Lifestyle,  Parenting

What happened to my water baby?

Molly was only 6 weeks old when I took her swimming for the first time. She loved it. We went swimming often because of how much she enjoyed it. She was a real water baby. I thought it would be a good idea for her to have swimming lessons but the local pool didn’t offer lessons to those under two and a half. I put Molly’s name on the waiting list so she could start having lessons as soon as she was old enough.

Molly always loved splashing around in the swimming pool. She loved splashing around in the bath. Whenever the paddling pool came out she would dive right in.

We went on holiday to Lanzarote last year and Molly absolutely loved the pool. There was a kid’s splash pool which she wanted to play in all the time. We could be walking past the pool in the morning on the way to breakfast and she would excitedly ask if we could go swimming. She even loved going in the main swimming pool and that was bordering on freezing! The cold didn’t bother her. She would jump straight in with Daddy and have a ball, only wanting to get out when she was tired or hungry. Water baby all the way!


However, a few months ago I started noticing that Molly wasn’t having as much fun in the swimming pool as usual. Suddenly she didn’t like the water going in her face and wouldn’t lie back in the water. She wouldn’t sit on a big float and she would scream if I even suggested she might like to jump in. The only thing she would do was cling to me and let out a terrified yell if I dared to let go.

We had always taken her swimming in a swimming vest and had never had any problems. When she started to get panicky in the water I bought some armbands for her to see if she preferred them. They didn’t help at all. In fact, she only liked the armbands because her cousin wore armbands. What happened to my water baby?

I’m not quite sure what changed or when, but she appeared to have shifted from water baby to cry baby. I definitely didn’t foresee a problem when I put her name on the waiting list for swimming lessons.


She still loves bath time. The last time it was warm enough to get the paddling pool out she still loved playing in that. I really do not know why she doesn’t like swimming anymore. Maybe because the water is deep in the swimming pool? Though this hadn’t usually bothered her.

In January, I received a phone call from the local sports centre about Molly starting swimming lessons. I had to tell them I would get back to them about whether or not she would be attending.

On the one hand I wanted to send Molly for lessons because she needs to know how to swim, and because regular lessons may have encouraged her to regain her confidence in the water. On the other hand, I wondered if swimming lessons would be a waste of time. What is the point in paying for lessons if she is just going to cling to the instructor the entire time?


If I mention going swimming Molly gets really excited and runs to her bedroom to get her swimming costume. As we approach the sports centre she points the building out enthusiastically. Once inside the sports centre she cannot wait to get her swimming costume and armbands on. We practically run to the pool because she is so eager to get in the water. She loves the thought of swimming.

We happily stroll down the steps into the water together. Then it gets deeper and she clings to me for dear life. She will not let go. She looks terrified and physically shakes at the prospect of me letting her go. I am completely stumped about this fear she has developed.

Shallow water = ok      Deep water = no go zone

When I say this the obvious problem seems to be that she doesn’t like deep water. I can understand that. But what I don’t understand is why she suddenly developed a fear when it was never an issue.

There haven’t been any incidents which may have caused Molly to be scared in the water. And if there had been, surely she wouldn’t be excited at the thought of going swimming. I really do not know what to do to ease her fear. I took her swimming the other day and we were in the water for 8 minutes.  About 5 of those minutes Molly was sat on the side of the pool. It hardly seems worth going. The only saving grace is that we do not pay to go swimming as it is included in my gym membership.

For now, Molly’s swimming lessons are on hold but hopefully not for too long. I am going to take her swimming at least once a week to try and ease her fear, though it hasn’t worked so far. I feel I have to persist though for her sake. Or maybe I should avoid swimming with her altogether until she gets older and can decide for herself if she wants to have lessons.

Has anyone ever experienced anything like this? How did your child get over their fear? Does anybody have any tips I can try? Should I just bite the bullet and send her to swimming lessons?


Sam x


You can also find me blogging at Serenely Sam


Rhyming with Wine


  • mums' army

    My oldest boy did the exact same thing, loved the water and everything to do with it then he got to about 2 and suddenly couldn’t even stand to get a splash on his face! We couldnt think of anything that had happened to make him feel like this it was really strange. Then he got to nearly 3 and he loves it again?! I don’t know whether they start to understand a danger in some things and feel fear doing something they previously loved? xx Nicky #DreamTeam

  • Samantha Buckley

    My little girls 10 weeks old and we are going swimming for the first time tomorrow! I can’t wait to see if she will enjoy it and I’m hoping she does. Hopefully Molly will enjoy it once again xx

  • Tubbs

    Hopefully it’s just a stage and as Molly gets older, she’ll grow to love water again. (Sorry, apart from that I have nothing!)

  • The Tale of Mummyhood

    Ah bless her. I hope she soon finds her feet in the water again and starts to enjoy it! #triumphanttales

  • Http://

    Hopefully it’s just a stage. I have always had a fear of the water but it’s getting better. Playing in shallow water helps x

    • stressymama

      I really hope so. She’s definitely prefering shallow water at the minute x

  • Sarah Howe @runjumpscrap

    Hmm my daughter was more the opposite; a bit clingy then after a holiday loved it and went to lessons. She is 3 though. I think they become more aware after being blissfully ignorant! I hope it is just a phase xx #triumphanttales x

  • Ali Duke

    It is a bit strange she is suddenly not enjoying it. Hopefully it is just a phase and with a bit of persistance she will be over it quickly.

  • Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    We went through something similar with my son, although he was a lot younger. We did baby swimming lessons with him, which were in a very busy pool, and with a big emphasis on going underwater, both of which he hated. I found that the longer we were carrying on with the lessons, the worse he was getting, so we took a break, and then just started taking him to our local pool ourselves and easing him back in. Now he loves it, much more than he did the lessons – he’s just turned 3 now, so I’m wondering whether to start them up again, but definitely have questions in my mind about that! I’m sure it’ll just be a phase for your daughter, and if you keep taking her and let her go at her own pace for a bit she’ll be back to being a water baby again in no time! #FamilyFun

  • The Squirmy Popple

    My daughter recently developed a fear of the bath – it’s not quite the same, but it sounds like a similar water-fear issue. I think she got water in her eye once and now she’s terrified – no idea how to fix it, but it’s been going on for weeks. If you manage to get things sorted, any suggestions would be welcome! #FamilyFun

  • Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    I think as they grow older, they begin to sense the danger in certain things and start fearing them. We used to take my son to the local pool since he was 1 ( not on a regular basis, but he loved being in). He even went down kids slides and other pool rides in Centerparcs last year! However, off late whenever we mention the pool he tells us that he’s scared and it’s only for bigger boys! He’s now 3.
    A similar thing happened with him sleeping by himself… a few months back he started feeling scared of the dark and sleeping alone (even alone in his own bed, in our room) and now we’re back to co-sleeping.
    I think give Molly time and let her get comfortable in the water and learn to enjoy it again before starting classes. All the best.

  • Tammymum

    Oh I don’t know lovey. I’d be inclined to say that I would persevere with the water, in the hope that slow and steady wins he race. It’s a tricky one though especially seeing as she used to like it so much. I hope she gets back into it soon. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun xx

  • justsayingmum

    Oh bless her. I wonder whether it is that she is getting older and senses a fear and can sense that there could be danger – and rightly so but i do hope she overcomes this soon. Baby steps all the way I often find is the best way and huge praise!! #FamilyFun

  • Annette, 3 Little Buttons

    Oh no! I think it’s quite normal though. Different interests peak at different times, and perhaps something else has caught your little ones eye. Thanks so much for sharing with the #dreamteam. I’m sure your happy splasher will be back soon. xx

  • Jaki

    The Little Man loves swimming but the minute we try and entertain the idea of taking the arm bands off to encourage him to use a float and learn to swim he hates the idea. I think it must be a confidence thing. We’re just going to bide our time and go at his pace. Thanks for linking up to #TriuphantTales again lovely.

  • Susie at This is me now

    This is exactly whAt happened with me! I wrote a post about it too last year! Apart from we were already doing lessons and my daughter suddenly hated it and started crying all the time, clinging on for dear life and really not enjoying it. We did Waterbabies and she would hate going under water. We stopped lessons last May then did another block august-sept at a new pool which was much cheaper. Again she hated it and I ended up crying in one class! I thought paying for it was a waste so we stopped – we started going as a family every now and again and not putting her under and she’s much happier. To the point in considering starting lessons again. But she still won’t go under and this seems to be the focus of all lessons (here anyway) so I think I will hold off til she’s older and understands more. She’s 2 and 3 months at the mo. My advice is follow her lead. There’s no point forcing her. Maybe have a break for a while and then see how she is xx #FamilyFun

  • Mrs Mummy Harris

    I have no tips unfortunately, but hoping its just a phase? from the comments received it appears so, which doesnt help at all as the only thing to help would be time and patience. I hope she gets over her fear soon, perhaps try a fun pool with flumes and wave machines etc?
    Thank you for joining us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back on Tuesday

  • Crummy Mummy

    Children learn fear though don’t they? Mine have always been good with water – I put it down to being born in it! Not much help though, sorry! #postsfromtheheart

  • Fran Back With A Bump

    Oh bless her. How strange she’s suddenly got a fear. I’d personally try and tackle it and just go that little bit further each time maybe. I hope it passes and your little water baby returns! Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays x

  • Annette, Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne

    I’d say this is only a stage. Maybe she doesn’t like not having her swimming vest on? It’s probably quite a different sensation from wearing a swimsuit. Maybe she’s got that bit older that she is now aware of the potential danger? Like many things with kids, this shall pass… Take it easy and she’ll be back in the water in no time, when she feels ready. I would hold back on swimming lessons until she has regained her confidence – finding herself separated from you in a situation where she is so afraid might make it worse.
    Sending lots of positive vibes for your water baby to return 😉

  • Angela Watling (Life, Motherhood and Everything)

    How bizarre! My daughter went off swimming but she saw about 8 months ago not unusual. Definitely sounds like she dislikes deep water. Perhaps she’s suddenly aware that she can’t stand up and that scares her?? Your plan to keep trying sounds sensible – not forcing her to go in but regularly getting her near the water. Hopefully it will pass with time! #MarvMondays

  • Dave - Dad's Turn

    We have a similar thing. Little Bear loved the pool when he was tiny. Even kicked his legs to move around. But now he just floats holding on to me looking stunned the whole time. Who knows why they change. #MarvMondays