While nothing can match snuggling a sleepy newborn, the excitement of a new parent doesn’t wane as baby grows. A whole new world opens up when baby learns to sit, play with toys, and move independently.
Saying farewell to the newborn stage also brings a world of opportunity for baby outside your home. One activity available for young babies is swimming lessons. Yet, you may be wondering if baby is really ready to learn to swim.
So, do you jump right in and sign baby up for lessons? Or do you wait until baby is an independent toddler or even preschooler?
If you want to be sure that swimming lessons are right for your baby, check out these tips for what to expect as you venture into your child’s first aquatic activity.
When Is Baby Ready for Swimming Lessons?
Infant Swim Lessons Are Not...
Intended to Teach Baby to Swim Independently
Instead of focusing on true swimming, these lessons are geared towards getting baby comfortable in the water. While baby will learn some basic swimming skills during lessons, the real goal is to increase baby’s love for water.
Designed to Provide Babysitting
If you’re hoping to pull out a novel during baby’s swimming lessons, you’ll need to think again. Dig out your own swimsuit because infant swimming lessons are a family affair. Parents participate fully during lessons and instruction is aimed at teaching parents swim basics and water safety.
Related: When can babies go swimming?
Protection for Infants from Drowning
While infant swim lessons are fantastic for helping children become comfortable with water, the American Academy of Pediatrics clearly states that conventional infant swim classes don’t protect young children (under age 4) from drowning. Throughout the infant and toddler years parents need to be present and active, within an arm’s length, at all times to prevent drowning.
For the Littlest Babies
Most infant swim lessons require babies to be at least six months of age, as they’re able to hold their heads up, tolerate water that is cooler, and are not as bothered by the loud noises of a swimming pool.
Infant Swim Lessons Are…
An Opportunity to Learn about Water Safety
Infant swim lessons are a great time to brush up on water safety. As your child grows, swim lessons will provide a framework to teach him (and you) how to safely enter and exit the pool as well as how to be safe while around a pool.
About Helping Baby Be Comfortable in the Water
You’ll be spending a lot of time cuddling baby in the first days of swimming class. Be prepared to focus on baby and work to make swimming fun.
About Learning Pre-Swimming Skills
As your baby becomes comfortable in the water, he’ll begin to learn pre-swimming skills such as how to float (assisted) on his back and belly, to blow bubbles in the water, and to kick and make basic arm movements.
About Finding a Class that Fits Your Needs
Before you enroll in swimming lessons you’ll want to make sure to check out various classes. Talk to other parents and visit classes to learn about water temperature and class size. You’ll want a location that offers warm water for baby and small class sizes, giving you maximum opportunity to interact with the instructors.
Related: Summer Pool Safety
With the right expectations, infant swim lessons can be a valuable time for baby to gain confidence with the water and parents to brush up on swimming safety. While lesson’s won’t result in an independent swimmer (yet) they’re a fantastic foundation for future swimming skills.