Baby swimming is a rich sensory experience that can be offered to a newborn. Water takes babies back to life in utero and helps them become aware of their body’s endless capabilities. It also aids coordination and muscle strength while working up their appetite. Baby swimming is a wonderful way for parents to just hold their little ones and bond with them!
While many of us maybe apprehensive about baby swimming, here is a Mamma from Germany who has been taking her baby swimming from the time she was 10 weeks old. Let’s hear more about this from her!
Hi Janani, tell us about yourself and your family.
My husband and I live in Germany. Our baby girl, Agni was born in March 2018. The past 7 months have been a fun ride with her. As a couple, we love the company of nature, travelling and exploring new things. We would probably give Agni similar experiences as she grows up.
How did you find out about baby swimming?
My Hebamme (midwife) used to come home every alternate day after my delivery. She told me about it.
What made you decide to take your baby for these lessons?
I was excited as soon as I heard about it. My only question was how soon can I start? Agni was in the pool when she was 10 weeks old. Water is not such a new environment for the babies as they have been kicking and playing in the amniotic fluid for months.
Can you describe the structure of these lessons? Typically, what do you do in the water?
The lessons happen once a week for about half an hour, for 8 weeks. They begin with a song in German that helps babies get used to the new environment. The Hebamme will then slowly guide us with the exercise. The basic idea of the course is for babies to get used to water. It was an adventure pool with waterfalls, massage lounges and lazy rivers. The babies get used to water coming at them in many ways. This course was also Agni’s first social experience.
Can you share some unique exercises that they encourage your baby to do?
There are about 5-6 exercises that they teach in the first course. I shall try to explain a few.
- The mammas hold their babies and move them from side to side, back to front while maintaining eye contact. Their hands and legs are always free to move. They will then slowly start tapping and exploring water.
- The babies are placed on their tummies while the Mammas support them on their chest with their palms while moving very fast in the water. They will raise their heads and move their hands and feet. Agni used to smile and laugh a lot when we did this exercise. I loved it!
- The Mammas take a bucket and pour water on their hands, feet, shoulders and body. Once they are used to this, water is poured on their heads. This will help them gain breath control.
- The babies float on their backs while mammas hold them. Generally, babies get anxious with this exercise because they cannot see what’s underneath and it takes a while for them to understand.
- The babies are placed on a big float on their tummy with objects in front of them. They try to reach out for objects while the mammas continue to pour water on their backs.
Note: It is important to remember that it is not safe to try these exercises without a proper instructor.
Did they take the children underwater? How was this experience?
This was only in the second half of the course when the babies were used to water falling on their heads and have some breath control. The mammas hold the babies, typically in the airplane position while the Hebamme pours water on them from legs to their head. Then, the mammas swing them 360 degrees underwater. Agni was the youngest and a bit apprehensive the first few times. So, I would take her under the shower many times. Once she got used to water falling on her head, she did it with so much ease. Now, she enjoys it!
Do you see any noticeable changes in your baby’s movements after exposure to these lessons?
I think the lessons helped a lot with her movement and coordination of hands. At 4.5 months, she used to move a lot on her back.
Was it always mammas in the water with the babies or did dads and grandparents take part too?
Fathers and even grandparents used to come once in a while. They would get into the water along with us.
Can you share a note to parents about baby swimming?
Many parents are worried about taking their babies into the pool so early. But, I think it is totally safe, as long as they have a proper instructor. It is exciting and a lot of fun.