It’s a question that a lot of parents ask and it’s one that you can imagine I like to talk about. I am a big supporter of getting infants and toddlers into the water early, for several reasons:
- Accelerated social, physical and learning development
- Stronger parent-child bond
- Reduction of drowning danger
Six months old is a good benchmark to consider getting your baby in the water: at that age most babies have developed the head control necessary to perform basic infant water survival exercises, including roll-to-back-float. Six months is also a time when babies become more mobile outside the water – for homes with pools, this means they can accidentally find their way into the water and get into trouble.
You would be amazed at what a 6-9 month old baby can accomplish in the water! They can hold their breath underwater, intuitively roll-to-back-float, open their eyes underwater to explore, and more. They develop a comfort in the water that serves them throughout their childhood and into their adult lives. It is also incredibly rewarding to see the fun that parents can have getting involved with their infants in the water, developing such a wonderful bond and creating memories that last forever.
Toddlers at 12-24 months can do even more and this is a perfect time in their development to learn actual swim skills that can save their lives. 1- and 2-year-olds are fully capable of entering and exiting the water on their own, swimming underwater unassisted, and back-floating for extended periods. It also becomes easier to see the skills they will use outside of the water: comfort and curiosity with other children, ability to follow directions, and physical strength and confidence.
Don’t wait for some arbitrary age, your baby can swim a lot sooner than you think – it’s good for them and it’s good for you!
Kathleen McMordie is an Infant Aquatic Survival Lead Instructor and water safety specialist located in Katy, Texas. Show owns a full-service aquatic facility, called Texas Swim Academy. Through a variety of programs, Kathleen and her staff of instructors at Texas Swim Academy strive to introduce children to water at an early age through INFANT AQUATICS, and to fully develop their swim stroke abilities through adulthood through STROKE DEVELOPMENT.