Many parents are discovering the art of teaching their baby to swim. Not only is it fun for your baby to swim, bond with you, and play with other babies, it is a great way for you to interact with other parents as well.
It was only discovered in the 1960's that babies were able to swim independently underwater. But since then, it has been learned that it promotes self-confidence and personal development - physical and emotional. It gives your baby a calming, zero-gravity environment to move freely where they otherwise could not on land. This is incredibly beneficial to babies with Downs syndrome and cerebral palsy.
The benefits of baby swimming include; increased motor development, social skills and intelligence, increased concentration, alertness, and perceptual abilities, and improved nap time and night time sleep patterns. Babies who learn how to swim have been known to walk earlier as well, due to their increased muscle control.
It's only natural for a baby to feel comfortable and happy in the warm water. You don't have to worry about your child breathing, because they automatically hold their breath while underwater. This is called the "mammalian dive reflex". After all, they did spend their first 9 months in fluid.
If you have your own pool, it is up to you as a parent to decide when you want your baby to start swimming. There is no age limit. They can even start right after birth. Some classes
however, ask that you wait until they are 3 months. Others recommend you start as early as possible. But keep in mind, the longer you wait, their confidence in the water decreases. Closer to their first year, they can actually develop a fear of water if they are not familiar with it. You should never force your child to learn if they don't want to. This will only result in a stressful situation for your child which could become a problem later on.
Don't expect your baby to start swimming like a pro right away. It takes time and patience. But even though they can't swim on the water's surface until they are about three, they can swim for short distances under the water with the help and encouragement of their parent. Have an underwater camera available to capture that special moment.
Check with your local community swimming pool to see if they have classes available. You and your new baby will love it.
Cassandra Germsheid is the owner of Baby Tips Online (http://www.babytipsonline.com). She is a stay at home mother but sometimes works part time for her local newspaper.