Swimming lessons for babies one year old and above are life skills worth investing in. However, it is not advisable for infants and toddlers below one year of age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while swim lessons do not drown-proof a child, it does add a layer of protection. It is advantageous if a child knows how to enter the water, come up to the surface, turn around and propel to the side before exiting. But, be sure that you engage a trained professional, warrant maximum safety, and keep active supervision during the swim lesson.
Table of Contents
Swim lessons for kids: How early to start
You have probably seen videos of toddlers maneuvering themselves in the pool with all the confidence you never had.
It is both enthralling and heart-stopping as you anticipate the things that could go wrong. Thankfully, those videos always end up plausibly well, with toddlers happily lapping off the pool.
So you wonder, is it too late to start swim lessons for your kids?
When can they start swimming? Is enrolling in formal swim lessons for babies worth it?
The AAP has previously warned parents against letting children under four years of age swim. But, in 2010, the organization changed its stand and updated its advice.
It says now that parents and children over one year of age should learn to swim. A swim lesson is also necessary if your child has a high risk of drowning, like in cases of autism or living near bodies of water.
Take note, however, that swim lessons for infants are not recommended since they may not have developed the breathing skills necessary for the training yet. They are likely incapable of swimming independently.
Some babies may exhibit a swimming movement as an innate reflex, but most of them cannot even hold their heads up well in the water to breathe.
Furthermore, in infancy, the child’s immune system is also developing.
It might not be the right time to expose them to germs, especially if you use a public pool. You can wait a little longer for them to be able to fight off pathogens living in pool water.
While they are not yet ready for swimming classes, it won’t hurt to take infants to splash and enjoy the water.
What are the benefits of swimming in toddlers?
Bath time conditions babies to the feel of water in what experts call the water familiarisation. It stimulates their senses and provides stimulus-response conditioning. It takes the infant’s fear of the water and will eventually make them feel ready for swimming.
Swimming provides them with life skills to survive drowning or to exercise their little muscles.
Swimming is also important and should be introduced to toddlers for these reasons:
- Improve their cognitive functioning
- Improve their confidence
- Helps in muscle development and control
- Teach them coordination and balance
- Gives better sleep
- Boost appetite
- Provides more family quality time
Pool and swim lesson safety
You are ecstatic about your little one’s swimming lesson. But moms, remember that learning how to swim does not drown-proof your child.
The purpose should be to introduce water safety habits and build their swimming readiness skills.
Hire qualified instructors
Enroll your kid in a swim lesson only with a trained and qualified swimming instructor.
Choose the one with formal training or certification as a swim instructor. You should also ask if he has CPR and a First Aid Certification.
The instructor should have experience teaching the age and swim level of the child. There are swim instructors specialized in teaching your child specific needs and skills.
Ideally, they should be able to nurture a fun and enjoyable environment for babies instead of teaching unrealistic swim skill sets.
Maintain stringent supervision at all times
Keep this mantra: children should never swim alone.
Even if you deem that your child already knows how to swim, parents should never let them in the pool by themselves.
When teaching infants and toddlers, an adult should be around within arm’s reach to provide assistance and touch supervision.
It’s best to take classes that engage a parent-child duo to make the experience more fun.
Keep an age-appropriate atmosphere
Do not force your kid into a swim lesson when he seems disinterested in it.
A wailing and terrified child will not learn anything but more anxiety about the water. And speaking of age-appropriate, it is best to let your child wear a snug-fitting swimsuit in his lesson.
A kiddie’s pool is home to poop-related germs because accidents are bound to happen in a pool session. Tight swimsuits and swim diapers can prevent the spread of body waste when it happens.
How can I introduce my baby to the pool?
Babies react to pools differently for the first time. Do not force your little one but gradually introduce him into the water.
You can sway his legs gently until he gets acclimated to it, then bob him up and down the water.
There are other ways to safely and reassuringly get your child to enjoy the water; just go at his own pace.
Is a chlorinated pool safe for babies?
The chlorine in the pool may kill pathogens in the water, but it may not always be safe for infants with delicate immune systems.
According to Mayo Clinic, it increases the risk of asthma in infants, although there are conflicting results for it in many studies.
Still, it is recommended that you wait until the baby is old enough to expose him to chlorinated pools.
How can I prevent my baby from getting cold while in the pool?
During any pool session, observe your baby for signs of hypothermia like bluish lips, trembling, and goosebumps.
The ideal pool temperature should not be less than 32°C or 89.6°F for babies. Limit your baby’s time in the water to 10 minutes.
Keep him warm with a bath cape or hooded towel when he gets out of the bath.
As parents, you have the discretion when to enroll your child in a swim lesson. But, it does not mean you should force them just because swimming is a skill they need to gear up on.
Children learn differently and are ready at different timelines.
What I am saying is to consider your child’s readiness for the lesson. Swimming should go without forcing or causing emotional distress.
If your baby fears water, take time to condition him to let go of that fear. Commence the swim lesson if you think your child is prepared, willing, and enjoys the time in the pool.