Several questions plague the minds of parents when they see images and videos of swimming infants bobbing up and down in the pools. Are those babies trained in swimming? Does swimming pose any risk for the baby? What precautions are taken beforehand? And, most important of all – what is the right age for the baby to start swimming?
Interested to enrol your baby in a swimming lesson? Get to know the basics and prepare your baby for the first swim!
When can my baby start swimming?
Very early, might not be a good idea. The American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) now supports swimming lessons for children ages 1 and older who show signs of pool readiness and are frequently exposed to water.
That said, it’s important to understand that age is not the only factor to keep in mind, your little bub might be ready to enter water earlier or later, depending on how much he’s been exposed to water, whether he enjoys being in water or not, and most importantly, whether your paediatrician recommends it or not.
For infants under the age of 1, the AAP recommends against swim programs because the risks may outweigh the benefits. But, you can still take your little one to the kiddie pool for them to just splash about in your arms, anytime after they’ve turned 6 weeks old.
For children ages, 1 to 4, seek parent-and-child aquatics programs, where the instructors are trained professionals who are certified in CPR and never allow a child’s head to go below the water’s surface.
For swimmers ages 5 and older: you can try classes for kids both with and without parents. Try to find one that focuses on safe pool behavior as well as paddling and kicking.
Introducing Swimming & Water
- Once your infant can sit up, start spending more time in the bathtub with her/him.
- Introduce bath toys and make water time a fun time for them!
- Start off by getting an inflatable pool, big enough for the parent, at home. This will ensure that the baby learns the basics in a safe environment.
- Sign up for parent-toddler swimming classes. Unarguably, one of the best ways to teach swimming. Warding off possible fears for water, the baby will feel secure with a parent around.
- Begin with the baby pool initially, where the water is at an appropriate level and there are kids of the same age.
- Maintain eye contact with the baby and avoid being nervous yourself. Do not create unnecessary pressure on the baby. Let him enjoy and be comfortable in the water.
Be patient and let your little swimmer gain confidence to learn to swim.
Swimming Safety Tips
- Never leave a baby unattended in water, even if it is a small bathtub.
- For infants and toddlers, the water should be ideally at 32-degree Celsius.
- It is imperative to use safety swim gear, floats or life jackets, caps, goggles and earplugs for complete safety.
- Parents must learn CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation for emergencies.
- Swimming in public pools could cause infections, rashes or allergies. Consult your child’s doctor for preventive measures or if you notice anything unusual.
Does swimming benefit my baby?
From a baby’s perspective, swimming is a fun activity of splashing in the pool with friends. But in reality, it encompasses much more.
- Swimming physically augments the cardiovascular health by strengthening the lungs, blood vessels and the heart.
- It develops the muscles and improves overall controls, whilst the baby learns to coordinate and balance.
- Swimmers develop a good physique. This is because swimming drains a lot of energy, leading to a heightened appetite. This is followed by better naptimes and quicker height and weight gain.
- Swimming improves the brain’s cognitive functioning. Cross – pattern movements help your baby’s brain grow, improving reading skills, spatial development, communication skills etc.
- A baby who swims gains self-confidence, readiness to adapt to new situations, while boasting of greater concentration.
- Swimming is a life skill aiding in self-survival from drowning. Research proves that early swimming lessons prevent the risk of drowning in children between the ages of 1 to 4.
- Lastly, it is a great bonding experience for the parent and baby increasing quality time. The parent and the baby stay close and develop fond memories as he learns a new skill.
Swim Bag Essentials
Some must-haves for the little swimmer –
- First Aid (Bandages, Antiseptic Cream/ Solution, Cotton Ear Buds, etc.)
- Sunscreen with SPF 30+, for possible skin damage. You can try Natural Mineral Based Sunscreen from the The Moms Co.
- Disposable Swimming Diapers that do not swell and keep the baby dry, snug and infection free. For older kids, swimming suits suffice.
- Clean Hooded Towel and fresh clothes.
- Nose Aspirator to clear the nasal passage post the swim.
As long as you are well prepared and have taken the necessary precautions, swimming is going to be safe and fun. Swimming is truly one of the best ways to spend quality time by unwinding with your little munchkin. Grab your swim bag and head off for fun at the pool. Learn more about Sun damage and Protection for Babies.