However, studies suggest that infant swimming lessons significantly reduce the risk of drowning in babies aged 4 months to 1 year, while significantly helping with the development of their motor skills. Although some parents choose to take their babies swimming all by themselves, for first-time parents, it may perhaps be better to enrolyour baby for swimming lessons.
If you are contemplating choosing swimming lessons for your baby, be armed with all possible information regarding the process. This is a big step for both, you as a parent, and your child in his interaction with the outside world, so some extra caution wouldn’t hurt.
Here are some useful tips on baby swimming lessons, compiled based on the observations and recommendations of experts in the field. Read on and prep yourself the right way!
Choose the Right Time
There are baby swimming centres that offer courses for infants as young as 4 weeks old though most do not cater to children younger than 6 weeks. Most instructors believe that a 4-month-old baby is quite capable of enjoying and participating in swimming activities. However, you need to realize that every child is unique. If you do not feel comfortable about enrolling your baby for swimming lessons when he is 4 months old, then wait till when you are ready – there is no rush. If you feel you are being paranoid, consult a local baby swimming instructor; that will reassure you and give you the much needed clarity. Also, it is equally important for the parent to be in a healthy state, so if it’s the mother who is going to be in the pool with the baby, she should have recovered from the pregnancy experience completely.
Do your Research
The most important decision in the entire process is choosing where to enrol your child. First and foremost, scout all your options. Look into the programs that various swimming academies are offering and choose one that is most logistically viable – the timings, duration, location. Also, choose a program that is compatible with your child’s temperament; for instance, if he/she is shy and easily upset, lessons in large groups would be ill-advised and private lessons would be a better fit. If, on the other hand, your baby loves the company of large groups of people, group lessons would be a good idea.
Safety Measures of the Swim School
Although as a parent, there are several safety measures you personally have to take, much onus of the baby’s wellbeing also falls on the swimming school. So, make sure that the swimming academy takes appropriate safety measures. You could visit and observe an on-going class beforehand. See if the life guards are helpful and vigilant. Check if the water temperature is as advertised (most pools for young infants maintain a temperature of 32 degrees). You should be convinced, before enrolling, that your child is going to have a safe and risk-free experience.
Have Your Kit Ready
Ensure that you pack your bag with essentials before going for the lessons. Swim nappies, warm milk, snacks, towel and clothing after swimming are some of the basics that you should bring. If the swimming school allows it, bring some of your baby’s bath toys to create a more familiar, and comforting atmosphere.
When in the Water
Now, once the lessons have begun, you would think that now the instructor is in-charge and you must follow his instructions. However, it is more important is to put your child at ease as well. Give your child a sense of security and comfort – maintain eye-contact, hold him/her close to you, gently but firmly and talk to them encouragingly even though they may not understand you. All this tends to instil more confidence in the children, particularly in those who do not take to water immediately. In addition to this, remain within their sight at all times and do not exhibit any form of anxiety or displeasure under any circumstances; this tends to make children nervous and fidgety.
Don’t Push Too Hard
Some parents forget that swimming lessons for infants are not meant to be training prelims. They are simply for the purpose of getting the child accustomed to water bodies and also as precautionary anti-drowning measures. Even as the instructors will attempt to teach the babies how to float on their backs and move along in water on their front-side, that’s all you should expect from them. Do not push your baby’s limits and encourage him to exert himself further or try something more elaborate.
Avoid These Mistakes
There are some things you must not do for the sake of everyone’s wellbeing. First, do not let anymore than the baby’s face and shoulders to be exposed above the water, otherwise the baby may feel cold. Two, do not let him remain in the water if he starts shivering – instead wrap him in a warm towel immediately. Do not take your baby into the pool if he is not in perfect health condition; wait two days after his recovery before going swimming. Do not ignore any signs of skin irritation after a swimming session for that could mean your baby is allergic to chlorine – check first with the instructor and then a physician as soon as signs of skin problem appear. What is advisable is to enrol at a swimmingpool with a salt water system because chemical chlorine is of course not safe for babies, especially those withsensitive skin and asthma.
Observe Your Child
While taking lessons, pay close attention to your baby’s behaviour; how he reacts to the water, how he reacts to guidance, which techniques he responds to better, so on and so forth. Such observations will allow you to ascertain what the general characteristics of his disposition and cognitive inclinations are in general. This may help in later stages of development, when you have to teach the infant other skills like walking, talking, etc. Most parents claim to understand their babies better after taking the infant for swimming lessons.
“YES, I am ready to enrol my baby in swimming class!”
You can look for our website – AOne.sg – where you can search for any kinds of lessons & classes in Singapore!
Dr Darren is the founder of AOne – an online marketplace for local classes and instructors in Malaysia and Singapore. We believe “Anyone can teach, everyone can learn!”.