08 Nov Swimming from Birth
I have 3 weeks to go until a new baby arrives in our house (well 5 weeks if the other two are anything to go by!!) and I’m very excited about the prospect of getting them in the pool asap! I’ve said before that it’s taken years to get my eldest confident in the pool, I’ve always felt that I didn’t keep up the consistency of swimming from a young age and he needed it. I do often debate with myself and teachers whether nature/nurture plays a huge part in this and certainly my children both had similar experiences in the water but have behaved completely differently. As you can see from the photos the outcome is still the same.
Harry (5 and ¾) spent his summer holiday swimming in the sea, quite confident at 10 metres deep with a lilo and his dad to keep him safe! And Sophie (3 last week) has been a natural from day one, of that I’m certain, she’s just moved into preschool classes and is delighted with herself that she can finally be let go on her own. Time will tell what baby number three will do but one thing is for certain they will be in the pool from the start!
There are so many reasons why it’s so fantastic to get them in the pool from a young age. When babies are born they have primitive reflexes that are essential for babies survival in the first few weeks of life, some of these you will have noticed that the doctors look for when they are checking over a newborn – a prominent example is when you watch the paediatrician drop your baby backwards to check their startle reflex! These reflexes do not involve thinking as they are natural but they have a life span and disappear over time. Our teachers know all about these reflexes and use them during swimming classes helping parents and babies to understand more about the physical changes that they go through during the first 6 months. We know which help support swimming including the amphibian reflex which is why such tiny babies look like they are swimming! And we know which can hinder it – most parents know about the classic righting reflex…..that’s when your baby suddenly will not stay flat and floating on their back anymore, a problem which can exist for years after depending on how determined the child is to not go on their back.
All this is not to say that it’s ever too late, gone are the days when the way we learnt to swim was being “thrown in the deep end”…..as my dad likes to remind me that’s how he taught me. There are lots of options to get started, and as I always tell customers the best way to start is without doubt with their parents and having fun, teaching children that swimming and the water is not something to be afraid of but is something to be enjoyed and this will ensure they have a positive experience from the beginning. Depending on their age you can try different things but just grab a few toys and get in the water as soon as you can……I promise it will be fun and it’s imperative to their safety in the long run!