Babies under 6 months can swim!
Babies are born with an affinity to a warm watery environment. They were surrounded by amniotic fluid for 9 months in the womb so this environment is natural to them. The earlier you can return your baby to a warm watery environment the more comfortable they will be. It is very unusual to find a baby under the age of 6 months that does not like warm water and the feeling of floating.
Babies are also born with many reflexes that allow them to swim without being taught. Unfortunately many of these reflexes will disappear very early in life, which is why it is important to start early so that they are available to use.
Did you know?
Infants can hold their breath. When you tip your baby forward so their head is lower than their hips (dive position) they will hold their breath. This is called the dive reflex and can be used for submerging infants (please do not attempt without a qualified instructor) The dive reflex will diminish around the age of 4 months.
Infants can move in the water. When you place your baby on their tummy in the water they have a reflex called the amphibian reflex, this reflex will make their legs and sometimes their arms move. We can use the reflex to promote co-ordination, muscle development and to get the babies to kick on cue. The amphibian reflex will diminish around the age of 4 months
Babies can grip and hold on. Babies are born with a reflex called the palmer grasp reflex. When you press in the palm of your babies hand they will grip on very tightly. We can use this reflex to promote a strong grip for swimming, grabbing and holding on which are all life saving skills. The palmer grasp reflex will diminish around the age of 3 months
Infants can walk. Babies are born with a stepping reflex. We can use this reflex to promote muscle development, movement and co-ordination. The stepping reflex will diminish around the age of 5 months
Babies around the age of 6 months will find back floating tough. As soon as your baby starts to move around and or sit up on land a righting reflex will come into play. This reflex means that when you lay them on their back their brain will send messages to their body to try and right itself. This reflex will affect your babies ability and want to back float. Having your baby start their swimming under the age of 6 months will mean they will be more comfortable with back floating.
The submerging reflex will disappear around the age of 3 years. Your baby has a reflex that we can use for submerging by adding a cue. When your baby closes their eyes their throat will close as well. A baby that has been conditioned to close their eyes on cue can submerge and not take in any water. This reflex will diminish around the age of 3 years. Having your child start after the age of three they will need to be taught breath control, by starting under the age of 3 years we can use this reflex instead of having to teach them to hold their breath. (for how to submerge your baby correctly please see article on our website)
Many parents ask when is the best age to start my baby swimming. The answer is as early as possible. Ensure you have all of the reflexes available to your baby to promote early physical, mental and swimming development.
The earlier you start your babies swimming journey the earlier they will learn to swim and be safer in and around water. A baby that starts lessons under the age of 6 months and attends consistantly can usually swim around the age of 18 months or sometimes even earlier. The benifits of an early introduction into an aquatic environment do not stop at just water safety, studies have shown that there are many physical and mental developmental advantages as well. This research can be viewed as part of the Giffith study