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Swimming With Your Baby: The Experience and the Connection

By Anne Clarke

Baby swimming classes are available almost everywhere, and the younger a child is when he or she is taught to swim the easier it will be for them to learn successfully. Why? Well, as you know, when in the womb a baby develops, begins to move and is eventually swimming in the amniotic fluid. So for about nine months the kid has already been a swimmer. (And from what I hear, they get pretty good at kicking during the nine months they are in there.)

swimming-with-your-baby.jpgTherefore, your baby should have little to no trouble adjusting to being in the water, he or she may even find it fun from minute one. They really are usually great at kicking, so that is where the instructors most often begin. You will be right there with your baby, and they will use a “marshmallow” or some sort of small floating device to keep the baby’s head above the water.

The baby, typically floating with the marshmallow or other floating device around their belly, will begin by kicking their legs underwater. There will be times where no floating devices are used. And the mothers simply hold their babies in the water. Often holding them horizontally by the stomach halfway above the water and halfway below. This helps them begin to understand better how to move around in the water, keep control and keep from sinking.

The biggest challenge in teaching a child to swim is that a baby has an automatic choke reflex that occurs when their heads are below water—usually, especially the first few times, the baby will try to inhale underwater and therefore start to choke. This is a nine-month habit that must be broken.

Obviously, the child must not only relearn swimming, but also unlearn what he or she had become so accustom to in the womb: oxygenating the lungs by breathing in the amniotic fluid. The must figure out that they cannot breathe this water in. That now their lungs are not meant to take in oxygen in the form of fluid—but rather only through the air.

The class will practice holding the children underwater—especially once they are more than six and ten months old, and try to signal to or show the babies how to hold their breath.

This works a lot of the time. Babies commonly learn very fast. However, if the child does not want to be submerged, or is obviously having trouble catching on, the rule is not to force them. Try again in a month or two until the baby is ready to hold his or her breath underwater and can then learn to take breaths from the surface, before submerging and holding their breath again.

Either way, the splashing, and laughing, and watery fun is worth it for the role swimming together can play in the personal connection between a baby and the parent or guardian participating with them in the class.

About The Author
Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles on child care please visit
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