Is there a sense teaching a baby swimming from infancy? There are several reasons for this, the main of which is to strengthen the child’s health. Swimming is useful for people of all ages, in the water the body not only relaxes, but also trains in a more gentle and efficient way.
Of course, the baby does not yet need active physical exertion, but medical water activities help to strengthen the muscles, remove the hypertonus of the muscles and straighten the fingers on the arms and legs. What other benefits can swimming bring to a child?
Swimming Is Useful from All Points of View
Swimming is an amazing sport. Almost all the major muscles of the body are involved, and the load on the spine (and, consequently, the risk of injury) is minimal. Swimming develops the cardiovascular system, increases stamina and has a beneficial effect on breathing: the lungs are straightened and their volume increases. Most of the newborns love water: they have been splashing in their mother’s tummy for nine months. Therefore in the bath they are still more comfortable than on land.
Water is especially useful for premature babies: the body weighs less in the water, and babies quickly catch up with their “land” peers who were born with a normal weight.
Benefits of Baby Swimming
It should be noted that swimming in infancy is explained by congenital reflexes. The baby in the mother’s womb was surrounded by liquid. That’s why in the first months of life children feel comfortable in the water. By three or four months, the reflexes of holding on the water in the children diminish, so even if the little one learns to swim in the first months of life, it is likely that in the more adult age the child will have to be taught again.
Naturally, with regular classes in the bathroom or pool, the baby will not lose the skills, and from the category of reflex they will go to the category of acquired ones. But this is not the essence of baby swimming. Teaching a child to swim and dive is not the main goal.
Swimming brings great benefits to children’s health:
- muscles, joints and ligaments of the baby become stronger and more elastic;
- the child’s body and immunity becomes stronger;
- the baby learns to breathe more “deeply”, which contributes to the development of the respiratory system, and as a result, the child is protected from colds much better;
- baby swimming also has a positive effect on the circulatory system; during swimming in the water, the circulatory system is stimulated, blood gets to organs and tissues better, blood pressure is normalized;
- during diving an infant breath is held, which stimulates neural activity and promotes the formation of new connections in the brain;
- among other things, water gently and without any discomfort washes the nose of the child, removing dust, bacteria and allergens from it.
And one more positive moment is that the child falls asleep well after water procedures and sleeps well, rarely waking up.
Cons of Visiting the Pool for Infants
Of course, any, even the most favorable procedure, has its drawbacks and contraindications. The main disadvantage here is not based on the procedure itself, but on the space where it takes place. That is, the problem is not associated with swimming, but with the pool.
Children’s skin is very delicate and sensitive. Therefore, it is very important to choose a pool with proper water purification. So, when using chlorine for water purification, from the category of “friends” it can go into the category of “enemies” for kids, irritating the skin and causing peeling and allergic reactions. In addition, chlorinated water smells badly, and in sensitive children it can even cause unpleasant sensations in the nose. The child will sneeze and become capricious. In this case, of course, swimming will not bring any benefit.
Baby Swimming: When and How to Begin?
You can start water activities with a baby when the umbilical wound heals, at about 2-3 weeks of age. It may seem too early, but in reality it is not. The baby has not yet lost the breath hold reflex, and does not swallow water. But most importantly, the baby will not be scared, while the water is habitual for him/her. In addition, it contributes to the development of physical and emotional state.
The easiest way is to start swimming in the bathroom. While the child is still very tiny, he/she will have enough space. From about six months, the baby will be able to get his feet to the bottom of the bathroom. At this time it is worth moving swimming lessons with the baby to the pool.
When practicing in the bathroom, observe the following recommendations:
- The water temperature should be no more than 37 °, but not less than 30 °. The first water lessons should be done at a temperature of 36 °, then gradually, after a few days, you can lower the temperature by half a degree and so on until it reaches 30 °;
- Before you start baby swimming, the bath must be thoroughly washed. Do not use products containing a lot of chemistry, it is better to clean it once with usual or baby soap. In addition, once a week you need to wash the bath with an antiseptic;
- When practicing in the bathroom, you do not need to add anything to the water, whether it is herbal infusions or potassium permanganate because the child may swallow water, albeit quite a bit.
Baby Swimming Lessons
Before you start learning the lessons, pay attention to the following:
- It is recommended to start classes in the bathroom or pool 50-60 minutes after a meal, when the baby is not hungry and the food has already been digested;
- The child must be in a good mood. If the baby is naughty, he/she will not want to swim and will only cry;
- It is not very comfortable to support the baby during the exercises from a standing position. You have to stand for a long time, so you should prepare a chair for yourself;
- On the bathroom floor it is advised to lay a rubber mat so as not to slip;
- It is also necessary to prepare in advance a clean towel to wipe the baby after water procedures. It is also convenient to carry the baby in the dressing room. If the house is warm, you can carry your baby naked;
- Before swimming, it is recommended to massage your baby.
Learning to Swim
Now you can learn how to immerse the baby in the water and how to do the actual swimming. First, you should introduce the child to the bathroom: let the baby touch the water. Further, lower the baby’s feet into the water and slowly, strictly vertically, immerse further, while confidently and gently talking to him/her.
There are two types of support for the baby: under the chin (the child is lying belly down, the mother holds the chin) and under the head (the child is on the back, the mother holds him/her under the head and, if necessary, lifts the baby’s ass with the other hand). It is worth trying both supports to find out which one is better for your baby.
Therapeutic baby swimming involves not just lying on the water, but the movement in the bath or pool. Independently, you can “ride” the child in the bathroom. Supporting the head, lead the baby from one end of the bathroom to the other. When the baby reaches the side, you need to wait a little, so that the child reflexively pushes off.
During the swimming lesson it is worth talking to the child all the time, voicing every movement: “we are swimming”, “we are pushing”, etc. Over time, the child will learn to swim without support, will actively move his/her legs and arms, and get real pleasure from splashing. However, before you let the baby swim independently, you need to teach the baby to dive.
Accessories for Baby Swimming
If the child does not stay on the water without support, you can use a special cap or swimming circle. The cap is a cap with pockets, containing foam plastic. You can buy it in a store or make it yourself.
It’s hardly possible to make a circle with your own hands, but it’s not a problem to buy it. Make sure that the circle is comfortable for your kid. Also, pay attention to the fact that for lessons in the pool, the child will need special panties.
In general, when attending classes in the pool, not only panties will be needed. It will be necessary to obtain a certificate from the pediatrician that the child can swim. If the mother plans to teach the baby herself, she will also need medical certificate from the doctors: from the gynecologist and the therapist. Find out about all the necessary certificates and accessories that will be needed in the pool in the institution itself.
Teach your baby to swim from the first weeks of life, and he/she will grow up healthy, strong and well-developed!