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March 8, 2009

Get In the Swim with your Baby


© iStockphoto.com/DIGIcal
I swum competitively for most of my childhood and teaching swimming was one of my first jobs, so, when I had a baby I was really excited to do swimming lessons together.

Where I live, you can start lessons between 4 and 6 months and it is a great one-on-one time with your baby (parents and babies participate in the lesson together). For your baby, swimming provides exercise and a relaxing sensory experience. And it will make your baby tired and ready for a big nap afterward!

Giving your baby swimming lessons will not necessarily mean that your baby will be able to swim without support (this depends on how often they go swimming and on their personality- and you will need to supervise them for many years to come), but it will mean that your child is happy and relaxed in the water. This makes it so much easier to teach your child to swim later. Young babies are happy to be in the water, as a child gets older they develop more negative associations about water and swimming.

Lessons will teach your baby to hold their breath under water, float on their front and back and condition them to jump in, turn around and come to the edge (an important safety skill). And swimming lessons are one of the most fun activities I did with my son as a baby.

There are also some water familiarisation activities that you can do with your baby at home from birth - teaching them breath control by cueing and floating them on their back so they can feel the water on their ears.

If you want to know more about water familiarisation and baby swimming, I recommend Teaching Your Baby to Swim, by Laurie Lawrence.

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