Can My Baby go to Swimming Lessons?
Depending on where you live and what resources you have available to you, YES. Most of the time, you will find that formal swimming lessons (a parent/baby class) won’t be an option until your baby is six months or older. However, chances are if you live in a location with abundant resources, you may be lucky enough to find a baby swim class for babes younger than six months.
If group or private swim lessons aren’t your jam, babies can definitely enjoy swimming with you regardless! There are several methods to begin teaching them that will help them feel more comfortable in the water and to help them learn about safety and basic skills.
When you first get into the pool with your baby, hold her close to you and start gently bobbing up and down. Not so much that she’s being dunked, just to get her used to the movement and flow of the water. This movement helps to get babies comfortable with the water temperature, with you, and with the situation all together.
A good next step is to get her used to her face getting wet. So turn those initial bobs into slower dunks up to her mouth and let her practice getting her face a little wet!
Hold her out at arms’ length facing you, and slowly tilt her side to side. These titls will gradually become deeper and deeper until her cheeks and ears start to get a little wet too.
A fun way to practice bubble blowing is through song. Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” using the actions: clap your hands, kick your feet, and blow some bubbles. Then show them how to blow bubbles in the pool by sticking your mouth underwater and blowing! This is especially fun (and extra sanitary) in a group with lots of babies and toddlers.
Getting hair wet
A small bucket of water, a shower-type stream, or laying her back are all good options for getting your little one’s hair/head wet.
Start with her very close to you--with the back of her head resting on the top of your shoulder right up next to your cheek and her body floating out in front of you. Over time, you’ll want to slowly work on 2 things: 1. Getting her head lowered into the water little by little and 2. getting her farther away from your body. Eventually, you’ll be able to just hold her head in your hands while she floats on her back in front of you.
Don’t forget to work on her kicks! You may have to manipulate her legs for her at first, but soon enough she’ll get the hang of it. Front kicks, back kicks, any type of kicks!
Once she’s used to various parts of her face getting wet, it’s time to dunk her. Hold her to the side of you by her torso with her chest and belly in the water. Move her in a forward motion around your body or walk while she flies by your side. It’s fun to practice swirling back and forth, sometimes chasing a ball or a toy!
When she’s comfortable with those motions, during one of the side sweeps, you’ll count to three and (very briefly) lower her down so her face is underwater while she’s moving forward. Most babies don’t like this. But like most things, practice makes perfect. The more she is exposed to being dunked in the water, the sooner she’ll figure out the whole “holding your breath” part of it. Take lots of breaks and don’t force her to do something she’s not comfortable with. You don’t want to completely traumatize her!
Set her up on the ledge and let her jump in! Most babies and toddlers will simply lean forward and will love the thrill of it, but some may be extra adventurous and stand up and lean, or even jump in! Every once in a while, let her go completely under while catching her to help her practice facial immersion more!