Until a child is four or five months old, it’s pretty much just eat, sleep and cry... but not little Oliver Hardinges.
At just fourteen days old, Oliver was already learning to swim, earning him the title of the youngest baby to ever swim with Water Babies Bucks and Beds, which runs lessons at Moulton College.
For parents, Emma and Phil Hardinges, who live in Abington, their children’s sense of confidence in the water was always a priority.
A swimming teacher herself, Emma knew that starting Oliver early meant giving him the best possible chance of growing up to be safe and happy whether splashing or swimming around.
Emma said: “It’s terrifying to think that children go to primary school without knowing how to swim – some even get as far as secondary school before dipping a toe in the water.
“Oliver’s big sister, Bella, started her swimming classes at four weeks and took to it like a duck to water.
“Even though he looked so small, we never once thought he would be too young."
Swimming classes at Moulton College are in a specially adapted hydrotherapy pool.
Emma herself has been an avid swimmer since childhood, even competing at a national level for Wellingborough.
At 17, she became a fully qualified lifeguard at Northampton Leisure Centre and now, at 30, teaches little Water Babies of her own, at classes in Milton Keynes and Northampton.
In fact, when Emma returns from her maternity leave in April, she’ll be Oliver’s teacher.
“Phil will carry on bringing Oliver to his lesson every week, just like he did with Bella.
"He’s a keen swimmer, like me – we actually met at a local pool, during a lifeguard course. Bella was good as gold when I was teaching her but something tells me Oliver might be a little monkey.”
Tamsin Brewis, owner of Water Babies Bucks and Beds said she had no concerns when it came to welcoming a newborn to classes.
“Most of our little swimmers tend to start at 12 weeks’ old, as many parents choose to bring their little ones along to classes at four weeks – which had initially been the plan for Oliver.
“Starting him two weeks early was never a problem as our teachers are fully qualified and trained to support little ones from just a few days old, right through to pre-school age."
Emma said the family may be more comfortable in the water than on dry land.
She said: "Oliver and Phil always have a great time in the pool – it gives them some really important father and son time.
"And the best part… There’s never tears at bath-time!”
For more information on the benefits of baby swimming, visit www.waterbabies.co.uk/baby-swimming/benefits-of-baby-swimming.