Swimming can open the door to many recreational and social activities, but it’s also a necessary life skill. Enrolling your baby in swimming lessons will, not only teach her a skill that could save her life or the life of someone else, but also enhance and increase her developmental skills.
Swimming has been proven to help increase the parent-child bond, develop motor skills and stimulate the brain, exercise new muscles and increase concentration. It has also been suggested that babies who learn how to swim may learn how to walk earlier than babies who don’t. This is because water allows babies to move around freely, increasing their confidence and improving coordination.
The most important benefit to teaching your baby how to swim is to reduce the risk of drowning. Swimming lessons will teach your children how to handle unexpected accidents in the water.
What’s the Best Age for Swimming Lessons?
There are differing opinions as to when babies should start swimming lessons. Some health experts have suggested waiting until six months of age, when your baby has completed her two, four and six month immunization shots. But recent research indicates waiting until six months is no longer necessary. Babies can start as early as one week, but most classes don’t begin until after 12 weeks.
Starting swimming lessons within a couple months after birth has its benefits. Babies naturally know to hold their breath while in the water thanks to their diving reflex. This reflex closes the throat when the baby is submerged in water to prevent drowning. It often disappears within a couple months after birth, but may last longer if the baby is introduced to swimming.
What Will Parents and Babies Learn?
Most lessons for young babies are designed to teach the baby how to float, get her used to the water and show parents games and activities to do with baby while in the pool. Parents are also taught about water safety, such as choking and hypothermia prevention.
Getting Your Baby Water Ready
Regardless of when you decide to enrol your baby in swimming lessons, you may want to introduce her to the water on your own first. Some suggestions for introducing your baby to water include:
- Making bath time fun. Splash water on your baby and incorporate toys.
- Visiting a pool during quiet time. The first trip to the pool may be overwhelming so it’s important to go at a time when there aren’t so many sights and sounds that may over stimulate your baby.
- Holding your baby close to you as you take her in the pool for the first time. Maintain eye contact to let her know it’s safe.
- Introducing her little by little until she’s completely comfortable. Once your baby looks tired or starts to shiver, remove her from the water.
You will also want to get your baby ready for swimming with the proper gear. This means ensuring your baby is wearing swim diapers and a bathing suit.
Introducing your baby to water and teaching her how to swim is imperative to her safety. When your baby learns how to swim, she will be prepared to handle the unexpected while in and around water, as well as relax and enjoy all that it has to offer.