PARENTS face many distractions in their daily life. At home, the TV might be on, the phone is ringing, the helper needs supervision and the kids are crying.
Trying to spend quality time bonding with your child is not as easy as it was 40 years ago.
Apart from switching off all electronic and electrical equipment and locking yourself in the room with your baby, how else can parents find time for one-on-one bonding with their babies?
Baby swimming is a great option and a lot of fun, too.
Businesswoman Rusalyssa Aizat, 24, has been taking her son for baby swimming classes regularly. She wanted to teach him to be more relaxed in the water and to be independent.
“Each swim is about 30 minutes. I get to really focus on communicating and engaging with him, while he gets comfortable in his surroundings. It was hard at first but after a few sessions, he enjoyed it."
“Swimming helps me and my boy bond better. He enjoys splashing in the water, piggyback rides and just lazing around in the water. He's more relaxed and giggles a lot. It keeps him out of trouble, too!"
“We both look forward to the classes. As a business owner, I don't get to spend much time with him at home so regular slots like these help me to focus on him without having to worry about cooking, cleaning, etc. I can't wait to see what else he will gain out of this. So far he has become braver and more independent; perhaps at the next few sessions he'll pick up more skills. I can't wait!” says Rusalyssa.
Financial analyst Iza Shahira, 27, started her son on the baby spa from as young as three months. Since then, they have been visiting the public pool. It's a once-a-week swim with dad and mum.
She says it was initially done to build his muscles and to introduce him to a form of exercise. It was also done so that he would have a good night's sleep after that, as swimming is known to tire baby out.
According to her, the time with her son is precious and it's during these special swimming sessions that she and her husband get to dedicate one-on-one time to their son and to communicating with him.
“We enjoy every swim session and always look forward to the weekend just to spend a few hours with him in the pool,” says Iza.
According to Wan Shafiza Hazreen Boerhan, marketing director of Aquasplash Academy, swimming is a wonderful way for parent and infant to bond in a relaxing environment.
At the Aquasplash Academy, infants can go for classes from six to 15 months. From 16-36 months, they would join the toddler class. Because there are infants and toddlers involved, the parents need to be in the class, or rather, in the pool, with their child.
For the 45-minute duration of the class, the parent is in the pool with their baby, with no TVs, helpers, phones and very often no wristwatch. Plus, their other kids are usually at home.
That means for the 45-minute duration of the swimming class, the parent and infant are completely focused on each other.
“Normally, the parents have to be with their babies, to take care of their child, during the swimming class. The classes are more to build up their water confidence. The baby needs someone they trust to hold them and that's where the bonding comes in,” explains Wan Shafiza, who is a mum herself.
The babies are taught to swim through play. This is the best way for children to learn, after all.
The mother or father will play with their baby in the water, and eventually the babies are taught to hold their breath and dive into the water. According to Wan Shafiza, if the babies are taught swimming in a normal class setting, they won't experience water play and won't have water confidence. Plus, it won't be any fun for the baby or parent.
She says that normally the Aquasplash baby swimming classes have more dads than mums participating.
“We have more dads because some mums can't swim or have water phobia. This gives dads more playtime with their babies in the water. Sometimes the mums are not confident and would rather their husbands go for the class."
“The new parents normally are not so confident and when they are not confident, the baby is not comfortable because the babies know when their parents are fearful. The babies react to how confident and comfortable their parents are. If the parents are confident, they can learn to swim because they are comfortable and can gain confidence,” says Wan Shafiza.
According to her, most parents enrol for the class because their baby loves water so they come for classes as they want to spend time bonding with their baby and also have some water playtime with their baby.
“The parents also enjoy the classes because we teach them how to communicate with their babies. Some parents really don't know how to do this,” she adds.
Normally there are four to eight babies in a class. The babies learn to dive and are taught water safety in class. Parents are told to help their infants practise holding their breath at home in their long bath.
Swimming builds up the babies' arm muscles, improves their stamina and also helps them sleep well at night. Aquasplash recommends they go for classes up till three months because by then the baby would have learnt to dive.
According to Wan Shafiza, some toddlers perform better when their parents are there because they want to show their parents what they can do. It motivates them to do better.
What better time for some one-on-one attention after all.