One of my favorite summer activities as a child was swimming at the pool. There are pictures of me as a baby playing with my dad at my grandparent’s house and just about every birthday party since I was two was a pool party. What seems interesting to me now as an adult is that I don’t remember learning how to swim and I don’t remember my parents seeming worried about me splish-splashing as a tiny tot. What tricks did my parents have up their sleeves that helped me feel confident in the water at such an early age? To me it seems like I was swimming before my 1st birthday – but when is it really the right time to start teaching your little one how to swim?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are not developmentally ready to swim until they are four years old. However, many expert swim instructors agree that this is referring to a child’s ability to do formal swim strokes – butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke – and introducing your baby to the water at a much younger age is a good idea to ensure his or her lifelong swimming confidence.
“We have observed that the optimal age to start babies is between six months and 12 months old. At this stage the majority of infants are ripe in the water. They are comfortable, the water feels natural. These very young babies still seem to have a memory of the fluid environment in the womb,” states BabySwimming.com.
“However, a window of opportunity for smooth learning still exits up to approximately 18 months old (especially for water adjustment and initial submersions). At approximately 19 months to 24 months toddlers can begin to enter the “challenging twos” phase. It is easier to teach water adjustment and breath control this stage begins.”
So you may want to start encouraging your little one to move around in the water in the bath at home for the first 6-12 months, and then consider checking out some local swim lessons targeted toward youngsters when you feel the time is right. There are lots of great classes at organizations like the YMCA. Just remember, a lot of short practices often yield the best results. So our advice? Start when ready, but early, and stick to 30 minute lessons a couple times a week.
What other advice do you have? Any great lessons from your experiences? We’d love to hear! In the meantime, enjoy the warm summer days and stay in touch friends! xo, Brittany and the New Little Wonders team.