Your baby can successfully learn to swim before his first birthday. Some infants even develop the skill of holding their breath for up to 20 seconds underwater. Unfortunately, the ability to swim as an infant is not the same as an older child. The infant will only be able to cover short distances and should always be closely monitored. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a child can not learn formal swimming until they are four years old. Because of the lack of sophisticated swim motions and the inability to hold their breath for a significant amount of time, parents of infants who have learned to swim early should never become complacent. Drowning remains a very big threat even for young infants that have learned to swim for short distances.
Not all infants are unafraid of the water. Your baby may be cautious at first or exhibit real fear when exposed to the water. If you keep a positive and proactive outlook, your infant will pick up on the good vibes you put out. Your emotions will relax your baby and help him adjust to the feel of the water. No infant should ever be submerged until he feels comfortable and at ease. Submerging a baby too early can make him develop a phobia of the water that will be difficult to overcome. Most parents will dribble water on their baby's face so they get used to the wet feel. Over time, the baby won't even notice the water on his face.
Infant swim instructors at Baby Swimming, The Gentle Journey recommend that you get your baby started in the water between six and 12 months of age. At such a young age, the infant usually still retains a memory of the fluid feeling of the womb. Such pleasant memories are believed to come alive when the infant is placed in the water. Even if you are late getting your baby into the water, swim instructors state that the baby usually remains responsive to the experience up to 18 months of age. By the time the baby reaches two years old, it becomes a bigger challenge to teach early swimming.
The real trick to teaching an infant to swim is to join a supportive class that teaches gentle water practices. You want your baby's water experiences to be happy and not frightening. No baby should be forced to do anything he or she does not want to do.
Even if your baby's swim lessons are going wonderfully, never leave your baby near a pool or body of water where he could accidentally fall in. Drowning remains a very real threat no matter how skilled your baby appears in the water.
Most infant swim programs will focus on several key components:
Turning over in the water
Remember that any swim class should be fun for both of you. Never force your baby to do something he doesn't want to do. Positive experiences in the water will help your baby build a lifelong love of the water.