Why every baby should learn to swim
Being a parent is challenging on a day to day basis. All of a sudden, you have this little person who you adore, but is also quite clueless and helpless when it comes to most of the things that we would take for granted. Your goal becomes to make sure that you teach them enough for them to be able to survive the trials of life. Can babies swim? The simple answer to this question is that they cannot. We tend to be confused when it comes to this because we see puppies and kittens that can swim at their first site of water.
These animals are born with that natural instinct for self-preservation, which most babies are not. Where they excel at natural instincts, our babies are endowed with the ability to grow their mental muscles to much greater heights than that of these animals. So, take heart. I mean, it is all unfair that a kitten will be running about within a few weeks, while your child will need about a year. Your child will be advanced beyond most kitten by the time he/she is three. Ok, back to swimming. NO, do not attempt to just throw your child into the water with hope that he/she will naturally be able to save themselves.
Most people would never consider that their baby should learn to swim. I learnt to swim when I was about nine if I remember correctly. Before that, I had at least two occasions where I could have drowned. My story is one of the fortunate ones. Other people do not necessarily share my good fortunes. Let throw some figures at you, so we can put this into context. About 7000 babies get hurt or die in water every single year! For most parents, it would mean that they would need to be very attentive of their child to ensure that the child is always safe. This is obviously not very practical; you cannot always have your eye on your little one, as cute as they are, and as much as you love them.
We don’t have a pool
A good portion of water accidents do not involve a pool at all. Some occur in bathtubs, dishes, ponds and such. Instead of having to be extra vigilant around these dangers, is it not perhaps a better solution to rather teach your child the skills that could save their life? Teach them skills that they can carry through the rest of their life.
Every baby should learn to swim
Although we believe that every baby should learn to swim, we also realise that it may be very impractical or very difficult to be able to teach your child to swim. I mean, if you are struggling to get them “potty trained”, swimming may not exactly seem very feasible. Take heart, though; it can be done. We have all seen that one baby on social media videos that is swimming. That could and perhaps should be your baby.
Natural response to water
Most babies will have natural responses to being put in water. The most common of this phenomenon is called the bradycardic response. They wiggle in water as well as instinctively hold their breath when under water. This would make sense because, the longer you can keep water outside of your lung cavity, the longer you will be able to breathe. This is not the case for all children, but most will respond this way. They obviously wouldn’t have been taught to respond in this way, so this is a natural response that they are born with.
When can babies learn to swim?
The requirements for babies to start learning to swim in maturity. As soon as they are able to hold their own head up, they are ready to start learning to swim. Most kids are at this stage by the time they are about 6-8 months old. If in doubt, it is recommended that you wait.
There are several aides that you may need to make use of, if not mandatory. The first thing that is common is floats on the arms which help when building up confidence with the water. Having an early scare can have scarring effects on the child, which would make it much harder for them to learn to swim, if they ever get past that. It is essential that you make it as comfortable a learning experience as possible to start with. If done right, they will enjoy it and learn a great life skill while they are at it.
Teach a baby to swim
As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. There is not one way to teach your child to swim. There are some methods that can be recommended for a start.
- Start in a small mass of water (i.e. bath tub).
- Do not complicate it by trying to teach them strokes or styles.
- First thing should be to be comfortable in water.
- Second would be to learn to float.
- In a pool, with you guiding them, teach them to angle their head backward by looking up. towards the sky, which is an easy way to float.
- With the arm floats, move into how to go about kicking in water.
- The easiest of these is the frog kick, which is used when doing the breast stroke.
- Introduce ball games to make it as fun as possible.
- Work on their desire to win, and encourage them to want to learn to swim fast
- Begin to introduce the strokes, such as the freestyle/front crawl.
- Remove any aids that they have been making use of.
- Explain the dangers of water to them, keen swimmers are to be made aware of these (open water swimming and so on).
Taking a baby swimming
There are three things that are worth considering if you decide to teach your baby to swim:
Teach baby to swim
- Get them accustomed to the water: Once they get used to it, they tend to love playing in the water.
- Make it leisurely: Do not make this a stressful period for your child. Make it as much fun as you possibly can.
- Be patient: Like most things you may attempt to teach your child, you will need to repeat and reinforce things. Don’t lose heart. Be patient with them
What do I need to know when taking a baby swimming? As said above, you ideally wouldn’t want the pool to be the first place your child encounters the idea of swimming. It may turn out to be quite the ordeal. Start them off gently, in the bath tub. There are some things that you need to prepare when finally taking them to swim in a bigger pool, especially if it is open to the public.
- Pick a pool that has a trainer pool, for beginners.
- The changing room can be very busy, so it is advisable that you get them into their swimwear while still at home. Put their clothing on top of the swimwear.
Things to take with you when taking a baby swimming
- Swimming cap
- Drying towel
- Swimwear (should go without saying)
In the end, rather invest this small amount of time in making sure that your baby learns to swim and is safe from various possible water injuries, including drowning. Get help from others who have done this. You are not alone.