Have you ever seen one of those horrifying yet intriguing videos online where they throw a newborn baby into the water? Supposedly, babies can swim instinctively, or at least float in a way that allows them to survive until someone helps them. I definitely do not recommend you ever try this with your own baby. Though I’m curious whether or not all babies are actually born with this ability, I believe it’s much safer to test the hypothesis in a swimming class with a professional instructor. Swimming classes are actually great for toddlers and newborns.

Swimming lessons will give your baby the chance to learn how to swim through play. You can start introducing baby to the water as early as four weeks, but most baby swimming lessons start at age six weeks. Keep in mind that you should wait six weeks as a new mom if you’ve had any stitches from a C-section or tear because you could pick up an infection.

Once your baby is ready to hit the pool for the first time, make sure the temperature is warm. Most regular public pools are too cold for babies, but there are often small kiddie pools that are warmer and safer for your baby’s comfort and safety. One recent study shows that children who were exposed to swimming lessons as babies had more developed motor abilities than those who were not. This could be especially important for babies who have disabilities that predispose them to suffer from motor impairments.

As soon as your baby turns four weeks old, you should start thinking about swimming lessons. There are countless benefits and zero drawbacks. Making sure your child is a strong swimmer will help you rest easy when he or she is on their own with school or friends near bodies of water. Also, if there was an emergency when your child fell into a pool or lake without supervision, he or she would be able to swim to safety or at least tread until someone helped.

Additionally, a baby swimming class is a great way for you to meet new moms and dads in your area. You might be able to form a playgroup for weekends even after the lessons or over, or you can find people to share stories with to learn tips and tricks. Really, there’s no reason not to enroll your baby into a swimming class.

Source: H Sigmundsson et al: Baby Swimming: Exploring the Effects of Early Intervention of Subsequent Motor Abilities. Child: Care Health and Development Volume 36 Issue 3 pp. 428-430 May 2010

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