Soak it in
Studies show early exposure to water and swim lessons offers many advantages, including physical, cognitive, social and linguistic, says Kathy Hubbard, infant and toddler committee chairman of the U.S. Swim School Association. “The soothing benefits and sensory stimulation of the water is comforting for your baby.”
For baby’s first swim, take a dip in the tub at home. “Hold your baby gently and carefully—on her back or on her tummy with her chin resting on the heel of your hand to keep her mouth and nose above the water,” instructs Hubbard. “You will be amazed to see her stretch her limbs and relax.”
School of fish
When you’re ready to move into a bigger body of water, usually when baby is 3 to 6 months old, consider enrolling in an introductory swim class. “Many indoor swim schools offer classes at this age and will help you with a variety of handholds and body positions to allow your little one to explore safely,” explains Hubbard.
Whether in the tub or in the pool, what should you practice with baby? “Floating, floating, floating,” says Hubbard. “Getting baby on her back at an early age has awesome benefits in muscle and sensory development, as she feels the support of the water and the freedom to move and float with parental support. Holding her under the chin and shoulders as she lies on her tummy and splashes is also awesome and fun.”