I don’t like to use the term “Baby swimming” for what we do, as the Birthlight method is far more than that. Swimming with your young baby in formal swimming classes has become an increasingly popular activity for parents in recent years. The term “baby swimming” though narrows down what babys can actually achieve in the water.
The reason for beginning early is not to get a head start on training to get an Olympic gold medal! However, from a purely learning to swim point-of-view children who start in the water earlier become increasingly familiar with the water environment. It becomes their second home when not on the land.
Even for babies who may have a shaky start in their swim class they will soon learn to understand water, experience how it behaves and how to move in it. They will become water confident long before starting school. This will give your child a great start when they begin to take more traditional swimming lessons as they get older.
As a teacher I’ve seen children begin swimming lessons at all ages and those who have swum from a young age are ready to get stuck into classes and begin learning proper strokes and skills right away where-as those who may not have had that start will be spending the first few weeks and months of swimming classes just getting into the water and getting their head wet.
Coming to baby swimming classes is not just to learn how to swim however. Often basic safety elements are taught that apply to both parents and children. How should a child safely enter the water? Can they find safety if they fall in accidentally? Can they roll on their back and float? How is it best to deal with a young child in the changing room or around the pool?
With babies in their first year of life a lot of the aquatic exercises are built around enhancing the physical development of the baby. By using the water as an aid babies can move in ways they can’t do on land. This can help to strengthen muscles and stimulate different parts of the brain involved with balance and limb co-ordination.
Underlying all this, I feel, is the most important thing; having fun and bonding with your baby. Even parents who a very strong swimmers are often at a loss as how to swim with their child or to even know what to do with them! A qualified baby swimming teacher can give you a great start to introducing exercises to your child.
Why have a three-year old who is terrified of water and won’t let go of their arm bands when you can have a child who can swim underwater, pick up toys, jump and dive into the pool and swim on their own?