What are infants capable of at different stages of their development and when do they have the "Aquatic Readiness" to save themselves?
Do you have a new born? Do you have a bath? You can now start your swimming teaching career, with your own child as your test subject!
All you need to know, is what to do, or not to do, with your splashing new little bundle of joy.
You can start bathing your infant right away if there are no underlining medical conditions. Ask for advice from your midwife or doctor.
First of all, just being in the water is all a newborn needs. Make the bath time, a calm, loving, relaxing experience. Think spa treatment for babies. Dim the lights, some soft ambient music, essential oils. Hold off on the cups of water over their face, there is plenty of time for that when they are older.
Check the temp of the water – 32 degrees C is perfect. Ambient temp should be no lower than 25 degrees C. Close the door to stop cold draughts.
Focus all of your attention on baby. This is to keep them safe, and to help you read any cues from them. React to any signals from baby. If certain stimuli is creating tension, return them to the Cuddly Koala position (chest to chest, cheek to cheek) for comforting.
Keep aware of the level of their airway to the water level. Hold them in a balanced way, using soft hands. Parents instinctively know to not let baby’s head flop around. Always support the head when handling a newborn, especially in a bath.
Familiarise them with some of the properties of water, wetness being one of them.
Water is a sensory smorgasbord and most newborns will love the experience. Tactile stimulation of the skin creates the formation of new neural pathways. Use a watering can poured gently over their body, along with some whispered words of love to show them that this is a special time for you both.
Buoyancy is a property they will be familiar with from their time doing laps in Mum’s belly. A back float can be safely achieved by slowly reclining baby with their head supported, while you sit in 20 – 30cm of water. Carefully lower them back until their ears are just under water. Watch for any arching, or rolling, which could allow water to enter the airway.
If you do have an accident, and there has been water in the airway, place baby into the recovery position, prone along your fore arm, with their hips higher than their head.
For more info on how to safely teach baby swimming in your bath, and to learn when they have the “Aquatic Readiness” to progress on to new skills, sign up to our free online course on our homepage.