There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when you’re thinking about starting baby swim lessons. Of course, the best place to start is by thinking through what your ultimate goals are. Do you hope to help your infant grow into a water-confident child? Do you want to increase your baby’s safety around the pool? Are you looking for a fun way to bond with your son or daughter?
Whichever goal you have for baby swim lessons, the most widely accepted rule of thumb is that earlier exposure to water is better. The sooner your little one gets used to the feeling of buoyancy, splashing, and all-around enjoyment in the water, the more likely it is they will look forward to swim lessons, master new skills successfully, and practice safe, competent habits around water. But every child is different, so there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all answer to the, “When is my baby ready for swimming?” question. To help you find your best answer, keep reading.
Consider Developmental Readiness
When you think about starting your baby swimming, it’s important to evaluate their developmental readiness, rather than comparing your child to the children of your close friends. For example, a friend’s baby might have been swimming at six months of age and you might wonder why your own child isn’t doing the same. But your little one could be more cognitively advanced than what is average for their age, but maybe slightly lagging in motor skills. Comparing to others isn’t going to serve you or your children well; instead, focus on your baby’s strengths and how you can support them.
Also, consider what developmental readiness indicators are necessary for baby swim lessons. If it’s a newborn class, it should be perfectly suitable for the vast majority of newborns. If it’s a three-year-old class without the parent in the water, then your child may not be a great fit if they’ve never been in a swim class and are behind in physical developmental milestones. Another important piece of developmental readiness is the baby’s emotional development. It’s normal for babies to cry or fuss when they’re exposed to new environments, but if your infant seems truly emotionally distressed (in or out of the water), you’ll want to wait to introduce them to something new like swimming lessons until their emotions are more stable.
Determining the Duo
If your baby’s developmental readiness seems in line with what’s expected in the class you’re considering joining, the next aspect to think through is who will take class with your baby. Oftentimes, moms are the natural choice and the ones who want to be in the water, bonding with their little ones. But sometimes, a mom may not be ready (whether physically or emotionally) to jump into class. And other times, it just may make more sense based on a family’s unique work and childcare situation for a dad or alternate caregiver to attend the “parent-and-baby” classes. Whoever your family decides to send is great; just make sure it’s one of your little one’s primary caregivers and someone who can be there consistently for most, if not all, classes. This will ensure more comfort and progress throughout the duration of the swimming program.
So, the long and short of it is that earlier exposure to water is usually best, even beginning at the newborn stage. But it’s important to consider your unique child’s developmental readiness before deciding to begin classes. If all markers of readiness seem to check out, you and your baby (or whichever caregiver you’ve decided on) can get ready to start splashing, learning, growing and bonding together. Contact us if you have any questions about your little one’s readiness, or to learn more about our approach to swimming for kids.