very reasonable donation of £2.50, whilst in the afternoons there are often workshops for the little ones, otherwise entry is free. Be aware though that access is only during the week, as at the weekends it’s hired out for private parties.

Once you’ve tired out your little bundles of joy, you can then pop over to BAC’s cafe where they serve good quality cafe grub, alongside some rather tasty cakes.

The whole of the BAC is very baby friendly, with a buggy park area, baby change facilities and a number of high chairs in the cafe. And not a pit of snakes in sight! A winner on all fronts.


PS. Do keep an eye out for the scary ravens. They’re perched on a shelf in the Bees Knees room and are surprisingly life-like.