When is the best time to start baby swimming lessons?
7 May 2020
This is a question that I get a lot as a baby swimming teacher. My answer is always the same: as soon as the umbilical cord has fallen off!!! The earlier the better and if you want the best results you should definitely try to start lessons before six months. There are many reasons for this:
Babies are used to a water environment as they spent around 40 weeks in the placenta before being born. While in the womb the babies were used to naturally move in a water environment. If we start early with swimming lessons we will be able to draw from some of these innate skills and with patience and repetition make those skills voluntary which will result in your little becoming a very confident swimmer.
Baby movements are much easier in the water than on the floor, as the babies can do much more intensive movements than on land without hitting hard resistance e.g splashing and kicking. Due to being weightless in the water plus familiar with 40 weeks of wondering around in the womb, your baby will be more acquainted with the feeling of being surrounded by water than by air.
Babies under 6 months have not had a chance to develop aquaphobia, therefore they are more likely accept the water more readily and build a positive attitude to water, which can also make the bath time and swimming holidays much more fun.
Thanks to a set of reflexes, human infants are well disposed to swimming. Unfortunately, that set of reflexes gets weaker and disappears after 6 months. The most important reflex that helps with introducing babies to swimming are:
the Amphibian reflex (when babies are positioned flat down, they tend to bend and extend the arms and legs, if they are flat in the water that movement can be used as arms introduction and kick for example),
the Recoil Reflex (can also be used to kick),
the Diving reflex (when babies are submerged the diving reflex kicks in and as a response the babies will hold their breath while under the water),
the gag reflex (when water enters the babies mouth the gag reflex will seal the trachea to prevent water from entering their lungs).
Babies under 6 months are more likely to accept a new environment, will be easier with new people (e.g teacher and the other people in the swimming class) and less likely to throw tantrums.
Swimming stimulates appetite and improves babies’ sleeping patterns! That’s because the water resistance stimulates the babies’ nerve fibers creating a relaxing feeling, which helps the babies to sleep longer and deeper after swimming lessons. Extra hours of uninterrupted sleep!! What else could you ask for?!
If you live in London, you will be fortunate to have access to your own pool or to have exclusive access to a pool in London. However, being able to group together with other parents for baby group lessons with other babies of roughly the same age will help with the babies’ development of motor skills, as well as social skills and personality. In addition, it may give you the chance to meet other parents and make new friends.
What you need to ensure before starting out on swimming lessons with your little one are the following:
Find a warm pool – water temperature for under 12 months should be ideally 32 to 34 degrees.
Find a competent swimming teacher, most of the companies offered a trial so do take advantage of it.
Most importantly, have fun! I can guarantee that you will have amazing memories of these times with your baby and the bonding experience will be amazing.
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