To be relaxed with your baby and have a happy experience, you need to be informed. Parents who start swimming with their babies tend to ask the same questions, which mostly refer to safety, conditions and performance.

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When can babies start?

From birth to nine months, babies adjust easily to a water environment. The later babies are introduced to the water, the more likely they are to object to the unfamiliar sensations and thus experience fear. In my experience, the best time to start is between six and 16 weeks. Many parents like to wait until their babies have had their immunizations and are considered to be protected from polio, but consult your doctor for advice if needed. Although it is best to introduce your baby to water as early as possible, you should never feel under pressure to go to a pool. It is in fact possible for you and your baby to achieve a great deal at home in the bath. Ask us for advice.

Is it safe for babies to go underwater?

We supports the belief that babies hold their breath when submerged in their first half year, that their bodies are designed to conserve oxygen automatically, and that when new-borns are exposed to ‘water, they make automatic swimming movements. (However, there are opponents of baby swimming who claim that, after birth, being in water ceases to be a natural function.) Two main responses are triggered when your baby goes underwater. Firstly, the diving response: whenever babies’ faces are in the water, the circulating blood starts to conserve oxygen and utilize it most efficiently. Oxygenated blood is directed to sustain the brain and heart for as long as 30 minutes. Not only submersion but simple immersions of the baby’s face elicit this ” diving response”. Babies that are submersed for only seconds at a time a few times per session are not exposed to any risk. Secondly, there is the “gag reflex” (laryngospasm). When water gets into your baby’s mouth, the gag reflex causes an involuntary spasm of the glottis and the epiglottis, keeping water from entering the trachea (windpipe) This watertight seal of the windpipe prevents inhalation of water into the lungs. Remember, however, that the gag reflex does not close off the esophagus and water can accumulate in your baby’s stomach, with the possibility of causing water intoxication.

Parents must watch that their infants do not swallow a lot of water when they are held prone. The risk of intoxication is, however, extremely remote in a half-hour session in which you practice a variety of exercises, even if your baby tends to swallow water. Water intoxication is a rare condition. Unlike near drowning, no water has entered the lungs. Symptoms are lethargy, irritability and nausea. Consult your doctor if you are concerned.

When will my baby swim?

Many parents expect their babies to be able to swim soon after they are introduced to the water. It all depends on what is meant by swimming. While some infants may move freely in water after just a few sessions, it is very rare that they become able to swim unaided to a target before entering their second year. By focusing on enjoying being in water with your baby as your main goal, you avoid putting pressure on achievement and expecting quick results, both of which are often counter-productive. Some parents are under the impression that their babies will float from birth; very few babies do, if any. Helping your baby to develop full buoyancy as he grows is part of the joy of swimming.

Is my baby's health at risk in the water?

Well-maintained, monitored and cared-for public pools pose fewer threats to your baby’s health than your bath tub or private pools. Bacteria that thrive in hot water are a low hazard because of chlorine’s effectiveness in pools.Take more precautions with young babies in lakes and on beaches – because of environmental pollution – and babies who have not been immunized against polio are more at risk. Babies who swim are not more likely to have ear infections. Unless your baby has a perforated eardrum, it is not possible for water in the outer canal to flow into the middle or inner ear where ear infections start. Simple preventive habits with your baby after swimming are very helpful; after getting out of the pool, turn your baby to each side to drain any water from his ears before drying them well with a towel. Put a woolen hat on your baby before going outdoors in cold or wet, windy weather. Unless your baby has a sniffy cold, a chest infection, an ear or an eye infection, going swimming is unlikely to of trials, you will know whether your baby’s condition is made worse by swimming, and you may wish to take medical advice. worsen any mild condition. In fact, swimming can clear common colds and be invigorating, and it is recommended medically as the best exercise for asthmatic children since it does not produce bronchial hyperactivity. Babies who have eczema may not be able to swim in chlorinated pools.After a couple of trials, you will know whether your baby’s condition is made worse by swimming, and you may wish to take medical advice.

How much time should I leave between feeding and swimming?

Young babies can be fed at any time, including immediately before getting into the water. They rarely regurgitate milk or vomit in the water. Older babies who are fed solid food, however, may bring it up in the water if they have eaten just before swimming, particular! if they have mucus in their stomachs. If your baby tends to do this, avoid snacks before going to the pool but make sure you take a healthy snack with you for after swimming. Loud burps in the water are to be expected from babies. Cheer your baby! If he gets hiccups, avoid submersion, as it may cause him to swallow water.

What if my baby does not like the water?

Each baby is different. Some newborns like water more than others, usually those with a higher proportion offatty tissue. Mind your reactions and your words if your baby cries in the bath or the pool. Rather than jump to the conclusion that he does not like water, check that the temperature is warm enough, comfort him and aim to create pleasurable associations each time you expose him to water again.

Can parents who cannot swim teach their babies to swim?

Many parents who are not confident in water are motivated to help their babies swim without fear. It is a positive step. It also helps the parents become confident in the water.