Infant swimming lessons

Miss Jean infant/swimming lessons classes are for ages 3 months to 2 years…

What is water adjustment? As we know, babies come from water (so to speak), and then later adjust to air and gravity. The sooner infants have an opportunity to adjust back to weightlessness floating in water, the better.  Parents should wear a rash guard or T-shirt for your child to hold onto. During the lesson, you and your child will be working on back floats,  rolling over, (with older children), crab walking (holding the wall),  going in face first (self submersion), and breath control.

This age group is working on water adjustment and having fun in the water. The class is 20 minutes,  because I have learned that this is the limit for most babies. For older children, there may be an additional longer 10 minute window. In class, we are singing songs (with a swimming twist) that children are already familiar with. These songs include: “If you happy and you know it, Splash your Hands, ” “Motorboat, Motorboat,” “The Wheels on the Bus,”,”Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean”( back float), “Fishes in the Ocean,”(jumping song), “Humpty Dumpty,” (jumping song), “Clean up, Clean up,” ( end of class song.) The more time in the water, the better for your child. Playing in the pool with a parent is usually a child’s favorite thing to do and provides a cherished memory.  Playing in the water with your child as often as you can, while having a once-a-week formal lesson, will strengthen your child’s swimming skills. I know you already know this, but because I believe so strongly in it, I have to remind us all, that having fun by learning and playing is the key.

While there may be crying in infant swimming lessons, the goal is to teach children about their environment.

little swimmr with his face in the water smiling

As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children through childproofing. From putting a gate around the pool, to locking the toilet seat, to making sure all buckets are empty and stored way, we do all we can to protect children around water.  However, every year, children find ways to get to water anyway. Before birth, infants are surrounded by water.  Children’s first sights and sounds are filtered through water.  Knowing this, I consider swim lessons to be a child’s reintroduction to water. When this in mind, the longer you wait, the more they may forget. “Let your fish out, ” I tell my students. However, younger infants are not going swim in a “traditional” sense as they don’t have the strength to swim face down for longer than a stroke or two. They are more like tadpoles who learn to roll over.

To help build strength during infant swimming lessons, we do a lot of crab walking and climbing out of the pool.

When you see a new swimmer’s stroke, it typically is a modified crawl (baby style). It can look like climbing a ladder. That keeps the weight under the infant, like an ice cube, floating half under and half on top. When I teach infants to go underwater, it is with glides to parents, showing that a facedown position keeps water out of their noses. I encourage parents with children that, “don’t like their face to be wet,” to introduce them to the shower where their face is wet, but not underwater. Another method involves teaching them to wipe their own face instead of needing a towel.  Personally, I used a bathtub seat with suction cups and plenty of bath toys in the shower with my four children. They wanted to be with me (and it was often the only way to get a shower!)  During that time, using a small watering can or cup of water over their heads ( when they were happy of course) I would say,  (for example)” James Michael… 1,2,3….water goes over your head… wheeee!”  Repetition allows your baby/child to anticipate the water and begin holding their breath. Afterward, I would show my child how to wipe their own face with their own hand. Doing this enough will acclimate your child to water on their face in a safe, fun way.

This is a list of things that help with infant swimming lessons:

  1. Another way I help infants float is to put them in wetsuits.
  2. Swim caps help many things: keeping hair out of their faces, keeping heads warm, protection from the elements ( like sun and wind), and there is the bonus of extra floating.
  3. Introducing goggles at this age may make it easier than later on.
  4. Babies are full of air and fat (so to speak) so they will float naturally, but floating requires  ears to be in the water, which can be uncomfortable. This is usually the reason most children cry. Singing the “Motorboat” song as we roll from front to back, more often than not, distracts the baby from crying.
  5. Pool jumps are really a sit /dive. The children learn to fall face-first into the water and then pop up, turn around, and grab the wall. This is the first skill we work on: falling in and finding the wall.  The next skill is crab-walking to the steps.
  6. Parents are putting water shoes on their children because the deck can get very hot, but the shoes also help keep their feet floating when they are vertical in the water.
  7.  As expected, infants need to wear a swim diaper, NB pool requires a disposable swim diaper with a permanent swim diaper over it.
  8. Giving your children swimming lessons is one of the best methods to keep them safe around water.
  9. Join me at Northbridge recreation center in San Rafael for lessons for your family.

Miss Jean

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