There are numerous benefits behind infant swim lessons. Not only do they help prevent accidental drownings, but they also help children grow comfortable in the water rather than grow to fear it. Another great thing about infant lessons is that they can practice many of the skills they learn during bath time! Here are four things your baby can practice the next time you give them a bath.
1. Getting their face wet
There are a lot of babies uncomfortable with submerging their face underwater— some don’t even like their faces getting wet. So it’s important to familiarize them with this feeling and to grow comfortable with it. During bath time, you can start with wetting different parts of their face and reinforcing it with praise. Try to make it seem fun!
2. Feeling relaxed in the water
It’s not just a baby’s face that needs to be comfortable being in the water— it’s their whole body! If they’re comfortable in the water, learning will become a lot easier for them. So if you have a bathtub or baby tub, allow them to have supervised play time while taking a bath. Use bright toys, bubbles, or sponges to focus on and have fun with. In addition to helping them relax in the water, they can further develop their motor and cognitive skills through water sensory play!
3. Practice holding their breath
If they’ve grown comfortable getting their body and face wet, you can practice reinforcing breath-holding. They don’t need to be fully submerged— a small amount of water poured over their face is enough to practice this skill.
First, read a small, bright cup of water to better get their attention. Once they’re focused on you, say their name followed by a cue such as “Ready, go!” and gently pour the water over your child’s head. Make sure to use the same cue before each pour. This will condition them to understand the cue as a signal to hold their breath. You can start with little amounts of water and slowly build up to a full cup. Don’t forget to praise and reinforce them after each breath held!
4. Floating (for bathtubs)
Another important skill for infants to learn is unassisted floating. Once your child is comfortable holding their breath, you can help them practice floating in the bathtub. You can do this by laying them on their back (while still supporting them), and checking to see if they stay relaxed in this position. If they're relaxed, you can slowly let go of your support. Make sure to feel for yourself if you child is ready. If you feel that your baby isn’t floating after a slight release, return your support and try again next time!
All of these skills are important for water safety, and it’s good to practice them at home. However, make sure to only practice these drills with your little one if they are regularly taking infant lessons with a swim school!