How to pick a good Infant Swim Program

By: Erica Genuardi           Posted on: 04.14.2016

Many parents are amazed to learn how young a child can start swim lessons. The latest research supports what water safety experts have known for years—early exposure to water and basic water safety skills should begin in infancy. Research from the Rock River Times shows swim lessons for infants as young as 6 months old can improve, not only water safety, but fine and gross motor skills, social development, and a host of other benefits that lead to a positive, healthy experience for the child and parent.

Researchers found that children who had completed swimming classes as infants scored higher on studies around gripping, reaching and balance, compared to children who had no experience swimming as babies. This can help them learn to recognize a safe versus dangerous situation – something that could one day save their life! As infants learn to maneuver and propel themselves through the water on their own, they develop a greater sense of independence and self-esteem, something new and exciting to this age group. It can also help them learn to swim faster when they are physically ready to learn the strokes.

Finding a quality swim program can be an important part of keeping kids of all ages safer around water. Infant-parent swim classes like the Shrimp, Kipper, Inia and Perch classes teach children the basics of water safety and comfort. Don’t let the names fool you – – these standardized classes are designed for specific ages and ability, and offered in a bunch of organizations.

In the parent-child class model, children learn to follow simple direction and instruction given by the instructor and the parent. The structured classes give infants and their parents the building blocks for swimming – safety, water comfort, floating, kicks and moving through the water. The result? Kids will progress faster in swim lessons and parents will feel more at ease watching them – – both will be safer around the water.

So… what should the right infant or toddler swim program include? For starters, they should:

  • Teach parents water safety. Knowledge is power and the more informed and educated parents are, the more successful their child will be in overcoming challenges in the water.
  • Stress the importance of being within arm’s reach of your child when they’re around water.
  • Take place in warm water.
  • Encourage parent-child bonding, and,
  • Teach the child to blow bubbles when they are in the water. This may prevent them from inhaling underwater.

Make sure the class:

  • Is taught by experienced, certified instructors who understand how and when to properly submerge young children.
  • Provides a complete physical work-out strengthening your baby’s heart, lungs and respiratory system. This workout aids in the development of the brain.
  • Educates young swimmers on how to reach for the wall; an important skill when kids are ready to move to a more advanced level.

A study that was published in the May 2010 issue of Child: Care Health and Development compared 19 infant swimmers against a control group of 19 children who had not participated in infant swim lessons. The only factor that separated the two groups was swimming. All other factors, such as the parents’ education, housing and economic status were the same.

Each infant had participated in swimming classes for two hours a week from the age of 2-3 months until they were about 7 months old. A typical session involved helping the child do a somersault on a floating mat, having the baby dive under water, jump from the pool edge, or balance on the hand of a parent while reaching to pick up floating objects. At age 5, both sets of infant swimmers were tested using similar exercises like walking on tiptoes, balancing on one foot, skipping rope, rolling a ball into a goal and catching a beanbag. The results? Children who participated in the infant swim lessons excelled in the exercises that related to balance and the ability to reach for things.

There are many important tools that, when combined, provide kids with the best protection in and around water; supervision, barriers, first aid, and swimming lessons from an early age. The earlier a child begins their lessons, the sooner they will develop and acquire skills that will build a confident, educated and safe swimmer.

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