Swimming with Your Baby

Perhaps you have seen the photos of babies that are still too young to walk, or even crawl, nevertheless swimming unaided underwater? This is not trick photography but the true experience of many babies who have been gently taught the joy and freedom of swimming unaided. Imagine what it must feel like for an otherwise completely dependent creature, a baby, to float through the water moving his arms and legs freely as the water supports him. No wonder babies seem to be having such a good time as they swim through the water.

It might be fun, but is it safe? It certainly is. Until a baby is about 18 months old he has an inborn reflex known as the "diving reflex". This reflex closes the windpipe in the presence of water, and prevents choking. In other words, babies naturally hold their breath underwater. After all, they were underwater for about 9 months before they were born so are used to this experience.

Improve Your Baby's Motor Development

Not only is swimming safe for babies, but it is good for them in many great ways. Swimming develops coordination and motor skills; enhances social skills and intelligence; improves the ability to concentrate; stimulates improved alertness and perception; improves nap-time and night-time sleep patterns. Because babies have enhanced muscle control they often learn to walk earlier. Babies with Downs Syndrome and cerebral palsy can also benefit greatly from early swimming.

Swimming is a great way to spend quality time with your baby, especially for Dad. Many other activities for babies seem to be geared to Mom and baby, but with swimming there is no reason for this, and Dads should take advantage of this great way to be with their baby. Until your baby is ready for a bat, ball and glove, or a Frisbee, swimming is the answer to bonding with baby in an exciting, healthy, joyous activity that everyone loves.