One of the best things that’s happened this year is seeing my two-year-old change from someone who didn’t seem to care for swimming to someone who loves it, and is confident in the water. Weirdly, the process began when we stopped going to swimming lessons, and started to swim regularly with her friends. She went from clinging onto mummy to leaping into the water, laughing and smiling.
We usually swim at the London Aquatics Centre, but in the post-Olympics glow, a couple of times we’ve found sessions to be full at weekends when we’ve come to book.
It was a blessing in disguise because it got us to try the new Poplar baths, which recently reopened after being closed for more than 30 years.
It’s been completely refurbished. Everything is clean and new, and it’s great for toddlers.
That’s because it’s got a dedicated toddler pool, which as far as I can tell, is open all the time (unlike the ones at Mile End pool and York Hall). At the sides it’s 0.7m, in the middle it’s 0.9m, and it’s distinctly warmer than the accompanying adult 25m pool.
One thing I realised rather late in the day (when we went to Woolwich leisure pool. See this post) is how much fun – and probably reassuring – it is for a toddler to be able to stand in the water unassisted. Now my little Nemo regularly tells me, “I don’t need help, Mummy”. And it’s true. She can stand up in the pool, she can even jump in with a noodle round her (or sea snake as we prefer) and swim off.
If you decide to try Poplar baths (and I really recommend it) here are a few other things you might like to consider.
- Try to go to an Aquasplash session (check out the timetable here) because they have some really nice floats and toys for toddlers.
- If it’s not busy, go to the family changing rooms. There are four of them (I think) – they’re huge and they have a shower in them, making it really easy to get showered and changed with your toddler.
- If you’re able to go with another adult, you can take it in turns to slip into the adult pool and enjoy a few lengths yourself.
- The pool is a one minute walk from All Saints DLR station (come out of the station and turn left). There’s a lift to the basement where the pool is located. For me anyway this is an incredibly easy, low-stress journey – no steps or carrying at any point.
What? Poplar baths.
When? Check here for opening times.
How much? I can’t see the prices on the better website for a one-off visit, because they’re busy trying to sell membership, but your toddler goes free and I think it’s £5 (a little less or a little more) for adults who don’t have membership.
Facilities and access A one-minute walk from All Saints DLR. Come out of the station, turn left, you’re there. There’s lifts at the DLR and at the pool – access couldn’t be easier and there are family changing rooms with baby-changing facilities. It’s 20p (refunded) for a locker. The pool also has a slightly uninspiring looking cafe, which we haven’t tried.