As parents, we can do so many different things to strengthen our children's sensory motor skills. So why not choose an activity that is enjoyable for both ourselves and our child? Sometimes we need to think about ourselves, even if we've become parents to the world's most beautiful child.
In this activity, you get to float in 34 degrees of hot water. If that sounds appealing, then you should definitely start baby swimming. Read on to find out if it's something you might fancy.
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Strengthen your child's sensory motor skills
Baby swimming is good for your child's sensory motor skills and social interaction. For babies up to one and a half years old, the focus is on the parent and child. But there will also be plenty of opportunity to swim around the pool and greet the other members of the team. As well as there will be the opportunity to be social after the trip in the pool. After swimming, most babies will want to eat, so there will often be an opportunity to sit together with the children so they can see each other while they eat - however, this is only when they can join in at the tables and be given porridge or other solid food.
Swimming is part of gross motor skills, like running, cycling, etc. This means that swimming comes under the stimulation of the sensory motor in children, a point where senses, brain, body and movement work together. Being and moving in water is a very different feeling than being on a floor or similar. Read more about baby motor skills and the three senses.
Baby swimming in teams or alone
You can go to the swimming pool on your own without having registered your child in a swimming team. There is no requirement that you have attended baby swimming. If you're not completely comfortable with the idea of going to the pool with your baby, it might be a good idea to go alone and be able to take it at your own pace. There will always be a lifeguard or two present at the pool who will be able to give you some little tips and tricks for your own little swimming session. Just be aware that the lifeguard won't be able to stay with you for too long at a time. But the lifeguard can tell you about the first dive, for example, and just watch you try it. Whether you then want to continue swimming one-on-one or you then want to try to start a team is up to you.
In a swimming class, the focus will be on different exercises from time to time, such as edge diving, turning in the water, etc. By going to the swimming pool alone you can take this at your own pace and not worry about how many times you have left in the team. This way, you can also feel if the day in question is not good and then wait to go until the next day. The downside of going alone is that you don't get the instructions and exercises that the instructor informs you about. You don't know if there are many others in the hot tub and most people tend to run dead in the same exercises with baby. A team can thus help to develop your skills in the water.
Take your time
Time in the pool should be a calm and safe experience for your little one, so it's important to slow down and go with the flow. When you're in the water, there are no phones ringing, no cleaning, no cooking. It's you and your baby. You need to make good eye contact, enjoy the warm water and otherwise just read each other's body language.
The first time your baby experiences the pool and gets into the water, it can be overwhelming. And depending on how old your baby is, 10 minutes in the water for the first time can be more than enough. Afterwards, babies typically fall asleep because there's been so much to process from different sensations.
But when can you actually start swimming with baby? You can start baby swimming from your baby is about 10 weeks old. As a woman, you must have had your 8-week check-up after giving birth and have been given the go-ahead by your doctor to go swimming. This is because the chlorine water can be full of some bacteria that can give you an infection if you have wounds that still haven't healed. However, if you have any doubts about whether your child is ready to go to the swimming pool, you can always talk to your healthcare professional for the best guidance.
Is it ever too late to start baby swimming? Baby swimming is, as it's called, swimming for babies. Then it depends on the swimming pool and their team division, when they call it baby swimming and when it is just a swimming team. Most call it baby swimming until the child is about 1 ½ - 2 years old, and then call it tumbling. But whether your child is 12 weeks, 2 years or 10 years, it's never too late to start swimming. Swimming is a good skill to know as we are around water a surprising amount. So your child doesn't need to be able to swim a 100 metre crawl, but just have learnt the basics of how to act in water. Learning how to act in case you fall in the water is also a big part of first baby swimming.
Tips for the trip to the swimming pool
- Prepare your baby for water by bathing in a tub at home and learning to get water over their head with water from the shower or from a water jug. Remember that the water from the shower should be on low strength.
- Make time with water a fun time for singing and playing. You can bring this to the pool. For example, you could sing a particular song every time you bathe, then you can sing the same song in the pool to create familiarity and reassurance.
- Always make sure you check the swimming pool's rules on swimwear for babies and small children, as most swimming pools have a requirement for swimwear as long as the child is wearing a nappy. The wrong swimwear can prevent a trip to the pool. If in doubt, contact the swimming pool.
- Bring more than one towel - one for when you're in the pool and one for when baby's bathed after the pool. That way, you'll reduce the chance of your baby getting tangled in a damp or wet towel. You can find inspiration for different baby towels at startpakke.com.
- Make sure that your baby's body is always mostly under water so that your baby doesn't get too chilled.
- Make sure you have good eye contact with your baby and make lots of happy and smiling facial expressions.
- Let your breathing be calm and let yourself glide through the water. Let your baby feel the movement of the water by gliding through it, turning and just moving in it. Your baby should be held away from your body, with their face turned towards your face. This way your baby can read your body language and facial expressions, while getting a good feel for the water around their body. After a dive, however, it can be safe to get close to your skin, as long as you remember to smile and tell your baby in a happy voice how good he or she is.
Enjoy your trip to the swimming pool.