Lots of babies love water, but if hanging out in the pool is getting boring, sign up for swimming classes. They're a fun way to bond, and they can help your child feel more comfortable in water as she grows. What to know:
When to go
- Many infant swimming programs, like those at the YMCA and American Red Cross, start at 6 months; others, like those at some New York City YMCAs, offer classes for 3-month-olds.
- Once your baby can hold her head up (usually at 3 to 4 months), she's ready for the pool, says Ed Pemberton, owner and director of Adventure Swim School, in Knoxville, TN.
What to look for in a class
- No more than ten infants per certified instructor
- A clean facility with lifeguards on deck
- Water temperatures between 86 and 92 degrees (though 82 degrees, the temperature of most adult pools, is fine)
- An instructor who focuses on fun and safety -- not actually teaching babies to swim (they can't yet!)
What your baby will eventually learn (besides songs and games!)
- How to sit on the ledge, slide into the water, then reach back to the ledge with her hand to hold on -- a crucial skill should she ever accidentally fall in
- How to dog-paddle, with your help
- How to blow bubbles on the water's surface. Getting used to controlling her breathing and having water on her face will make learning to swim easier for her later.
How to keep your baby safe
- Keep her within arm's reach at all times.
- Never rely on flotation devices -- there's no item or class that will "drown-proof" your child. That's why you're there.
- Both the YMCA and the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend submerging your child. Newborns instinctively hold their breath when under water, but this reflex fades by about 6 months.