Babies are born with natural swimming abilities, but they are limited. You can help him develop a love for the water and gain confidence in the comfort of your own home. Babies learn and improve their swimming skills and techniques during bath time. Bath time is an essential stage for developing swimming abilities!
1. Safety First: Prepare the bathroom temperature to a minimum of 80 degrees, and set the water temperature between 95 to 98 degrees. When your baby is in or around water, make sure everything is secure. Remove any hazardous materials from the water and turn off any distractions. DO NOT leave a child or baby unattended at any time during bath time. There are nearly 500 deaths each year due to unattended children drowning in the bathrub.
2. Educate Yourself: Do your research. As parents, this is an essential step. Visit different blogs, go to your local library, ask your doctor questions, find swimming lessons in your local town and learn the steps you can take as a parent to help better develop your baby. WebMD Baby is a great beginning source http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/default.htm
3. Put It Into Practice: Babies are born with two major reflexes; all of which, if properly incorporated into your daily bath time routine will help your baby become a good swimmer. Having these reflexes does not make your baby a swimmer; ensure you are holding your baby so he/she is protected from harm. These reflexes are the following:
- The dive reflex...This reflex, also called the bradycardic response, causes babies to hold their breath and open their eyes when submerged. Parents can get the same reaction by blowing into the babies face.
- The swimming reflex...Until around 6 months, babies placed in water tummy-side down will move their arms and legs in a swimming motion. You can help your baby get acquainted with this skill by setting him in the bath tub water tummy-side down. NOTE: Make sure the water is at the correct depth. It is also extremely important to not leave the baby unattended, not even to answer a call. Your baby's life is more important.
- Other skills such as conditioning, floating on the front, and floating on the back can be taught in the bathtub. However, this is NOT recommended without further training.
Make sure to ease into these techniques. If your baby is not comfortable while performing these steps, stop and continue the next day during bath time. Never force a baby to learn these techniques as it will create a fear for water. Everything comes with time, and by easing it in, your baby will gain the confidence he/she needs.
4. Start and End Bath Time the Same Way: Babies love routine. It helps balance their life and in fact, they need it. Establishing a routine is a way parents can make their babies learn, develop, and grow.
5. Make Bath Time Enjoyable and Fun: Use songs and games to make bath time stimulating. Finding fun ways to teach your baby new skills and techniques in anything in life will make education much more enjoyable. Remember, have fun bonding with your baby.