So you’re ready to start swimming with your baby and you probably have many questions. While some might’ve been addressed in this article, there are still other things to consider, like the physical aspect. How do you hold your baby? Which position should your baby be in? Even if you’re starting lessons with an instructor you should get into the water and swim with your baby. You’ll learn a lot about the process!
This is a new experience for your baby, you want to ensure your baby is calm while establishing trust. Eye contact is the best way to do this! A recent study conducted research on the effects of eye contact on the brain of infants. Using a skull cap with sensitive electronic nodes, the researchers were able to observe the infant’s brain waves. When the infant made eye contact with their mother, their brain waves synced up. During eye contact, the infant made more of an effort to communicate and vocalize. Therefore, eye contact strengthens communication and learning skills. This is also a major reason why swimming with your baby is a bonding experience that will teach your baby to understand communication – engaging both listening and talking skills.
Similarly to eye contact, skin to skin contact is a crucial component to neonatal health and development. It’s also an important factor in keeping them calm, comfortable, and secure. Skin to skin builds trust and confidence. Research shows a gentle and nurturing skin-to-skin embrace offers several benefits to a baby, especially when this contact is made by the mother. The positive effects go both ways too, providing caregivers with positive physiological and psychological effects from physical contact with their newborn. Strengthening this bond reinforces the baby’s belief that mom and dad will be there for them. Love and skin to skin contact have been proven to increase a child’s social skills.
One of the first positions to get your baby into is the back float. This is usually the most comfortable position for a baby starting out in the water. However, if your baby really doesn’t like this position just hold them upright (arms outstretched in front of you with hands under the armpits and baby facing you, keep face 8-15 inches away so they can see you) until you can build up enough water confidence to try again. The back float is a relaxing position that introduces your baby to buoyancy outside of the womb.
If you’ve practiced the back float with a baby in the bathtub prior to getting into a pool then this should be easy and comfortable for baby. To start, keep your baby on their back, so the pool will feel like a similar environment. Make sure your baby’s head is supported by your arm, and cradle their back and bum with your hands. It’s important that your baby feels safe, so cradle their body close to you, so they can see you. Chat with your baby all the time to reassure them.
Positive reinforcement, enthusiasm, songs and games all contribute to the overall swimming experience. You want your baby to have a good time and positive associations with the water. Nursery rhymes are a great way to calm your baby down, soothing them with your voice. Music also plays a role in child development and facilitates learning. Having colorful toys to play with will make their time in the water more enjoyable and help you teach!