Although most babies aren’t ready to master the understanding of swimming independently, it’s still vitally important that they begin lessons early. In fact, the American Red Cross recommends that babies should start lessons as early as 6 months.
“Infants who participate in parent and child aquatics gain foundational knowledge and motor skills that can help them succeed in future swimming lessons, and can help them stay safer in and around the water,” explains Nichole Steffens, aquatic product manager for the American Red Cross. “Just like many infants learn to crawl before they learn to walk, in the pool, infants learn to kick and paddle before learning how to swim.”
Statistics say that the earlier you start children in swim lessons, the sooner they will learn to swim. Exposure and practice of vital swim skills and water safety will get them comfortable sooner in the water.
Starting baby swim lessons doesn’t guarantee quick water proficiency, rather it will teach them preliminary skills for when they are developmentally ready. The following are American Red Cross aligned goals for babies (6 months and up):
Gain comfort in the water, splashing - Starting slow, we can ensure that a child is comfortable being in the water and making some movements. The more comfortable and confident the child, the more receptive they will be to learning additional skills.
Entry and exit of the pool - Being and feeling safe will add to everyone’s comfort and confidence (parents and children alike).
Breath control, bubbles - Moving on to more technical skills, being able to hold their breath while under water and then blow bubbles will allow them to start associating their own actions with being in/under the water.
Kicking, scooping, floating on their front and back, and hiding - Additionally they will learn how to move and manipulate their bodies in order to achieve a desired effect in the water.
Early exposure to water and swim lessons as early as 6 months can be vital for your child becoming proficient in the water. Practicing the aligned goals can get them ready to swim and teach them Water Safety. Once a child learns basic swimming survival skills (and can swim the width of the pool while taking breaths comfortably) they will then be ready for the next steps and introduced to strokes!