Q&A With Dr Aliya: The Ins & Outs Of Swimming With Baby

Summer is the perfect time for a swim. Here’s what you need to know about swimming with your baby

Q.  I’m interested in going to a mommy-and-baby swim class with my baby girl.  How old should my baby be before we take her swimming?

A. The summer weather is perfect for a dip in the pool with your baby! Although a specific swimming age appropriate guideline doesn’t formally exist, most pediatricians and health practitioners advise parents to wait until their baby is about 5 or 6 months old before enrolling in swim classes. By this age your baby should have pretty good head and torso control. Plus, at that age your baby will be able to splash, kick and enjoy the water.

After spending nine months suspended in fluid in the womb, it’s not surprising that most babies have a natural affinity for water.  Babies have primitive reflexes that actually help them in the water. Specifically, the laryngeal reflex (or gag reflex) allows them to hold their breath and avoid inhaling water in response to the sensation of water on their face, nose or throat. 

In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that younger children may benefit greatly from swimming classes. 

New data shows that early swim training may actually lower drowning rates in children under the age of 4.  Swimming also helps to develop a child’s confidence, as well as improve motor skills and co-ordination. 

Here are a few tips to turn your tot into a water baby:

- Visit pools that have warmer water temps for baby’s comfort

- Use bath time as an opportunity to get your baby used to the water.  Sing a song, use a cloth or sponge to dribble some water over baby’s face, splash, and blow bubbles.

- Take your time and be patient.  Give her plenty of time to get acclimated to the water.

- Start with slow, gentle motions like bouncing up and down together or swaying from side to side.  Once she’s more comfortable with her surroundings, explain and demonstrate some fun, basic skills like blowing bubbles or splashing.

- Hold off on introducing floats or other floatation devices until baby is at least three or four years old

- Enjoy yourself.  If you are relaxed, smiling and having fun, your baby is more likely to be at ease!

Do you have a question for Dr. Aliya? Send an email to editor@babypost.com with Dr. Aliya in the subject line and check back every Thursday to see what Dr. Aliya is writing about each week!

A health practitioner, chiropractor and acupuncturist with a distinct integrative care approach, Aliya brings extensive experience in pre-natal and pediatric wellness to her clinical practice at Restore Integrative Health  in Toronto. She is also a runner, yoga instructor and new mother.

Visit her website at draliyavisram.com or follow her on Twitter @DrAliyaVisram or on Instagram @DrAliyaVisramDC

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