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Adapting water play for my toddler

Published Date: 10 Jun 2021

Child in paddling pool

After months of winter lockdown, the simplest things are no longer taken for granted. To be able to sit carefree in the garden with friends is now a real privilege. The warmer weather of late is a huge bonus and we wasted no time getting out the paddling pool and doing some water play with our three-year-old.

Though most children jump straight into the pool, we have a few precautions to take first. Bilaterally implanted two years ago, Isabelle’s ‘ears’ are moderately splash-proof but we are extra cautious as, like many three-year-olds, she dives straight in and is soaked within seconds! Luckily, her cochlear kit comes with a set of aqua ‘ears.’ These consist of a waterproof coil/magnet and a flexible water cover for her processor. Though Isabelle has had swimming lessons since she was a baby, we stuck to signing and lip-reading in the water. We actually hadn’t tested out her aqua kit until last year during lockdown. It was fantastic to see her face as she heard the sound of splashing water in the pool for the first time. I was even a tad envious as this has never been an option for me with my ancient hearing aid! (Ancient by choice, I’m a terrible audiology patient, but a much better audiology parent!) We’ve stuck to just using one processor in the water at the moment. Our paranoia tells us that if it did get waterlogged and needed replacing, at least she wouldn’t be left without any hearing in the meantime. While the sound is a little muffled through the cover, after a few minutes wear, she adjusts and can still hold a conversation and turn to her name if we need her which is brilliant.

Girl's cochlear implant

While out and about we always use a retainer clipped to her clothing to make sure we don’t lose her processors. This doesn’t work on the aqua kit but it does come with an alternative clip which loops through and clips to her costume. Being a little more bulky, it doesn’t sit on her ear as easily and does fall off more. This presented a conundrum when we recently went to Centre Parcs. Being the trainee stuntwoman that she is, we knew she’d want to go on all the water slides. I researched additional retention devices, such as headbands, head ties and hats. There’s so many options, ultimately it’s just what works for the individual. I decided to go with a simple fabric Zoggs swim cap. More flexible than a traditional rubber hat, it easily stretched over her aqua kit and ensured it didn’t budge an inch for the two hours she was zipping down slides and getting drenched under falling buckets of water!

It always takes a few extra minutes to get ready for swimming, not to mention fitting the custom-made swim moulds she wears to try and prevent ear infections. It can sometimes be tricky with a wiggly and impatient little lady but it’s always worth it. We are incredibly grateful that the technology enabling Isabelle to hear has gone one step further to give her sound in the water. What a lucky little water baby she is.


Nicky and her husband Ross are parents to Isabelle (5) and Jack (2). Isabelle is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants, and  Jack is severely to profoundly deaf and wears hearing aids. Nicky is severely deaf herself and wears a hearing aid.